Hospital Ospedale Santo Spirito in Saxia (Sassia), Rome

"Hospital Ospedale Santo Spirito in Saxia (Sassia), Rome" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Wednesday 11th January 2012

Hospital Ospedale Santo Spirito in Saxia (Sassia), Rome

The Hospital was founded by Innocent III in 1200. He enlarged the old hospice (Schola Saxonum) of the Saxon king Ine. The word "Sassia" derives from "Saxonum". Pope gave the institution in the hands of Guido di Montpellier, who established l'Ordine Ospedaliero di Santo Spirito taking care of orphans, abandoned and illegitimate children, giving them board and lodging, as well as modest education. The Order of Saint Spirit was spread all over the world with the institutions similar to the Roman model, and by means of charity obtained economical power.

Here were written the first in the world hospital rules, il Liber Regulae. The hospital had remarkably grown between 1471 and 1478 by initiative of Sixtus V, who enlarged it in length and width, gave it new buildings and places. In 1571 was added the Palazzo del Commendatore, the palace of the president, when hospital's assistance was spread to all the kinds of illnesses. In 1605 Paul V founded La Banca di Santo Spirito (the bank) to face the economical part of hospital management in better way; the kind of obligations of those times that the hospital was issuing were guaranteed by its property.

Fig: s. spirito

Going in the head of the medicine in 1632 for the first time was used quinine against malaria.

The final growth of the hospital took place in the times of Alessandro VII and Benedetto XIV, which gave the impulse to begin scientific research and education in the walls of the hospital.

In the Sala Alessandrina there is Museo Storico Nazionale Dell'Arte Sanitaria (The National Museum of the History of Medicine), it contains surgery tools of 15-19th centuries; the most ancient carriage of the Red Cross; the millstone machine for quinine and etc. Here also were reconstructed the ancient drug-store and alchemy laboratory of 16th century.

To the left of the entrance to the hospital is Ruota degli Esposti, i.e. the Wheel of Foundlings. Here mothers were leaving their new-born babies to entrust them to the professionals of S.Spirito. The baby was immediately wrapped in blue cloth and to his left foot was attached the sign of double cross, symbol of the institute; he was registered as matris ignotae (mother unknown), from where comes the Italian swear word "mignotta".

Biblioteca Lancisiana (library) was founded in 1711 by Giovanni Maria Lancisi, the great medical doctor and philanthrope.

chiesa sspirito
Fig: chiesa sspirito

On the angle of the hospital building closest to St Peter's, there is a church Chiesa di S.Spirito in Sassia (pictured above). It was constructed on the place of ancient S.Maria in Saxia, which belonged to the hospice of Saxons of British origins (VII- VIII centuries). During the sack of Rome in 1527 the church was terribly damaged, hence had to be completely reconstructed. The work was entrusted to A.da Sangallo the Younger by Paul III. Decorations were executed under Pius V (1566-72), and a facade - under Sixtus V (1585-90) by O.Mascherino. The campanile, entirely Tuscan in character, and attributed to B.Pontelli, is one of the most graceful in Rome.

Inside: one nave, five chapels on each side, decorations by C.Nebbia, J.Zucchi, M.Venusti, L.Agresti.

Hospital Ospedale Santo Spirito in Saxia (Sassia)
Via Lungotevere in Sassia, 1,
00193 Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Borgo (Castel Sant'Angelo) (Roma centro)
Hospital Ospedale Santo Spirito in Saxia (Sassia) is Shown By "Map D Zone" As "23"
Subway: Ottaviano/ S.Pietro (916 m SW), Metro line A
Bus: 23 - 46 - 46/ - 64 - 62 - 98 - 271 - 571 - 870 - 881 - 916 - 982
Telephone: 0039 06 68351, 0039 06 68352109
Web site:

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