Santa Maria della Vita & Oratory of Battuti

Church in Bologna

Oratorio Dei Battuti, Santa Maria Della Vita, Bologna
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Dimitris Kamaras

The Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita is a Roman Catholic church situated in Quadrilatero district in the heart of Bologna, near Piazza Maggiore. The church, built in the late Baroque style, is an architectural gem that showcases the artistic mastery of its creators.

Construction of the present church commenced between 1687 and 1690, based on the designs of Giovanni Battista Bergonzoni. The elliptical plan of the church, featuring a magnificent dome designed by Giuseppe Tubertini, was completed in 1787. However, the facade of the church was not added until 1905, adding a captivating element to its exterior.

Inside the sanctuary, visitors will be captivated by the sculptural group known as the “Sorrow over Dead Christ.” Created by Niccolò dell’Arca in 1463, this masterpiece conveys a powerful depiction of grief and mourning.

Oratory of Battuti

Adjacent to the main church is the oratory, constructed between 1604 and 1617 according to the designs of Floriano Ambrosini. Notable artworks within the oratory include the “Madonna with Child and Saints” by Nosadella, dating back to 1550, and the “Transit of the Madonna” by Alfonso Lombardi, a group of 14 terracotta statues from 1522.

The walls of the sanctuary feature statues of St. Proculus and St. Petronius, crafted by renowned sculptor Alessandro Algardi, as well as statues of St. Francis and St. Dominic by Giulio Cesare Conventi. It is worth noting that in 1275, the local Confraternita dei Battuti Bianchi, a flagellant confraternity, was established and supported a hospital at this site, adding historical significance to the sanctuary.

Museum of Health and Assistance

Within the complex, visitors can explore the Museum of Health and Assistance (Museo della Sanità e dell’Assistenza), a treasure trove of historical artifacts and artworks that provide insights into the rich medical history of Bologna.

The museum showcases a fascinating collection of medical instruments and scientific materials, offering a glimpse into the practices of the past. Paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries adorn the walls, capturing the essence of medical advancements and the role of healthcare in society during that era.

Sacred furnishings and vestments are also on display, highlighting the intersection of faith and healing in Bologna’s history. A particular highlight of the museum is a remarkable collection of 150 small trees from the old pharmacy of the hospital. These miniature botanical specimens offer a unique perspective on the traditional uses of medicinal plants.

Additionally, visitors will have the opportunity to admire a renowned masterpiece known as the “jewel” of the Sun King. This exquisite miniature, embellished with diamonds, portrays the Sun King himself, Louis XIV, and was created by Jean Petitot, a celebrated artist of the time.

The Santa Maria della Vita & Oratory of Battuti appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Bologna!

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Visiting Santa Maria della Vita & Oratory of Battuti


From Tuesday to Sunday: 10am – 6:30pm. Last entrance 1h before closing time.



Address: Santa Maria della Vita, Via Clavature, Bologna, Metropolitan City of Bologna, Italy
Duration: 30 minutes

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