History of the Basilica

In the area currently occupied by the Basilica of Saint Mary of Minerva and by the former ex-convent, stood three temples dedicated to Minerva, Isis and Serapis. Already in the eight 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 authorisation to return in 1929 and to use certain parts in order to officiate the Basilica.