Protestant Cemetery, Rome

The Cimitero Acattolico (Non-Catholic Cemetery) of Rome, often referred to as the Cimitero dei protestanti (Protestant Cemetery) or Cimitero Inglese (English Cemetery), is a private cemetery in the rione of Testaccio in Rome. It is near Porta San Paolo and adjacent to the Pyramid of Cestius, a small-scale Egyptian-style pyramid built between 18 and 12 BC as a tomb and later incorporated into the section of the Aurelian Walls that borders the cemetery. It has Mediterranean cypress, pomegranate and other trees, and a grassy meadow. It is the final resting place of non-Catholics including but not exclusive to Protestants or British people. The earliest known burial is that of a University of Oxford student named Langton in 1738. The English poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley are buried there.

Cimitero Acattolico di Roma
Non-Catholic Cemetery
Protestant Cemetery
Cimitero Acattolico Roma.jpg
Coordinates41°52′34″N 12°28′48″E / 41.876°N 12.480°E / 41.876; 12.480Coordinates: 41°52′34″N 12°28′48″E / 41.876°N 12.480°E / 41.876; 12.480
Style18th–19th century European


John KeatsEdit

Tombstone of John Keats

Keats died in Rome of tuberculosis at the age of 25, and is buried in the cemetery. His epitaph, which does not mention him by name, is by his friends Joseph Severn and Charles Armitage Brown, and reads:

This grave contains all that was mortal, of a young English poet, who on his death bed, in the bitterness of his heart, at the malicious power of his enemies, desired these words to be engraven on his tombstone: Here lies one whose name was writ in water.

Percy Bysshe ShelleyEdit

Shelley drowned in 1822 in a sailing accident off the Italian Riviera. When his body washed up upon the shore, a copy of Keats' poetry borrowed from Leigh Hunt was discovered in his pocket - doubled back - as though it had been put away in a hurry. He was cremated on the beach near Viareggio by his friends, the poet Lord Byron and the English adventurer Edward John Trelawny. His ashes were sent to the British consulate in Rome, who had them interred in the Protestant Cemetery some months later.

Shelley's heart supposedly survived cremation and was snatched out of the flames by Trelawny, who subsequently gave it to Shelley's widow, Mary. When Mary Shelley died, the heart was found in her desk wrapped in the manuscript of "Adonais," the elegy Shelley had written the year before upon the death of Keats, in which the poet urges the traveller, "Go thou to Rome ...".

Shelley and Mary's three-year-old son William was also buried in the Protestant Cemetery.

Shelley's heart[1] was finally buried, encased in silver, in 1889, with the son who survived him, Sir Percy Florence Shelley,[2] but his gravestone in the Protestant Cemetery is inscribed: Cor cordium ("heart of hearts"), followed by a quotation from Shakespeare's The Tempest:

Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea change,
Into something rich and strange.

Other burialsEdit

Grave of Gregory Corso
Devereux Plantagenet Cockburn, † 1850, monument by Benjamin Edward Spence
Story's Angel of Grief

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Or, some have suggested, his liver. See "Possibly Not Shelley's Heart?", The New York Times, 28 June 1885.
  2. ^ Lexa Selph, "Shelley's Heart", Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, 8 June 1985.
  3. ^ Bandettini, Anna (14 December 2016). "Morta Maria Pia Fusco, una vita di passione per il cinema". (in Italian). Retrieved 28 February 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Stanley-Price, Nicholas (2014). The Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome: its history, its people and its survival for 300 years. Rome: Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome. ISBN 978-88-909168-0-9.
  • Antonio Menniti Ippolito, Il Cimitero acattolico di Roma. la presenza protestante nella città del papa, Roma, Viella, 2014, ISBN 978-88-6728-114-5

External linksEdit