The interior of the Basilica of SS Boniface and Alexis on the Aventine, an ancient monastic and titular church. It's unclear exactly when the first structure appeared here, but scholarly consensus points to about the fourth century. Alexis was reportedly the son of a Roman senator. He ran away from home as a teenager to become a beggar, but later returned to the family home on the Aventine, which possibly occupied this site. St. Boniface was allegedly martyred in Tarsus after departing Rome to assist persecuted Christians in the east. His remains were repatriated, and then reportedly a house was converted into a church in the fourth century in commemoration of him.
A monastery was added in the Middle Ages when it was granted by Pope Benedict VII to a Greek archbishop in 977, who established a community of Latin and Byzantine monks. The Byzantines left and were later replaced by Benedictines from Cluny Abbey. The complex was rebuilt under Pope Honorius III in 1217 when St. Alexis's legend became more popular, and it became a basilica with naves, aisles and eight arcade columns on each side. This lovely church is highly recommended if you're in this rather out-of-the-way part of Rome; the hill is quite a climb but as there are several important churches here (including the adjacent Basilica of Saint Sabina) it's worth a visit. The exterior is a pale yellow, and there is a beautiful courtyard which features a statue of Pope Honorius IV, possibly from a lost memorial to him, from the school of Arnolfo di Cambio. The site occupies the crest of the hill overlooking the Tiber, and features magnificent views of Trastevere. The brick campanile was built in the thirteenth century, and it's five stories high, preserved in the Baroque reconstruction.
The interior is quite surprising. It is distinctly feminine, adorned in pastels (predominantly pink) with flower-shaped rosettes adorning the ceiling. There is quite substantial natural lighting, and elaborate mosaics on the floor. The 16th-century baldacchino is also quite elaborate in this particular church, and several of the chapels are worth a look as well. Highly recommended if you're in this rather out-of-the-way part of Rome; the hill is quite a climb but as there are several important churches here (including the adjacent Basilica of Saint Sabina) it's worth a visit.
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