Santa Maria Salus Infirmorum is an earlier 20th century Fascist-era hospital church in the enormous Ospedale San Camillo in the Gianicolense quarter. The postal address is Circonvallazione Gianicolense 87, but the church is on the Salita di San Carlo which is a named street within the hospital complex.
Under Papal rule, the city had had a dedicated system of hospitals dominated by that of Santo Spirito in Sassia. This had arisen through a combination of private patronage and direct intervention by the papal government, and arguably in the 17th century was the best in Europe. Notable among those active in the care of sick people were the Camillians, founded in Rome by St Camillus de Lellis for the purpose of medical care. Mainly the cost was defrayed not out of taxation or levies, but through income obtained from landholdings.
However, planning was ad-hoc and vested interests prevented the city's health service from responding well either to changing needs or to mutating standards and expectations in hospital care. So, by the time that Rome was conquered by Italy in 1870 the city's hospitals had become inadequate both in capacity and in facilities.
The first thing that the new government did was to rationalise the chaotic system of management, and to remove the governing influence of religious congregations such as the Camillians. This was completed by the formal setting up of the Pio Istituto di Santo Spirito e Ospedali Riuniti in 1896 which controlled the city's hospitals and also their property portfolios.
The urgent need for new hospital facilities mostly had to wait until the promulgation of a formal development plan for the city in 1909, under the aegis of the then city mayor Ernesto Nathan. A vineyard already belonging to the Pio Istituto was utilised, and from 1919 to 1922 the Ospedale della Vittoria project was underway.
Unfortunately, a funding stream for the project was not properly set up. The Fascist government intervened to the good, and Mussolini personally authorised the cash sum of twenty seven million lire for its completion. Work began again in 1927 and took two years, the architect being Emanuele Caniggia. The church was one of the last edifices in the original complex to be added, being consecrated in 1930.
The Camillians were entrusted with the chaplaincy of the hospital, including the administration of the church. Their founder was honoured when the hospital was renamed Ospedale di San Camillo after the Second World War. It is now L'azienda ospedaliera San Camillo-Forlanini after union with an originally separate hospital.
The hospital chaplaincy has charge of three house chapels in various parts of the hospital, as well as the main church.
Layout and fabric Edit
This is an impressively tall, single-naved neo-Baroque edifice with five bays (the near and far ones shallower than the middle three) and a lower semi-circular apse. It abuts two wings of the presbyterate to the right, which themselves join onto the main block to create an enclosed courtyard or cortile.
The fabric seems to be in brick, which is rendered. The architectural details are in a light purplish grey, while the background exterior is in a yellow ochre which is badly weathered. In fact, the church is obviously overdue for a restoration and the ochre is lost off the apse.
The edifice stands on a tall plinth, hinting at a crypt. Each of the side walls has two pairs of gigantic Tuscan Doric pilasters occupying the near end far ends, and in between two more single pilasters dividing the middle three bays. Each of these three bays has a large lunette window fitting exactly into the width provided between the pilasters, and this has a stone frame which is wider along the bottom edge where it sits on a projecting sill. A molded string course connects the pilasters below the capitals, and the pilasters support a deep entablature with a projecting roofline cornice.
The nave roof is pitched and tiled. However, the apse roof is flat.
The apse has a string course running round it at the level of the nave lunette sills, and above it the wall is divided into three zones by two short pilasters. In each zone is a horizontal oval window. The entablature is in the same style as the nave, with a tiled cornice below the roof parapet. The wall below the string course is blank, except for two blind pilasters matching those above.
There is a gabled campanile or bellcote, with a round-headed opening for a single bell, over the far end of the right hand nave wall.
The façade has a single storey. Two pairs of gigantic Tuscan Doric pilasters on very high plinths support an entablature and triangular pediment, the former being slightly posted out over the pilaster capitals. The tympanum of the pediment contains the emblem of the Pio Istituto di Santo Spirito e Ospedali Riuniti which is a cross with two bars.
The large and monumental single entrance doorway has a molded Baroque doorcase with the beading angled on the lintel to make way for an epigraph which was never carved. Two posts at the corners of the lintel support a raised triangular pediment, and the sides of the doorcase sport a pair of Tuscan Doric semi-pilasters which are also posted above their half-capitals to support this pediment.
The tympanum of the latter contains a high-relief Baroque coat-of-arms, which again was left blank. It breaks through the angle of the pediment to rise to a crown, so presumably the Italian royal coat of arms was intended. The shield is flanked by a pair of cornucopias, facing downwards.
Over the crown is a large vertical rectangular window with a simple Baroque frame.
The roofline of the pediment have three Baroque plinths over it. The first bears a cross finial (a wooden replacement), while the other two bear stone urn finials.
The interior is simple, done out in white with details in light grey and a dado in pale yellow.
The altar has a Baroque aedicule, featuring two derivative Corinthian columns in highly polished grey-veined marble in front of a pair of matching pilasters. These support a pair of high posts, which themselves support a triangular entablature with a broken cornice, the break being echoed by the central part of the pediment molding being set well back. The tympanum contains a winged putto's head, and below this is an urn with drapery.
The adicule contains a polychrome statue of the Madonna and Child, Salus infirmorum, in a sunken round-headed aperture filled with a Baroque glory which is white on ochre. She stands on a high plinth with a tablet in yellow-veined marble, and below this is the round-headed tabernacle. This is flanked by a strip just above the altar in polychrome marble work, red below the statue and pale green below the column bases.
A pair of gigantic volutes flank the aedicule.
Mass is celebrated, according to the Diocese (August 2018):
Saturdays and eves of Solemniites 17:00 (19:00 May to September);
Sundays and Solemnities 7:30, 10:00, 17:00 (19:00 May to September).
External chapels Edit
The three house chapels have the following Mass schedule:
Cappella Maternità -Sundays and Solemnities 8:30;
Cappella Nuovi Padiglioni -Tuesdays and Saturdays 7:45, Thursdays 17:00, Sundays and Solemnities 8:30;
Cappella Piastra -Sundays and Solemnities 8:30.