Santa Maria sopra Minerva has the status of minor basilica and gets its name from the fact that it sits on the site of a former temple dedicated to Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom. The facade of the basilica is of Renaissance style and the interior is the only Gothic church in Rome, the arches are pointed rather than rounded which are normally found in Rome. The church is located on the Piazza della Minerva near to the Pantheon in the Pigna area of Rome. The present church dates back to 1280 and is an important church for the Dominicans, the work was undertaken on the orders of Pope Nicholas III. It has undergone several renovations, the last work being done in the 19th century. Works carried out in the 1500′s and 1900′s stripped it of much of its magnificence but it does contain wonderful Medieval and Renaissance tombs. Outside the front of the church is a statue of a small elephant by Bernini, from 1667, and an Egyptian Obelisk believed to come from the Temple of Isis which stood nearby and preceded the Roman Temple of Minerva. Nothing remains from these temples today although there are several Roman ruins in the crypt. Saint Catherine of Siena is buried under the altar (except for her head which is in Siena).
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