All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in June 2009.
Spedale di S. Giovanni
in Laterano (Book
A3) (Day 1) (View C9)
In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
SS. Andrea e Bartolomeo
The Plate (No. 172)
The hospital (men's ward): (left) entrance; (centre) column erected during the pontificate of Pope Leo X; (right-above) sacred image on the old portico; (right-below) coat of arms of Everso II degli Anguillara who made a donation for the XVth century enlargement of the hospital.
Vasi names the hospital after S. Giovanni in Laterano the basilica which stands opposite to it; a more appropriate name to design this institution is Ospedale del Salvatore (Saviour),
because it was founded by a brotherhood which was responsible for the custody of a sacred image of Jesus. This image was regarded as acheiropoieta, i.e. not made by a human painter. It is kept in the Lateran Palace (you can see it in this external link). This explains why so many reliefs portraying the head of Jesus decorate the hospital.
We know that Ospedale del Salvatore replaced a prior hospital which was near SS. Pietro e Marcellino and which was the residence of St. Francis of Assisi when he came to Rome to ask of
Pope Innocent III the recognition of his order.
The view shows the straight street linking
S. Giovanni with Colosseo. Pope Sixtus V
the street to directly reach S. Pietro and ordered Domenico Fontana to pull down the
ancient amphitheatre, but Cardinal Santorio and others succeeded in persuading him
to spare it.
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below.
In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Fountain near the Obelisk; 2) Hospital (men's ward); 3) Hospital (women's ward); 4) Anfiteatro Flavio (Colosseo).
1) and 4) are shown in other pages. The small map shows also 5) SS. Andrea e Bartolomeo.
The view in June 2009
Overall very little has changed and
one can still see Colosseo at the end of the long street. The women's ward was not yet completed at the time Vasi did the etching (it did not have the small right wing).
The hospital (men's ward): XIVth century portal with 1348 small inscription
The hospital was founded in 1348 and it was dedicated to S. Michele, but in the following century it was enlarged and renamed Ospedale del Salvatore.
It was meant to provide help not only to the sick, but also to the poor "REFUGIUM PAUPER.(UM) ET INFIRMOR(UM)". The new portal is surrounded by a very small inscription coming from the old one with the names of the founders and the year 1348.
XIVth century portico
Ospedale di S. Michele was preceded by a portico built with eight ancient columns and which was decorated with one of the oldest reliefs portraying Jesus (see image below): the street is named after S. Stefano Rotondo which is not very far away.
Ospedale del Salvatore was modified in the XVIIth century, but the new building retained the entrance of the
old one and some other historical memories.
The hospital (men's ward)
The new hospital was designed by Giacomo Mola between 1630-36; in doing so he responded to the need to "close" Piazza di S. Giovanni and this explains
why the building is so long.
The hospital (men's ward) sacred image and inscription celebrating Pope Urban VIII
The new hospital was built during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII who is celebrated in a long inscription under a very lively sacred image.
The hospital (men's ward): (left) interior; (centre) crucifix; (right) cupboard for the Holy Oil
In the XXth century a modern hospital was built behind the old one: the men's ward is now a hall for receiving the public and
dealing with administrative aspects; until 1867 it was customary for the procession of Corpus Domini from S. Giovanni in Laterano to S. Maria Maggiore to go through the long ward.
(left) Reconstructed Roman columns; (right) 1593 fountain celebrating the concession of a link to Acqua Felice by Pope Clement VIII
The modern hospital is not considered a place for tourists, but during the hours when relatives are admitted
it is possible to visit it and find some other memories of the past.
The hospital (women's ward): fašade (left) and interior (right)
A ward reserved to women was built by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi in 1655-66, but it was not
entirely completed until the end of following century; the big coats of arms one can see in Vasi's plate belonged to the reigning pope (Pope Alexander VII) and to the City of Rome, but they have been removed. Today this ward is used as an
SS. Andrea e Bartolomeo
SS. Andrea e Bartolomeo: (left) fašade; (right) detail of the lintel
Giacomo Mola, who designed the hospital, provided it with a small church which incorporated
the portal of a previous church which existed on the same site. The fašade was modified in the following century.
The inscription means: If you believed that because you have a proud heart I consider you more, you would be
wrong: I lower the high (ones), I raise the humble.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Chiesa di S. Andrea e Spedale per gli uomini
Due grandi spedali, uno per gli uomini, l'altro per le donne, sono uniti a quella piccola
chiesa, la quale per maggior comodo degli Infermi mantiene il ss. Sagramento.
Quello degli uomini fu eretto l'an. 1216. dal Card. Gio: Colonna, e quello per le
donne fu accresciuto da fabbriche da Alessandro VI. ed amendue stanno sotto
la cura dell'Archiconfraternita del ss. Salvatore.|
Next plate in Book 9: Spedale di S. Giovanni di Dio
Next step in Day 1 itinerary: Obelisco Egizio sulla Piazza del Laterano
Next step in your tour of Rione Monti: SS. Pietro e Marcellino