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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Details

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

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Kevin Mahady (2 months ago)
Well worth a visit if you are in the area. Artistry is amazing.
Romayn Germanotta (8 months ago)
Open from 8.30 to 12.30 and 16.30 to 20.00 everyday
Renee Bajor (10 months ago)
Beautiful. Mass was quick.
Vasili Timonen (2 years ago)
The church is open daily 8:30 to 12:30, and 15:30 to 18:30 (20:00 in summer). However public Mass is not routinely celebrated, except for weddings and anniversaries for which this is a popular venue. This heavily remodelled 13th century monastery church has a fascinating selection of artworks, a venerated icon of Our Lady, Cosmatesque items and a superb campanile (bell-tower).
Ulonna Inyama (2 years ago)
Spent a week here with a Youth group IYLN. Wonderfully calm. Great hosts
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.