The basilica was built on the ruins of the Diana Tifatina Temple known as in formis or ad formas, on account of the many aqueducts in the area carrying water from Mount Tifata to Capua. A church already existed here at the beginning of the 10th century when Bishop Peter I of Capua conceded the land to the monks of Montecassino. In 1053 after various vicissitudes Desiderius the renowned Abbot of Montecassino rebuilt the church in its present-day form and also reconstructed the shrine which became rich and powerful. However in 1417 the shrine was suppressed as such and the building complex became an ecclesiastical benefice, transferred in commendam to the Carafa family. Cardinal Antonio Carafa was nominated commendatory Abbot in 1581 and for a brief time he introduced the Benedictines from the Saint Justinian congregation in Padua. In 1799 the abbey was declared subject to royal patronage and a law passed in 1866 made it State domain or property. Important restoration work was carried out on the church in the 1980s. The church front is preceded by a portico with five arches supported on four columns. These have Doric capitals and are believed to have come from the Temple of Diana. The middle archway has elongated piers, the other four are of Moorish shape. Behind the arches a portal bears an inscription in memory of Desiderius. In the early 12th century lunette we can observe Saint Michael and Madonna Praying inside a circle held by two angels. In the other archways are lunettes depicting Stories from the Lives of Saint Paul and Saint Anthony.