The Monumental Complex of Santa Maria della Vita, whose management has been entrusted to the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna since 2006, was reopened to the public in 2010 after a complete restoration, joining Genus Bononiae’s museum itinerary.
The Church, whose dome was designed by the architect Bibiena, is the most important example of Bolognese baroque. Inside the Church, the famous Compianto sul Cristo Morto by Niccolò dell’Arca is preserved, that “scream of stone”, as it was defined by Gabriele D’Annunzio, that has deeply influenced the history of Italian culture.
Next to the Church is the Oratory, where it is possible to admire the terracotta sculpture group Transito della Vergine by Alfonso Lombardi, and the Old Hospital now turned into the Museum of Health and Assistance.
The Complex is also home to the Schola Gregoriana Benedetto XVI, a project which aims to promote the knowledge and dissemination of Gregorian chant. The Schola is directed by the Olivetan monk don Nicola Bellinazzo, who also teaches liturgy to promote the understanding and interpretation of Gregorian chant.
Built in the XIII century, the Complex was originally constituted by the Hospital and the Church. Raniero Barcobini Fasani, left his hometown Perugia in 1260 with some disciples heading to Bologna, inspired to do so by the Virgin Mary. He arrived in the city with about 20.000 followers in 1261 when he founded the Confraternity of the White Flagellants and established a hospital that took care of the pilgrims and invalids.
Thus the Hospital, the Confraternity and the Church dedicated to Santa Maria della Vita came to life. Over the centuries the Hospital became an important care centre whereas the Oratory was enriched with magnificent works of art. Following Napoleon’s reforms of 1796-97, the confraternity’s possessions were expropriated and made public.
In 1801 the Great Hospital of Life and Death incorporated other local hospitals, until 1814, when the Complex took the name of Ospedale Maggiore, then destroyed during the bombings in 1943. The Sanctuary and its pertinencies constitute the heart of the historical centre of Bologna, the so called “Quadrilatero”.