Santa Sabina all'Aventino

(Click on any photo to see a larger version)

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(To see photos of the left aisle and chapel click here)
(To see photos of the right aisle and chapel click here)

(To see photos of the cloister click here)

Santa Sabina all'Aventino has the dignity of a minor basilica. It is attached to the General Curia or headquarters of the Dominican order. Santa Sabina lies high on the Aventine Hill, in rione Ripa, next to the Tiber River and close to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta. The dedication is to St Sabina, a legendary 2nd century martyr.

For reference, a plan of the church is available here.


The church was built in the 5th century, possibly on the site of the original Titulus Sabinae, traditionally the home of St Sabina. In the 9th century Pope Eugenius II remodelled the litergical arrangements, providing a schola cantorum, an iconostasis and a pair of ambones or pulpits, decorated the walls with paintings, and set up a silver altar canopy. In the high altar he placed the relics of Sts. Alexander, Theodulus and Eventius. In 1219, the church was given by Pope Honorius III to Saint Dominic, for his new order, the Order of Preachers, now commonly known as the Dominicans. Since then, it has been their headquarters.

The Dominicans restored the basilica, equipping it with a cloister with arches and a high bell tower, which was then rebuilt in the 17th century. During the 13th century the church underwent numerous changes and the Cosmatesque floor was also put in place. In 1441 Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini not only renovated the basilica, but he also built a porch (loggia) to shelter a doorway leading into the right aisle at the southwest end of the building. In 1460 the basilica was further restored and equipped with a portico in front of the entrance.

In 1586, Pope Sixtus V commissioned Domenico Fontana to bring the interior of the church up to date. The schola cantorum, ambones and iconostasis were demolished, the mosaic in the apse was removed. In the 20th century, most of these post-mediaeval alterations and additions made by Fontana were removed by Antonio Muñoz to restore the church back to what was believed to be its original state.

Sources: Roman Churches Wiki
I Viaggi di Raffaella blog
Corvinus web site

Location: 41° 53' 4.2"N 12° 28' 47.3"E

Detailed information and description

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Copyright Skip Conde 2012-2023