Ancient hospital (now Congress center) near Vatican City in Rome, adjacent to the modern Holy Spirit Hospital, that continues its tradition. It was established in 1198 by Pope Innocent III in the place where in ancient times the “School of the Saxons” resided. Moved from the Botteghe Oscure, Father Camillus and his companions daily began to attend the hospital, that will become the ‘playground’ of the Nova Caritatis Schola, as Pope Benedict XIV called the Camillian Order in 1746.
The presence of St. Camillus
Camillus often visits the Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Saxia for over 29 years. Among the most significant episodes of such attendance, there is the Christmas Eve of 1598: a flood of the most memorable and disastrous strikes Rome, especiallyaroundthe Hospital.Ononeofthe brickcolumns of the external porch, at the beginning of Borgo Santo Spirito, there is still a plaque marking the level reached at the time by the muddy waters of the river. During all that tragic night, Camillus does nothing but rescue the poor infirm putting them on his shoulders, oblivious of the fact that the water is reaching his knees. It is significant that after more than one hundred years Pierre Subleyras (1699-1749) has portrayed this dramatic event in a large canvas, now in the Museum of Rome at Palazzo Braschi.
Unfortunately there is no plate or plaque to remind the long presence and great work of Camillus de Lellis in these places, despite in the pretty, small, ancient internal porch many plaques dedicated to the important people who have attended the Hospital chase all around. The bas-relief dedicated to St. Camillus that from the Hospital of Consolation was brought here is missing. It was moved from there when the Hospital of Consolation was closed in 1930 and placed at the surgical department, together with one dedicated to St. Luigi Gonzaga, now placed at the entrance of the Day Hospital, who died serving the infirm during the deadly epidemic in 1591, when five Camillians sacrificed their lives. The two Charity’s Monuments, one dedicated to St. Camillus, made of piperine stone, the other in Carrara marble, were moved during the restructurings in view of the Great Jubilee of 2000. The eulogy written in Latin on the inscription said: “To St. Camillus de Lellis, patron of the dying, who holily sacrificed his life serving the sick, spectacle to angels and luminary to men, this memento the Hospital, on the first anniversary of its restoration, 1822, places and consecrates”.
Holy Spirit in Saxia Monumental Complex: the old building of the former Hospital of the Holy Spirit now houses a conference centre, venue for events, concerts, exhibitions, etc. It is currently indefinitely closed for renovation.
Sistine Ward: strongly desired by Pope Sixtus IV after the devastations, lootings and arsons, it is the main hospital building. Surmounted by an octagonal tower, the ward is an immense hall 120m long and 12m wide, divided into two distinct sections by a lantern, which connects the two rooms, and is divided into two orders: on the outside you can admire mullioned windows with two and three lights attributed to the architect Giovanni Pietro Ghirlanducci, while inside there are seashell-shaped niches, containing statues of the Apostles, and barrel underarches, that suggest the attribution to the artist Giovannino de’ Dolci. At the centre of the lantern there is an altar, which should be the only Roman work designed by Palladio.
Piazza San Pietro: the famous square, a remarkable example of baroque architecture and urbanism, is dedicated to the eponymous Saint and is a daily meeting point for thousands of faithful Catholics from around the world. The space of the square consists of two parts: the first one has the shape of an inverted trapezoid whose largest side corresponds to the facade with specific perspective motives; the second one is larger, oval-shaped with the Vatican obelisk in the centre. An imponent architraved colonnade unifies the two large spaces. In front of the square itself there is another space that serves as a vestibule (Piazza Rusticucci, now Piazza Pio XII) and that leads to the twentieth century’s Via della Conciliazione.
Castel Sant’Angelo: dalso known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, it is connected with the Vatican through a fortified corridor called “Passetto”. The castle has been radically changed several times during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is located on the right bank of the Tiber, opposite the Pons Aelius (now Ponte Sant’Angelo) within easy walking distance from the Vatican, in the Borgo district.
How to get there
From Termini Station take bus n. 40, get off at the Argentina stop and continue on foot (300m).
From Tiburtina Station take metro A, get off at Termini and take bus n. 40, get off at the Argentina stop and continue on foot (300m).
Bus numbers 119, 186, 492, 62, 64, 780, 810, 87, 916F, 46, 571, 628, 70, 81, 87, 916, C3, and get off at the Botteghe Oscure stop. atac.roma.itt