History of the foundation of the church of Santa Maria della Pace
Walking along via Tribunali, past the Pio Monte della Misericordia, on the right side of the road we come across a little-known church of great historical value: Santa Maria della Pace.
The history of the complex has its roots in 1587 when the order of San Giovanni di Dio purchased the building that in the previous century had belonged to a famous person: Ser Gianni Caracciolo, Grand Seneschal of the kingdom and lover of Queen Giovanna II.
The friars transformed the palace into a hospital, endowing it a few years later with a small church dedicated to St. Christopher.
But it was in 1629 that the present church began to be built, in honor of the Peace of Crepy, signed the previous century between Spain and France ...
The architect Pietro De Marino was the creator of the renewed sanctuary.
The main works of art of the church of Santa Maria della Pace
The church of Santa Maria della Pace is a small treasure trove of baroque memories. Already its facade is worthy of admiration for the precious marbles worked by Jacopo and Dionisio Lazzari.
Inside there are very valuable stucco works made "in pairs" by Pietro Buonocore and Nicola Tagliacozzi Canale. If you look up to the sky you can admire the fresco by Michele Foschini in 1738 depicting the alms of St. John of God, unfortunately gravely damaged by the neglect of time and of men, and only recently recovered thanks to some interventions of restoration.
Looking back at the bare earth, we can admire the beautiful floor still designed by Tagliacozzi Canale, of great interest for the richness of symbolic decorations: one above all the pomegranate, herald of the Hospitaller Order, a symbol that recurs several times inside the sanctuary .
Last, but not least, the most representative works of the church, or the four marble statues made by Agostino Felici representing Sant'Anna, San Giuseppe, San Giovanni Battista and San Giovanni di Dio. The sculptures are placed in four niches realized by Gennaro Ragozzini in pillars of the cruise, mini-quote of the famous and grandiloquent baroque sculptures of the cruise of San Pietro signed by "Bernini & Co".
The cloisters and the hospital of Santa Maria della Pace: what remains of Ser Gianni
Leaving the church, on the left we can admire what remains of the aforementioned palace of Ser Gianni: a beautiful portal with a round arch and the stone base of the building. Crossing the "last memory" of the Great Siniscalco we can admire the two cloisters of Santa Maria della Pace. Of particular interest is the second cloister which is located at a level lower than 4 meters from the first one: the singular choice was adopted to adapt the structure to the existing height difference between via Tribunali and the back vico Nuovo Pace.
Worthy of note is the Sala del Lazzaretto which can be accessed through a staircase at the entrance. Here you can still admire the loopholes through which the patients were served food, an environment embellished with frescoes by Andrea Viola and Giacinto Diano. After having fulfilled its health duties until 1974, today the building houses judicial offices.
How and when to get to the church of Santa Maria della Pace
The church of Santa Maria della Pace is located in Via Tribunali 181 and can be easily reached on foot from the central station of Piazza Garibaldi.
The church can be visited from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 12:00.