The Wikipedia article San Clemente al Laterano about the church in Rome that is dedicated to Pope Clement I is consistent with the scenario I present in my book for the family of Mark’s patron.
Here is are two extracts from the article:
The Basilica of Saint Clement (Italian: Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Pope Clement I located in Rome, Italy….This ancient church was transformed over the centuries from a private home that was the site of clandestine Christian worship in the 1st century to a grand public basilica by the 6th century, reflecting the emerging Catholic Church’s growing legitimacy and power….
The lowest levels of the present basilica contain remnants of the foundation of a possibly republican era building that might have been destroyed in the Great Fire of 64. An industrial building – probably the imperial mint of Rome from the late 1st century A.D. onwards (because a similar building is represented on a 16th-century drawing of a fragment of the Severan marble plan of the city), was built or remodelled on the same site during the Flavian period. Shortly after an insula, or apartment block, was also built. It was separated from the industrial building by a narrow alleyway. About a hundred years later (c. 200) a mithraeum, a sanctuary of the cult of Mithras, was built in the courtyard of the insula…”
- The historical Titus Flavius Clemens and Flavia Domitilla were members of the imperial family (which had been in power since 69 CE). What better place to put the imperial mint than on the property of a family member?
- Whether or not there was a pope who used the name “Clement,” the official history of the Catholic Church places “Pope Clement I” at the time of the life of Titus Flavius Clemens. It was an appropriate name for whoever the congregational leader was at the time, as they would have been affiliated with Titus Flavius Clemens.
- When Clemens and Flavia were killed/exiled, the property passed into the emperor’s hands (Nerva, Trajan). So the construction of an insula is plausible, especially if it was used for workers in the imperial mint. A ‘public purpose’ for the property was more soothing to the partisans of Clemens and Flavia (whose steward had assassinated Domitian) than a private real estate grab.
- Some decades later, the (male) tenants of the insula built the mithraeum for their own use. (A mithraeum served as their dinner party venue.)
- Only later was the property used for a large church. But the Catholic Church leaders had always known that the property was central to their own history.
- In my opinion, it is likely that the author we know as “Mark” visited the property. Possibly the wooden theater in which his play was performed had been constructed nearby!