March 17, 2020

The House of Saint Alexios the Man of God in Rome

On the Aventine Hill in Rome, the site of the house of Saint Alexios the Man of God can be found in the Basilica dei Santi Bonifacio ed Alessio. Once you enter the church the location of the house will be on the left side. If you look closely, there is a staircase above the altar, known as the Holy Steps. According to tradition, Saint Alexios the Man of God lived below this staircase at his parents house as an anonymous beggar for seventeen years till his death, upon which his identity was revealed to his parents. This is all that remains of the original house.

Since before the eighth century, there was on the Aventine in Rome a church that was dedicated to Saint Boniface. In 972 Pope Benedict VII transferred this almost abandoned church to the exiled Greek metropolitan, Sergius of Damascus. The latter erected beside the church a monastery for Greek and Latin monks, soon made famous for the austere life of its inmates. To the name of Saint Boniface was now added that of Saint Alexios as titular saint of the church and monastery known as Santi Bonifacio e Alessio. It is evidently Sergius and his monks who brought to Rome the veneration of Saint Alexios. The Eastern saint, according to his legend a native of Rome, was soon very popular with the folk of that city. This church, being associated with the legend, was considered to be built on the site of the home that Alexios returned to from Edessa.

Saint Alexios is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology under 17 July in the following terms: "At Rome, in a church on the Aventine Hill, a man of God is celebrated under the name of Alexius, who, as reported by tradition, abandoned his wealthy home, for the sake of becoming poor and to beg for alms unrecognized."