Santi Bonifacio ed Alessio

Rome, Italy

The Basilica dei Santi Bonifacio e(d) Alessio is a basilica, rectory church served by the Somaschans, on the Aventine Hill in Rome. It is dedicated to Saint Boniface of Tarsus and (originally only) Saint Alexius. 

Founded between the 3rd and 4th centuries, it was restored in 1216 by Pope Honorius III (some columns of his building survive in the present building's eastern apse), in 1582, in the 1750s by Tommaso De Marchis (his main altar survives), and between 1852 and 1860 by the Somaschi, which congregation still serves it as a rectory church. The 16th century style facade, elaborated from the De Marchis phase, is built onto the medieval-style quadriportico.

The church has a Romanesque campanile. On the south side of the nave is the funerary monument Eleonora Boncompagni Borghese of 1693, to a design of Giovan Contini Batiste, and in the south transept the Chapel of Charles IV of Spain, with the Icon Madonna di Sant'Alessio. It is an Edessa icon of the Intercession of the Madonna, the Heavenly Mediatress dating from the 12-13th centuries, thought to have been painted by St Luke the Evangelist and brought from the East by St Alexius.

A Romanesque crypt survives below the church, whose main altar contains relics of St Thomas of Canterbury. It has a 12th-century wall of frescoes of the Agnus Dei and symbols of the Four Evangelists, along with one in the north aisle of St Gerolamo Emiliani introducing orphans to the Virgin by Jean Francois De Troy, and at the end of the aisle The Holy Steps and the titular church of Saint Alexius in wood and stucco by Andrea Bergondi.

Connected to the basilica are the buildings of the former monastery, which now belong to the Italian state.

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Founded: 4th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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