Dedicated to the patron of Cagliari, the Basilica is part of the oldest Christian cemeteries in Cagliari, one of the most important early Christian complex of Sardinia. The building, dating back to the V-VI centuries AD, was erected on the grave of San Saturnino, who was martyred in 304. The title is registered for the first time in a step of the deacon Ferrando, biographer of Fulgentius, the bishop in Scrapers first quarter of the sixth century was exiled by king Thrasamund from north Africa to Cagliari, where he stayed twice and founded a monastery. "iuxta basilicam sancti martyris Saturnini"
of the original building, a Greek cross with hemispherical dome intersection of the arms, there remain only the central part of the apse and body. In 1089 the judge of Cagliari Salusio Constantine II de Lacon-Gunale donated to the Basilica of Marseilles Vittorini. Monks restructured it typically forms in early Romanesque and established the seat of the Order Sardinian priory. During this phase, due to Provence masons, it was maintained the domed central body were rebuilt and the four arms, of which only remains intact the eastern one, three aisles and apse, with facing limestone of Bonaria, duotone hints due to the insertion volcanic blocks and use of bare marble. The central nave has a barrel vault set to frame and marked by under-arches, while the aisles have vaults in Cantonetti.
After having been damaged during the fourteenth century, the basilica became the property in the mid-fifteenth century , the archdiocese of Cagliari. Celebrate the archaeological excavations carried out since 1614 in search of the "holy bodies", that the relics of the martyrs, who brought to light numerous burials. At the end of that century the basilica was partly dismantled in order to obtain material for the Baroque reconstruction of Cagliari cathedral. During the twentieth century it has been the subject of various interventions of restoration while the area of the necropolis is still affected by archaeological excavations.