Santi Giuseppe ed Orsola is a deconsecrated 17th and 18th century convent church at Via Vittoria 5, to the east of the Corso near Piazza di Spagna. This is in the rione Campo Marzio. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here.

The dedication was to St Joseph and St Ursula, jointly.


The convent was founded in 1684 by Camilla Orsini Borghese, a very well-connected local noblewoman, and was for a community of Ursulines running a new school for girls. The nuns followed the Augustinian rule, but were the first religious order for women allowed to work pastorally without on enclosure. Their attention to the education of girls filled a pressing need.

The church was allegedly completely rebuilt by Pietro Camporese the Elder, with the assistance of Mauro Fontana, by 1779. If so, they managed to preserve the Pozzo frescoes in the interior provided for the old church.

The complex was confiscated by the Italian government in 1873. It was leased to the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (the famous music conservatory) in 1893, and remains in its possession as a concert hall.

Many sources have repeated an old error in giving the year that the Academy took over as 1839.


The façade is framed by two gigantic Corinthian pilasters which support an entablature and a rather low triangular pediment. The doorcase is crowned by a segmental pediment, unusually protrusive, and above this is a very large lunette window that occupies the whole width between the pilasters.


The old church was a small, simple rectangular space but the new one was much more impressive.

The frescoes were of the first importance, since they were by the Andrea Pozzo who was also responsible for the ceiling fresco at Sant'Ignazio. His fresco on the ceiling vault here depicted the Martyrdom of St Ursula and Her Companions, and also noteworthy was his cycle in the chapel of St Augustine. This was to the left. The altarpiece of the high altar, depicting St Joseph, was by him but it was thought that the altarpiece of the chapel of St Ignatius Loyola to the right was by a pupil.

The stucco decoration of the interior was very rich.

External linksEdit

Italian Wikipedia page (contains errors)

Info.roma web-page

"Romeartlover" web-page

Conservatory's website

Nolli map (look for 412) -old church.

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