With its severe façade, this church is the greatest example of seventeenth century architecture in Pistoia.
Originally named for Saint Ignatius, the Church of Santo Spirito wasn't consecrated to the Holy Spirit until the second half of the eighteenth century.
The Company of the Jesuits built the church from the plan by Father Tommaso Ramignani whose activity in Pistoia involved other important buildings as well. With its one nave and side chapels that are connected with each other, the Pistoian Jesuit church closely follows the model of the great Jesuit temple in Rome designed almost a century earlier by Jacopo Vignola.
In order to build and furnish this important construction - certainly the most important in Pistoia after the sixteenth century basilica of the Madonna dell'Umiltà - some of the major noble families of the city gave great sums of money.
Most of the works in Baroque style that still characterize the church today are the result of patronage by the Rospigliosi family who, in the same years, had become owners of the palazzo in nearby via del Duca and whose member Cardinal Giulio Rospigliosi, had been elected Pope.
As soon as Giulio became Pope, he entrusted the commission for the high altar to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, one of the most famous exponents of the Roman Baroque style. To crown this achievement and in complete harmony with it, the Pope gave another commission, this time to Pietro da Cortona, another illustrious representative of the Baroque, to do the great canvas depicting The Apparition of Christ to Saint Ignatius. This was one of the subjects that the Jesuits held most dear because it honored the founder of their Order.
The Pope's modem taste is clearly seen in Cortona's painting as well as in the canvas of The Virgin and Christ in Glory with Saints Liborio, Dominic, Lucy and other Saint, that Ludovico Gimignani, painted for the Rospigliosi family chapel.
Among the precious artworks the most notable are: the Deposed Christ With Saints that Dandini painted for the Banchieri family chapel, the seventeenth century organ by Master W. Hermans, located in front of another organ which has a purely decorative function; and, over the doorway, the marble plaque commemorating the large contribution that the Rospigliosi family made to the construction of the church.
A recent restoration, made necessary by the building's state of bad repair, has reopened the church for worship and for the general appreciation of this fineo example of the city's artistic heritage.
Piazza dello Spirito Santo - Pistoia
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Tel: +39 057321522
Comune di Pistoia