Santa Maria della Purificazione in Banchi was a heavily restored 13th century expatriates' confraternity church that used to stand on the west corner of the junction of Via del Banco di Santo Spirito and Corso Vittorio Emanuele in the rione Ponte.

The dedication was to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the aspect of her Purification, celebrated as Candlemas.


The first mention of this church was in a bull of Pope Urban III in 1186, when it was a dependency of the parish church of Sant'Orso de Ponte (later Sant'Orsola della Pietà). Back then it was known as Santo Stefano de Ponte. It seems to have been rebuilt in the 13th century.

However it fell into decay in the 15th century, and in 1444 was granted by Pope Eugene IV (confirmed by Pope Sixtus IV in 1473) to a confraternity of expatriates. Oddly, this Confraternita dei Transalpini was made up of people from six separate countries: France, Burgundy, Savoy, Lorraine, Germany and Flanders. The last two groups left to join the more nationalistic confraternity of the Holy Roman Empire running Santa Maria dell'Anima, but the other four remained together until the end of the 18th century.

The confraternity re-dedicated the church, which was also then known as dei Transalpini, delle Quattro Nazioni or in Candelora.

There was a restoration of the apse in 1732, when new artworks were commissioned. However, the apse suffered a partial collapse in 1795 and it and the main altar had to be rebuilt.

After the Napoleonic occupation the property was conceded to the king of France, and hence to the French government once the republic was re-established. This paid for another restoration in 1870, when the floor was relaid.

The money was wasted, for the church was demolished in 1888 to make way for the new roads associated with the west end of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Some of its decorative stonework was moved to the courtyard of the Palazzo di San Luigi, next to the French church of San Luigi.


The church used to be on the south-west corner of the junction between Via del Banco di Santo Spirito and Vicolo dell'Oro. The latter street no longer exists. The junction was immediately to the right of the façade of the Palazzo del Banco di Santo Spirito, where there is now a bleak triangular expanse of tarmac called the Largo Ottavio Tassoni. The frontage of the white modern building on the north side of the church follows the line of the right hand (north) wall of the church, so the interior was where the motorcycles are now parked in front.


This was a small church, with a trapezoidal plan that was almost a rectangle. The line of the Via del Banco di Santo Spirito meant that the façade was at an angle to the main axis, with the left hand side wall shorter than the right hand one.

The church was part of a larger building housing the confraternity's headquarters and its pilgrim hospice. The façade was inserted into the larger frontage as a result, and was of one storey. The entrance doorway had an oversized lintel, with a line of swags between it and a raised triangular pediment. Above this was a rectangular window, and crowning the composition was a triangular pediment with a coat-of-arms in its tympanum. Either side of the window and entrance was a large recessed panel with a frame slightly less recessed; this was narrow facing the door and window, but wide facing the outer corners. The doorcase obscured part of each of these panels.

Above the main tympanum was a screen wall with a horizontal top edge, and above this in turn was the small campanile in a very odd position. It was shaped like a narrow triumphal arch with its own triangular pediment.

A photo survives from 1888, but someone had grown a creeper next to the entrance and this obscures part of the façade.

There used to be a pair of marble lions flanking the doorway, dating from the 13th or 14th centuries, and these ended up at San Luigi. If the Achille Pinelli watercolour of 1835 is accurate, they had been moved away before that year.

Inside, the ceiling bore a fresco of the Circumcision of Christ by the school of Giulio Romano and the main altar had a venerated icon of Our Lady.

External linksEdit

Italian Wikipedia page

Nolli map (look for 553)

"De Alvariis" gallery on Flickr

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