Church of Our Lady of the Souls
Santa Maria dell'Anima (Italian)
Santa Maria del Anima I.jpg

Façade of the church of Our Lady of the Souls

Basic information
Location Italy Rome
Geographic coordinates 41°53′59.1″N 12°28′19.3″E / 41.89975°N 12.472028°E / 41.89975; 12.472028Coordinates: 41°53′59.1″N 12°28′19.3″E / 41.89975°N 12.472028°E / 41.89975; 12.472028
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Year consecrated 1542
Ecclesiastical status National Church in Rome of Germany
Leadership Don Franz Xaver Brandmayr
Architectural description
Architect(s) Andrea Sansovino, Giuliano da Sangallo
Architectural type Church
Architectural style hall church
Direction of facade E
Groundbreaking 1386
Year completed 1522
Length 40 metres (130 ft)
Width 30 metres (98 ft)

The Church of Our Lady of the Souls (Italian: Santa Maria dell'Anima) is a Roman Catholic church in central Rome, just west of the Piazza Navona and near the Santa Maria della Pace church. It was the national church of the Holy Roman Empire in Rome. The church is today the national church and hospice of German-speaking people in Rome.

Saint Maria dell'Anima received its name, according to tradition, from the picture of Our Lady which forms its coat of arms (the Blessed Virgin between two souls)[1]. Among its treasures is the famous Holy Family of Giulio Romano. It is the resting place of the Dutch Pope Pope Adrian VI as well as of Cardinals William of Enckenvoirt and Andrew of Austria.


14th and 15th century

Santa Maria dell'Anima is one of the many medieval charity institutions built for pilgrims in Rome. The church found its origin in 1350, when Johannes (Jan) and Katharina Peters of Dordrecht bought three houses and turned it into a a private hospice for pilgrims, at the occasion of the Jubilee of 1350. Jan Peters may have been a Dutch merchant or papal soldier. They named the hospice "Beatae Mariae Animarum" ("Saint Mary of the Souls"). It was erected on its present site in 1386. In the 15th century Santa Maria dell'Anima expanded to be a hostel for visitors from the entire Holy Roman Empire, though initially the occupants were primarily from the Low Countries and (from the middle 15th century) the Rhineland.

The hospice was first mentioned in 1398 in a bull of Pope Boniface IX, which granted it indulgences. In 1406, it was raised to the rank of a national institution and united with a Brotherhood governed by Provisors and a Congregation. On May 21, 1406 Pope Innocent VII in his bull Piae Postulatio declared the hospice exempted it from all but papal jurisdiction, and took it under his immediate protection. In 1418, it was greatly enriched by the legacy of its second founder, Diedrich of Niem.

The Popes of the fifteenth century, with the exception of Pope Sixtus IV, showed it great favour. In 1431 a church was built on the place of the hospice's chapel (consecrated by Pope Eugene IV in 1444) and the community was united with the German hospice of St. Andrew which had been founded in 1372 by the priest Nicholas of Kulm. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Santa Maria dell'Anima became the national and religious centre as well as burial place in Rome of the Holy Roman Empire.

16th-17th century

Johann Burchard from Strasbourg joined the Confraternity of Santa Maria dell'Anima and rose to be its provost at the end of the 15th century. While he held this office, the decision was made to rebuild the church for the Jubilee of 1500. The present church which owes its Renaissance style to the influence of Bramante, was built by German subscriptions, between 1499 and 1522. It stands on the site of the older church, built between 1431 and 1499, and was decorated by the great artists of the period.

The church was built in the style of a hall church that was typical for Northern Europe, but which sits awkwardly amid the Italianate churches of Rome. Andrea Sansovino was retained as architect. The facade was completed by Giuliano da Sangallo. The new church was consecrated only on Nov 25 1542.

18th-20th century

During the Napoleonic occupation, the church was plundered and the sacristy used as a horse stable. In 1844, the (new) Belgian community moved to the Church of St. Julian of the Flemings. In 1859, under the influence of the era's nationalism, the Confraternity was transformed to a German seminary and renamed the Collegio Teutonico di Santa Maria dell'Anima. Dutch Catholics retained the Anima as their national church, but after extended conflicts left it in 1939 (since 1992 the San Michele dei Frisoni near the Vatican has taken that role).



Funeral monument of Pope Adrian VI

Among the artistic treasures of the church are (in chronological order):

  1. A altarpiece painted by Giulio Romano in 1521-22 for a Fugger family, depicting the Sacred Family and donors (Mark and Giacomo Fugger).
  2. The funeral monument of Pope Adrian VI (1459-1523), commissioned by his friend, cardinal Willem van Enckevoirt and designed in part by Baldassarre Peruzzi. Adrian was born in Utrecht, had been the tutor of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and would be the last non-Italian pope until John Paul II, 456 years later.
  3. An altarpiece (1532) by Lorenzetto.
  4. The funeral monument of Willem van Enckevoirt (1464-1534), bishop of Tortosa (1522-1534) and of Utrecht (1529-1534). The monument by Giovanni Mangoni was originally located next to Adrian's monument, but was moved to near the main entrance in 1575. Adrian VI had made him cardinal priest in September 1523, just four days before the pope's death. He was only the second Dutch cardinal (after Adrian VI himself) and was executor of the pope's testament.
  5. A Deposition (1550) by Francesco Salviati
  6. A painting by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta.
  7. The funeral monument of Andrew of Austria (1558-1600), cardinal since 1573, bishop of both Constance (1589-1600) and Brixen (1591-1900), Margrave of Burgau, and in 1598-1599 governor of Flanders [1]. Oldest child of Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria and his morganatic wife Philippine Welser.
  8. Miracles of Saint Benno and Martyrdom of Saint Lambert (1618) painted by Carlo Saraceni.



Note: This article contains public domain text from the article Wikisource-logo.svg Schmidlin, J. (1913). "College and Church of the Anima (in Rome)". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 

no:Santa Maria dell'Anima

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