Ex Ospedale San Rocco

The former hospital of San Rocco is located in Matera (Piazza San Giovanni Battista), just outside the Sassi.

Panoramic view of Sassi, Matera

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Piazza San Giovanni Battista

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The construction of the hospital of San Rocco is closely connected to that of the adjacent Church of San Giovanni Battista, built in 1233 and later called Santa Maria la Nova.
In 1348, after a virulent plague that afflicted the city, the Universitas of Matera constructed the hospital opposite the Church to receive pilgrims and the needy sick.

Facade of the Church of San Giovanni Battista

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Inside of the Church San Giovanni Battista

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The structure, which over the years had survived in straitened circumstances, was in bad condition by the end of the sixteenth century. In 1604 the complex was given to the community of Reformed Franciscans who then constructed a new monastery. The population, deprived of the hospital, decided to construct a new building in 1610 and chose, as the site for it, the area in front of the Church of Santa Maria la Nova that had not been used for over a century, as the nuns has abandoned it in 1480. The new hospital had a courtyard with various rooms leading off it and a large hall.

The hospital's courtyard

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In 1615, the Church of Cristo Flagellato was built in the courtyard of the hospital and entrusted to the Confraternity of Artists. The Church was rebuilt in 1708 and frescoed in 1710 at the expense of various patrons.

Entrance of the Church of Cristo Flagellato

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Fresco of the Church of Cristo Flagellato

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When the Hospitaller Fathers of Saint John of God arrived to run the hospital in 1726, the whole complex underwent a restructuring programme that culminated in the building of a more decorous portal to the entrance, which bore the coat of arms of the religious order –a pomegranate surmounted by a cross- and that of the city of Matera; an inscription in large letters indicates the complex’s function.

Coat of arms of the Hospitaller Fathers of Saint John of God on the front door

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Inscription on the facade: CHI VUOL FARE DEL CIEL UN DEGNO ACQUISTO ENTRI QUI DENTRO A VISITAR GL'INFERMI CON MAN PORGENTE AL CUOR DI CRISTO - A.D. 1610

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The Hospitaller Fathers of Saint John of God did not stay very long. In 1749 they suddenly abandoned the city because they were very much against a decision to transfers a large number of prisoners to the hospital. From then onwards the building was to undergo major alterations; the former hospital was used as a prison and as the offices of the Red Cross.

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The story of the former hospital is not over yet! Today it hosts several exhibitions and events … in the Christmas period it is possible to observe nativity scenes.

Room used for exhibitions

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  • Photos, main text and layout page by Nicolò Cefalo moc.liamg|7olafec.olocin#| and Maria Tucci ti.liamtoh|99.iccutairam#|

Bibliography

  • F. DI PEDE - G. BUONSANTI, I luoghi della memoria

Sitography

Footnotes

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