St. Apollinaris, the founding bishop of the see of Ravenna, may have been born near Antioch in Syria, though this is uncertain. He is recorded as having been the first bishop of Ravenna and persisted in his ministry there despite being physically beaten many times, sometimes almost to the point of death. He finally died after one such attack in Classe, a suburb of Ravenna. While the exact date of his death is unknown, some hypothesize that it took place under Septimus Severus, at the turn of the third century. The first record of a church on this site is during the pontificate of Pope Adrian I (r. 772-795), with general agreement that the church dates from the late seventh or early eighth century. Previously, this was the site of the Baths of Nero and Alexander and the administration of the marble quarries during the imperial period. The dedication to St. Apollinaris may come from the fact that Rome was under Byzantine control at the time, with the administration based in Ravenna. It is thought that Basilian monks were the first in residence here. The first church was demolished and replaced with the current one by Pope Benedict XIV, being dedicated in 1748. At the time it was attached to the German College. This was run by the Jesuits, and after their suppression in 1773, the college building passed through the hands of several other organizations until being recently renovated to house the University of the Holy Cross, run by the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei. In 1990, the basilica came under the control of Opus Dei.
Address: Piazza Sant’Apollinare, 49
Directions: Take bus 46, 64, 571, or 916 from the stop down the hill, across the Tiber, and in front of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini (Acciaioli) to Corso Vittorio Emmanuele/Navona stop; walk down the Corso to Piazza Pantaleo and then turn left and walk north through Piazza Navona. After exiting the end of the piazza continue north to the University of Santa Croce. The church is in the back of the small piazza.