The church is dedicated to Santa Francesca Romana, a Benedictine nun and patron saint of drivers (whose festivity takes place on March 9), who became a saint in 1608 due to her efforts at helping the poor and sick people. The building incorporated the former oratory of Saints Peter and Paul, realised in the 8th century by Pope Paul I in the portico of the Temple of Venus.
The church was rebuilt by the order of Pope Honorius II in the 13th century and then often remodelled as in the 17th century when it took its Baroque appearance. The facade, by Carlo Lombardi (1615), is in white travertine and rises in the middle with an order of two pairs of pilasters and a tympanum crowned by statues. It has a balcony at the top and a tall Romanesque bell tower decorated with double-mullioned windows.
The interior has a single nave with side chapels and a rich coffered ceiling. In the apse are 12th-century mosaics depicting the Madonna and Child. The church keeps a stone slab with imprints that are said to be of the knees of St. Peter and St. Paul. Among the works are the sculptural group of the "Confession" by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, located at the end of the nave, and the painting The Nativity by Carlo Maratta in the first chapel on the left.
Since 1352 the church has been officiated by the Benedictines of Monteoliveto.
The sacristy, accessible from the left transept, houses the Madonna Glycophilusa (also known as Our Lady of Tenderness), a precious 5th-century Marian icon from Santa Maria Antiqua, found under the one on the high altar during the 1949 restoration.
For the timetable of the masses and visiting conditions, please consult the contacts.
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