Santa Maria della Pietà in Camposanto Teutonico
Click on any photo to see a larger version
Our Lady of Mercy in the German Cemetery. The church is located to the left of the Vatican basilica, in a complex, surrounded by a high wall, which includes the church, the German cemetery (Camposanto Teutonico), a college (Schola Francorum), a hospice for German-speaking pilgrims which was the oldest German institution in Rome.
In 799 a Schola Francorum was spoken of for the first time. For this reason, on the wall of the building there is a ceramic depiction of Charlemagne as the founder.
The cemetery and the church were in bad shape at the time of the 1450 Holy Year, but both were soon rebuilt. In 1454 the German members of the Curia under Pope Nicholas V, gathered together as a confraternity which still exists today in a different form and is owner of the foundation. In the last quarter of the 15th century the current structure of the church was built according to a style widely used in Germany at the time. In 1597 the confraternity was promoted to the “Archconfraternity of Our Lady” at the German Cemetery next to St. Peter’s. In 1876 a residence was built for priests studying Christian archaeology, church history and other similar fields. In 1888 the Roman Institute of the Goerres Society took up residence there with a library of around 35,000 books.
During World War II, it was damaged by a bomb. The bomb was dropped by an Italian plane painted with German identification marks, as part of a scheme the fascists had cooked up. It was intended for San Pietro in Vaticano, but for some reason - either an error made by the bombardier or reluctance to bomb the world's greatest cathedral - it hit this church in the shadow of the basilica instead. The church has since been reconstructed. Further restoration was carried out in 1972, when it was largely returned to its original form.