Dating back to the 10th century, la Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana (Frances of Rome) was originally called Santa Maria Nova. It is one of several churches located in the Roman Forum. The Romanesque tower and the beautiful mosaics covering the apse were a 13th century addition. The recently restored Neoclassical façade of the basilica was designed by Carlo Lambardi and completed in 1615.
When the Santa Maria Antiqua in the Forum Romanum had fallen into disuse by the 10th century, and consequently disrepair, this church was built. An oratory dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul stood on the site earlier. The church is built on the foundations of the ancient temple of Venus and Rome. It was called Santa Maria Nuova, New St Mary's.
It was destroyed by fire at some time before or during the pontificate of Honorius III (1216-1227), and was rebuilt by that pope. The Romanesque campanile is from the 11th century.
The most important piece in this nice church is a stone with the imprints of the knees of Peter and Paul. Legend has it that a magician Simon Magus, wanted to prove that he was more powerful than the two apostels. When the magician was floating in the air, Peter and Paul fell on their knees and prayed to God to show who was the most powerful. Simon fell on the ground and died.