The Basilica of Saint Sylvester the First also known as (Italian: San Silvestro in Capite, Latin: Sancti Silvestri in Capite) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and titular church in Rome dedicated to Pope Saint Sylvester I. It is located on Piazza San Silvestre, on the corner of Via del Gambero and the Via della Mercede, and stands adjacent to the central Post Office, while across the Piazza stands Santi Claudio e Andrea dei Borgognoni.
Built in the 8th century as a shrine for the relics of the saints and martyrs from the Catacombs, the church is the National church of Great Britain. The Latin words "in capite" refers to the canonical title of Pope Sylvester the First, to which in capite means in First, in Chief, or in Head. By honorific coincidence, the basilica is also famous for enshrining a fragmented head purported to be Saint John the Baptist, putatively kept as a relic, in a chapel to the left of the entrance. A second Roman church dedicated to Saint Sylvester is San Silvestro al Quirinale. The Cardinal-Priest of the titulus S. Silvestri in Capite is Desmond Connell.
The church has an atrium and narthex, which isolates the church from the busy square outside. There are fragments of early Christian sculpture, many with inscriptions, embedded in the walls of the atrium. The facade has an unusual giant order topped with four baroque statues (1703): San Silvestro by Lorenzo Ouone, Saint Stephen by Michelangelo Borgognone, Saint Clare[disambiguation needed] by Giuseppe Mazzoni and Saint Francis by Vincenzo Felice.
It is believed that the high altar, which predates the present church, was influenced by the style of Michelangelo. The interior is rich in marble, gilding, and artistic decoration. The nave has an Assumption with Saints frescoed (1680) by Giacinto Brandi. The main altar carved ciborium or canopy (1667) by Carlo Rainaldi. The cupola was frescoed (1605) by Cristoforo Roncalli. A Martyrdom of San Stephan I and a Messengers of Costantine call on San Silvestro (1610) were frescoed in the apse by Orazio Borgianni. In the baptistry apse, there is a Baptism of Costantine by Ludovico Gimignani. The transept has a History of San Silvestro (1690) also by Gimignani, and a Madonna with Child by Baccio Ciarpi.
In the first chapel to the right is a Madonna with child & Saint Anthony of Padua & Stephan I and other saints (1695) by Giuseppe Chiari. In the second chapel is a Saint Francis receives stigmata (1610) by Orazio Gentileschi accompanied by paintings of the life of the saint by Luigi Garzi. In the third, a Pentecost by Giuseppe Ghezzi. The left transept has a Madonna & child by Terenzio Terenzi. In the third chapel on the left is a fresco of the Immaculate Conception by Gimignani. On the walls are an Adoration by the Magi and Visitation by the Milanese il Morrazzone. In the second chapel is a Pope San Marcello has a vision of the Sacred Family and a Transit and Glory of San Giuseppe by Gimignani. In the first chapel are canvases of the Passion (1695) by Francesco Trevisani.