San Bonaventura al Palatino

On the Palatine hill, a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum and the archaeological site of the Roman Forum, stands the religious complex of San Bonaventura al Palatino, on a cistern of the Claudian aqueduct.

The Palatine was the first home of the ruling class of ancient Rome, in fact in the late republican age Crassus, Cicero, Marcus Antonius and Augustus lived there; then it was the seat of Goths, Byzantine exarchs, popes and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, up to Otto III. After being completely abandoned, the hill found new purpose as a foundation for churches, convents, houses, towers and fortresses. Therefore, some government buildings of ancient Rome were transformed into Christian churches. Examples of this are the Church of San Sebastiano, which was built on top of the temple of the Elagabalium, the Church of San Bonaventura came from a Roman cistern, the Church of San Teodoro on the Palatine was born from the Horrea Agrippiana and Basilica of Santa Anastasia at the Palatine Hill had an insula as its foundation.

The church of San Bonaventura was founded in 1675, together with the adjoining convent of the Franciscan Minor reformed friars, by cardinal Francesco Barberini, owner of the neighboring Vigna Barberini, with the help of Miquel Baptista Gran Peris, also known as blessed Bonaventura from Barcelona.

The Basilica was dedicated to San Bonaventura da Bagnoregio, founder of the Confraternita del Gonfalone, but was also sometimes known as the church of San Bonaventura alla Polveriera, due to its proximity to a gunpowder factory.

The archaeological excavations on the Palatine in the mid-nineteenth century partially demolished the convent. However, thanks to the generous funding from Carlo and Alessandro Torlonia, it has been possible to start restoring the entire complex.

The church of San Sebastiano al Palatino sits in a truly enviable position; it boasts one of the most evocative panoramas of Rome, a 360 degree view of the historic center overlooking the Colosseum, making the church among the most sought after and visited locations in Rome. It is a perfect amalgamation of nature, history and spirituality.One enters through a beautiful molded doorway, set in a double-sloped façade with Franciscan simplicity, surmounted by a niche containing the statue of San Bonaventura, which dates back to the eighteenth century. At the top sits a lunette representing Saint Leonard among the angels.The interior of the church, with a single nave, is suitable for an intimate ceremony, accommodating up to about 60 people.On the high altar there is a depiction Immaculate Conception and the three Franciscan Orders by Filippo Micheli da Camerino that frames the newlyweds.Over the guest is a barrel vault with illusionistic coffers painted in 1839.Outside, along the wall of the road that leads to the church, there are shrines enclosed by grates that protect a Via Crucis with painted terracotta groups, designed by San Leonardo da Porto Maurizio.