old Ospedale dei Pellegrini

The old "Ospedale dei Pellegrini" is located in Rome (via dei Pettinari, 36/a).

The origin

In 1540, by input of the Florentine Filippo Neri, a group of seculars started to meet in the Roman Church of “San Girolamo alla Carità” to conduct charity initiatives. The members grew in number shortly after so that Filippo had to assign a canonical status to his association that consequently was acknowledged by the Pope Paolo III as the “Confraternita Della Santissima Trinità Del Sussidio” (Confraternity of the Holy Trinity).

During the 1550, Jubilee the confraternity hosted the pilgrims but once the Holy Year ended, it started to pay attention to the needy sick people giving them the possibility to recover.

The pious foundation, supported by Giulio III del Monte and his successors, soon became important so that in 1558 Pope Paolo IV gave it the old buildings of the 1300 church of “San Benedetto de Arenula” also known as “degli Scozzesi” built in the fourteenth century.

Saint Filippo Neri, also said “Pippo bono” by the guys, that is the famous saint who still spoke with a Tuscan accent and dialect but had become a ‘Roman’ by adoption and used to repeat ‘siate buoni se potete‘ (be kind if you can), made efforts to spread Christian Charity.
Filippo and his followers frequented the poorest areas, hospitals and jails with great dedication showing the concrete meaning of Christian love and their job led Pope Gregorio XIII to build, in 1575, the rectory of the Congregation of the Oratory Priests later called “Filippini” giving it the church of “Santa Maria in Vallicella”.

During the 1575 Jubilee the Confraternity housed 180 000 people.

The structure

The building conditions were not safe so it was suppressed to be rebuilt from 1587 onward. Parts of the construction as the dome and the façade were completed during the following decades, a complex equipped with wide dormitories, and refectories replaced the old church.

The architect Giovanni Paolo Maggi, except for the façade designed by Francesco De Sanctis in 1723 and adorned with the Quattro Evangelisti statues made by Bernardino Ludovisi, designed the new building.


Facade details, the Four Evangelists by Bernardino Ludovisi

The church was renamed “Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini” (Church of the Most Holy Trinity of Pilgrims) and in the years following 1575 Jubilee, while the confraternity started to take pilgrims into care, it became the most important place to stay for those who visited Rome for religious matters hosting up to 400 000 people until 1825 Jubilee.


Church of the Most Holy Trinity of Pilgrims today, since 1723

The church had a huge lodging built in 1625. In an area of the building pilgrims could have their foot washing by nobles and cardinals.

Italy's struggle for independence period

During the 1849 French siege of Tome the Pilgrims Hospital hosted the “Comitato di Soccorso pei Feriti“ (Assistance Committee for the Wounded) directed by father Alessandro Gavazzi in name only but lead by Princess Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso. Other important women were in the Commettee, as Giulia Bovio Paolucci de Calboli, Giulia Calame Modena, Enrichetta di Lorenzo Pisacane and the American journalist Margaret Fuller Ossoli and many others that organized groups of women assisting the wounded in turn.

During the whole siege, the Pilgrims Hospital took care of more than 1500 wounded people: among them, even patriot Goffredo Mameli from Genoa because of a wounded leg that was amputated. He died there and an inscription on the left side of the gate says: “In this home the poet Goffredo Mameli and many other valorous men died wounded to defend Rome to free Italy in the year MDCCCXLIX “.


The inscription dedicated to Goffredo Mameli

Politic upheavals of the Papal State and of Rome itself during the first years of the Italian Reign caused the suppression of the Holy Years 1850 and 1875 so the confraternity lost its peculiarity and the church turned into a common one as many others in the city.

There is just a simple inscription to remember its past.


Inscription in the central part of the façade, between the second and the third floor: “Lodging for convalescents and pilgrims”.

  • Photos and main text by Carla Maria Grimaldi ti.oiligriv|idlamirg.enelrahc#| and Calogero Piazza ti.liamtoh|oreg_olac#| (January 2016)


  • Vita di S. Filippo Neri Fiorentino, fondatore della Congregazione dell'Oratorio by Bacci, Pietro Giacomo; Ricci, Giacomo; pp. 748


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