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Santa Maria della Sanità

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Santa Maria della Sanità was a 16th century convent church on what is now the east corner of the Piazza di Viminale, opposite the entrance to Via Viminale on Via Agostino Depretis.

The dedication was to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Health.


This demolished church has left a rather poor record. Apparently, it was founded just after 1584 when a religious brotherhood called the Fate Bene Fratelli founded a small hospital here. This accounts for the original dedication.

In the 17th century, the little complex was granted to monks of the Syriac rite and they added a dedication to St Ephrem. Hence, the church can also be found referred to as Sant'Efrem or Santa Maria della Sanità e Sant'Efrem or Sant'Efrem e Santa Maria della Sanità. They must also have rebuilt the façade at least, which is Baroque.

The status of the convent in the 19th century is unclear. It was demolished in 1929 in order to make way for Piazza del Viminale; however, the church may have been demolished earlier.


When locating the site of this church, note that the road has been widened past the piazza. The line of the building frontages on either side should be linked in order to give the position of the façade, which is now in the roadway. The body of the church was between the fountain and the pillar marking the end of the low enclosing wall of the piazza.


This edifice is referred to in sources as a chiesuola (small church), but it was actually a fair-sized church. The plan was rectangular; four columns divided the nave into a Greek cross, and two further pilasters on each side helped support the ceiling vault. A side altar was between each pair. Unusually, there were three apses of the same size at the far end; these are appropriate to an Oriental rite.

The convent had two small wings, one attached to the back of the church and another beyond that parallel to the road.

The façade had two storeys, the first being about twice the height of the second. The former had a high plinth, into which the doorway was set. Four pilasters with Doric bases but no capitals stood on this, and supported two separate sections of entablature. Above the pilasters were inverted plinths in lieu of capitals. In between the inner pair of pilasters, where the entablature was broken, a large rectangular window with a relief frame made up of two conjoined Latin cross design elements was intruded. Below this, the doorway had volutes on either side of the lintel, a dedicatory inscription above the latter and a vertical elliptical tondo on a stylized mountain in stucco above that in turn. The tondo intruded on the large window, and contained a fresco of Our Lady.

In between the pairs of pilasters on this storey were two small square windows in Baroque frames.

The second storey had four pilasters with an entablature in the same style, but without bases. The side windows here were rectangular. The central window was round-headed, had a metal balcony and also a molded archivolt which intruded into the entablature. Above the inner pair of pilasters was a small triangular pediment with a blank tympanum.

This storey also sported two fragments of segmental pediment, placed in front of the inner pair of pilasters either side of the window balcony. This gave a little distinction to what was otherwise a rather plain composition.

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