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Today’s church is dedicated to the martyr Saint Apollinaris, a disciple of Saint Peter and the first bishop of Ravenna. He was responsible for converting many to the faith and faced nearly constant persecution throughout his life. He was arrested on three occasions and thrown out of the city. When he returned yet again, and was arrested yet again, he was beaten and left for dead. He eventually died from the wounds.
This church was founded in the seventh century, using materials from nearby imperial ruins. It was declared a station church by Pope Gregory II in the eighth century. One thousand years later, Pope Benedict XIV completely rebuilt and rededicated the church.
Just outside the church is the Chapel of Graces. Inside is a fifteenth century fresco of The Virgin, Queen of Apostles. During the sack of Rome, in 1527, priests covered the fresco with lime to hide it from attack. It was not rediscovered until 1645 after an earthquake shook free some of the lime.
Over the centuries, the church has been served by Basilian Monks, then the Jesuits, followed by the Lazzarists and now Opus Dei. Today the church is part of the Opus Dei Pontifical Institute of Saint Apollinaris.
Below the main altar are many relics from Eastern martyrs brought over by the Basilian Monks.