About the project

About the Project


The Pantheon was built nearly 2000 years ago, and its earlier versions go back even further in time. The Pantheon has also been recognized since the seventh century as a Catholic church (now called Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres—Basilica of Saint Mary and the Martyrs). The Pantheon is renowned for its stunning architecture and global influence, and has been rhapsodized by individuals over the centuries. It is a church, a monument, a burial site—the Pantheon is many things to many people all at once. Yet it seems that no substantial study of what the Pantheon means to its visitors has ever been undertaken. This research project, “The Art of the Pantheon: Learning from Visitors,” aims to comprehend as much as possible about the significance of the Pantheon from those who experience it. Focused on what visitors come to understand as they encounter the architecture and artworks, as they experience the space, this research takes visitor experience as an important source for learning about what the Pantheon means for people today.



The following research processes began in 2019 and are ongoing: literature review; interviews with people who work in the Pantheon|Basilica; participant observation; video, photo, and audio documentation.

Informed by research and in consultation with Basilica leadership, a survey of visitors was developed between September 2021 and May 2022.

This online survey, intended for anyone who has ever visited the Pantheon in Rome, is now open to the public. It is being advertised on the Internet and in the Pantheon.

The results of the survey will be analyzed in autumn and winter 2022. The survey results will be preliminarily compared to what architects/art historians and Catholic leadership have said about what the Pantheon|Basilica means—thus beginning a “trialogue” between visitors, architects/art historians, and Catholic leadership. From this “trialogue” will come preliminary learnings and implications for future research.



This project is a work of public theological education. Centered on the experience of visitors, the progress and outcomes of the research will be shared with the public on the Outcomes page of the project website and on social media. Public feedback is encouraged.

The outcomes that will be shared will include presentations, lectures, reports and publications.

Preliminary research findings will also be presented to the Pantheon|Basilica Catholic leadership for conversation in the autumn 2022 and spring of 2023.


Project Leader

  • Tom Beaudoin, Ph.D.
    Professor at the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University, New York City, USA

Advisory Board

  • Julio Bermudez, Ph.D.
    Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, USA
  • Francis-Vincent Anthony, Ph.D.
    Professore Ordinario at the Salesian Pontifical University, Rome, Italy
  • Kaori Yanata, Ph.D.
    Visiting scholar, Urban Social and Cultural Studies, Yokohama City University, Japan
    Visiting fellow, Center for Tourism Research, Wakayama University, Japan
    Part-time lecturer, Faculty of Tourism, Wakayama University, Japan

Design & Support

  • Laura Luchies, Ph.D. (Survey Design and Analysis)
    Founder and Principal Consultant, DataWise Consulting, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
  • Jason Mazza (Design & Marketing)
    Principal at Image and Type, New York City, USA
  • Carolyn Szala (Research Assistant)
    Doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University, New York City, USA
  • Simona Tonti (Translation)
    Movimento dei Focolari, Rome, Italy
  • Paolo Francesco Colonnetti (Translation)
    Rome, Italy


This project is funded by Project Grant TRT0402 from the Templeton Religion Trust as part of their Art Seeking Understanding program, and by Fordham University’s Office of Research, and the Fordham Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education.

Research Ethics Review

This project is subject to the oversight of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Fordham University.

Professor Tom Beaudoin’s approved protocols for this research include: IRB #1268: “Containing Nothing: A Theological Study of the Pantheon” (approved 14 May 2019); IRB #1344: “Perspectives on the Pantheon” (approved 28 August 2019); IRB #1901: “The Art of the Pantheon: Qualitative Theological Research” (approved 5 August 2021); additionally, Dr. Laura Luchies’ approved protocol for the visitor survey is Calvin University IRB #22-010: “Pantheon Visitor Survey” (approved 1 April 2022). Fordham University’s IRB recognizes Calvin University’s IRB for this research through an Authorization Agreement (approved 25 May 2022).


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