All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in October 2010.
Spedale di S. Gallicano (Book 9) (Day 6) (View D10) (Rione Trastevere)
In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
The Plate (No. 174)
This 1759 etching by Giuseppe Vasi shows what at the time was a very modern hospital which was built in 1729 for the cure of cutaneous infections; a continuous balcony along the two long wards allowed the opening and closing of the windows without disturbing the patients; the main altar of the central chapel was visible from the wards, so that the sick could attend ceremonies without leaving their beds; unfortunately from an architectural viewpoint the long front of the hospital was located in a very narrow street, a fact which Vasi ignored in his view.
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Male section of the Hospital; 2) Female section of the Hospital; 3) rear side of S. Crisogono.
A very recent restoration has brought back the light colours which were in use in the XVIIIth century; the image above shows on the right also the short ward for children which was added by Pope Benedict XIV in 1754.
The building is currently used as a day hospital caring mainly for the homeless and the immigrants without a work permit.
Scabies and tinea capitis, a kind of ringworm, were very common diseases among the lowest classes; at the beginning of the XVIIIth century their causes were identified and in 1722, Don Emilio Lami, a priest and doctor at S. Galla, opened a small hospital near S. Benedetto in Piscinula which was specifically dedicated to curing these diseases. The activity of this hospital was supported by Cardinal Pietro Corradini who in 1723 convinced the newly elected Pope Benedict XIII to build a larger hospital.
The design of the new building was commissioned to Filippo Raguzzini, the pope's preferred architect, who knew him while he was legate in Benevento, a small papal enclave in the Kingdom of Naples. Raguzzini was looked down on by the Roman architects, yet some aspects of S. Gallicano, such as the projecting fašade of the chapel, show that he followed typical Roman patterns; he is mainly appreciated for the houses opposite S. Ignazio.
In order to finance the construction of the hospital the pope made use of an amount bequeathed by Giovanni Maria Lancisi, the physician of Pope Clement XI, for the enlargement of S. Spirito in Sassia.
The hospital was dedicated to St. Gallicanus, a Roman general at the time of Emperor Constantine, who became a Christian and founded a hospital in Ostia.
In the XIXth century the facilities of the hospital were enlarged with the addition of an anatomical theatre where the head surgeon lectured on anatomy.
The medieval aspect of S. Crisogono was modified in the early XVIIth century; a door opposite S. Gallicano leads to a spacious courtyard which allows a good view of the southern wall of S. Crisogono, which shows the various changes (opening and closing of doors and windows) which have occurred though the centuries.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Next plate in Book 9: Ospizio e Chiesa di S. Luigi della Nazione Francese
Next step in Day 6 itinerary: Chiesa e Convento di S. Crisogono