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Santo Spirito ai Monti

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Santo Spirito ai Monti is a lost convent church that used to stand on the former Via del Marforio, which has now completely gone since it was dug up to excavate the Forum of Trajan.


It belonged to a monastery of Augustinian Canonesses of the Lateran, which had been founded by one Petronilla Capranica in 1432. This noblewoman, when a widow, converted her palazzo into the convent. The nuns were nicknamed Rocchettine, presumably after their habit.

The convent was pretty well destroyed in the Sack of Rome in 1527, and some of the nuns were probably among those reported as having been raped to death in the streets outside their convents. It was only restored in 1582, and it seems that the church was completely rebuilt on a site slightly different from the old one.

The nuns had the convent and church of Sant'Eufemia as close neighbours on the east side.

The church and monastery were demolished in 1812, in order to start the clearance of the site of the Basilica Ulpia in the Forum of Trajan. This was the beginning of the destructive clearances of the Roman and Imperial Fora, which destroyed much of their Christian identity over the next 150 years.

The canonesses survived as a community, and initially moved to Santa Pudenziana. They now have a new monastery in the suburb of Torre Angela. Their chapel preserves the old dedication -Santo Spirito delle Monache Canonichesse.


The church was about midway along the pedestrian walkway that crosses the ruin field of the Forum of Trajan, from the Via dei Fori Imperiali to the Via Alessandrina. If you stand on this where the axis of the Forum intersects the path, you will be standing in what was the church. The apse was in the direction of the column.


This was a commodious monastery for the old centre of Rome. The main entrance was on the old Piazza di Colonna Trajana, facing the church of Santissimo Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano. This led into a large trapezoidal cloister, with arcades on the west and south sides and a little garden for the nuns to the north. The church was on the south side, with its orientation south to north.

The plan was rectangular, with a barrel vaulted nave supported by two pilasters on each side. Between each pair of pilasters was a side altar. There was a small rectangular apse.

The church had a dignified façade. This was of two storeys, with two pairs of Composite pilasters on each storey, these having plinths. The doorway had a segmental pediment, and over this was a relief carving with its own surround and triangular gabled top. The triangular pediment of the façade was occupied by a large sculptured relief.

External linksEdit

"Romeartlover" web-page

Armellini (p.167)

Nolli map (look for 114)

"De Alvariis" gallery on Flickr

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