Its origin is referred to in one of the oldest documents written in Sardinian language, the story of its construction is true evolution over time and its present is that of one of the most captivating examples of Romanesque style on the island. The church of Santa Maria, parish church of Bonarcado, raised to the rank of minor basilica in 2011, stands in front of the early medieval sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Bonacatu, one of the very first Christian churches in Sardinia, as well as the site of the oldest documented Marian cult in the region.

The sources, particularly the condaghe of Santa Maria di Bonarcado, trace the beginning of its history back to around 1100, when the judge of Arborea, Constantine I, decided to found a Camaldolese monastery near the pre-existing little church. A few decades later, the same monks began to build the clesia nova, because the first one was too small to meet the needs of the community.