Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva – Opening horus, Mass times, Things to see

Basilica of Saint Mary Above Minerva, Piazza della Minerva, 42, 00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

Website of the Sanctuary


Every day from 7.00 am until 7.00 pm

Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva – Tomb of St Catherine of Siena

Under the main altar, that is to say, in the central altar of the Basilica, the tomb is located in marble where the remains of St. Catherine of Siena are preserved, Dominican laywoman and Doctor of the Church. The tomb of the fifteenth century, restored between 1999 and 2000, represents in its upper part, the body of the Saint whose head rests on a cushion.

In the front, two small angels, hold an inscription which presents to the pilgrim or the visitor the saint buried here: “Sancta Caterina of Senis Ordinis Santi Dominici of Poenitentia” (Saint Catherine of Siena of the Order of Penance of Saint Dominic). Caterina Benincasa (that was her name) was born in 1347 in Siena to a wealthy family. At the age of six, while she was walking in the city of Siena, she lived above the Church of S. Dominic, Jesus Christ in pontifical vestments, sat on a throne, and to his sides saints Peter, Paul, and John.

Mass times in the Basilica

Holy Mass in the Sacristy, entrance from the cloister

Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva

In the area currently occupied by the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva and by the former ex-convent, stood three temples dedicated to Minerva, Isis, and Serapis. Already in the eighth century, next to these temples, stood a small church that pope Zachary conceded to Basilian nuns who fled the East.

In 1255, Alexander IV established a community of converted in this place. The Church belonged to the Benedictines of Campo Marzio.

It was only in 1256 that the brother preachers settled there, and in 1275, they also obtained the property of the Church thanks to the intervention of brother Aldobrandino Cavalcati. It is likely that the convent of Saint Mary of Minerva remained for approximately 10 years under the direction of the first Dominican convent of Rome: that of Santa Sabina. In effect, it seems that the first prior of the community only arrived in 1287.

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, this Dominican reality became one of the most important of the city of Rome and welcomed more than fifty brothers. From 1557 the Church has cardinal titular. The first titular cardinal was Michele Ghislieri, who became Pope in 1566 under the name of Pius V.

In 1577, Giovanni Solano (buried in the Basilica) established in the convent the Saint Thomas Aquinas College, which is today the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), in order to ensure an intellectual and spiritual formation for Dominican brothers from Italy.

Between 1797 and 1814, during the French occupation of Rome, the convent was used as infantry barracks, which caused significant damage. In 1810, there were further changes due to the suppression of religious orders as the brothers were forced to abandon their convent and to disperse. They could only return in 1825.

Definitively expropriated in 1871 by the Italian State, which is the current owner of the convent, the brothers could only obtain the authorization to return in 1929 and to use certain parts in order to officiate the Basilica.

Visitors can also admire two big organs that are located above the two transepts, on the singer’s platforms. Original instruments, almost identical, dating back to 1628, and signed by the organ manufacturer Ennio Bonifazi, leaving only the facades. Hardly anything remains from the organ on the right, and the one on the left was replaced by precious romantic instruments with the pneumatic – tubular transmission with three manuals – signed by Carlo Vegezzi Bossi and inaugurated the 7th of April 1909. Such a large organ was a novelty for the Rome of the time.

The whole convent is annexed to the church, where 20 brothers currently live. They gather in the Basilica, in the wooden choir behind the main altar, to pray together three times a day the liturgy of the hours. In addition, the brothers provide spiritual animation and the surveillance of the Basilica. A cloister, where the decorations are splendid, is part of the convent, and it is only possible to visit on certain occasions because it is reserved for the life of the brothers.



Mass times in the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva

Holy Mass in the Sacristy, entrance from the cloister


Every Saturday with Eucharistic Adoration at 17.00.

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