Key to Umbria: Assisi

Nunneries in Assisi

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The following nunneries and their churches have separate pages: 
Santa Caterina; 
Santa Chiara; 
San Damiano; 
San Giacomo;
San Giuseppe; and 
San Quirico.
The other nunneries of which traces survive in Assisi are described below.
Sant' Andrea (13th century) 
The church here was first documented in 1231, when it belonged to the nearby San Giacomo di Murorupto.  It passed to the Abbazia di San Pietro in 1316, and to a female community of Franciscan Tertiaries from the Monastero delle Lucrezie, Todi in the late 15th century.  It now belongs to the Suore Francescane Misionarie di Gesù Bambino. 
A damaged fresco (16th century) of the Madonna and Child is in a shrine above the entrance to the convent.
The church is inside the walled convent.  [Visits possible?].  
Frescoes (ca. 1500)
These poorly preserved frescoes, which are attributed to Andrea d' Assisi, l' Ingegno, came from the nunnery and now in the Pinacoteca Comunale.   They depict: 
St Jerome; 
the Madonna and Child; and 
St Catherine of Alexandria. 
Sant' Angelo in Panzo (1270) 
The first surviving reference to a church of Sant’ Angelo at Panzo on Mount Subiaso dates to 1211, when St Clare moved here from Sant’ Apollinare (which subsequently moved within the city walls and later became San Giuseppe).  St Clare's sister, St Agnes joined her after a few days, much to the irritation of their family, before their final move to San Damiano.   The church was documented again in 1217 as dependent upon San Rufino.  The nunnery, which probably belonged to a community of penitents, was first documented in 1232.
Pope Gregory IX assigned the new Rule of San Damiano to the community at Panzo in 1239, and took it under papal protection.  It moved to its present location just inside the city walls in 1270.    Pope Martin V approved the merger of San Nicolò dell’ Orto (see below) and Sant’ Angelo in Panzo in 1425; the few nuns still living at San Nicolò duly moved to this site inside the city.  
A group of Cistercian nuns from Santa Giustina, Perugia took refuge in Sant’ Angelo in Panzo in 1462 when Perugia was swept by cholera.  There were only a few nuns at the nunnery at Assisi, and Pope Paul II merged the communities and imposed on it the Cistercian Rule.  However, the nuns of Santa Chiara soon pointed out that the Cistercians had returned to Perugia, and Pope Sixtus IV united Santa Angelo in Panzo and Santa Chiara in 1476. 
Part of a wall from the ex-nunnery (illustrated above) survives, and other architectural fragments are embedded in that of the Seminario Vescovile to the left. 

The ex-church and nunnery at Panzo passed to Galeazzo Filippo Pomponio Bonacquisti, Count of Panzo in the 16th century, and  the Bonacquisti family restored the church in 1604.  The complex passed to the Aluigi family in the 18th century and to the Brunelli family in 1933.  It is possible to visit the church and to see the spring that still provides water for Assisi (see “ Around Assisi”). 
Monastero della Benedetta (15th century) 
The monastery, which is usually named for its founder, Benedetta dei Fiumi, was originally dedicated to St Elizabeth of Hungary.  The existence of a community of female tertiaries living here under the Benedictine Rule was first documented in 1453, when it took in some of the nuns from the suppressed Monastero di San Paolo (see San Giuseppe).  The nuns acquired a number of buildings in Via delle Rose, including the ex-Palazzo Consulare (at number 2c), which the Consuls had vacated in 1215.
Towards the end of the 15th century, the establishment changed its name to the Monastero della Santissima Concezione, when Benedetta left money in her will for the construction of a chapel with this dedication.  
The Benedictine nuns from Sant’ Apollinare (later San Giuseppe) bought the complex in 1881, having been forced to leave their previous monastery in 1866.  
Santa Colette (1909-26) 
The convent is named for St Colette Boilet (1381 - 1447), the author of the so-called Colettine reform of the Poor Clares, under which a number of convents in France, Germany and the Low Countries returned to the original rule of St Clare (1253).  St Colette was canonised in 1807.
The movement had almost no impact in Italy until the early 20th century, when Abbess Marie Alexis and a small group of nuns from Paray-le-Monial travelled to Rome to escape a difficult political situation in France.  After a number of further difficulties, the small community settled in what was originally an olive grove on this site. 
The church was built in 1909 - 11.  Further construction was hampered by the First World War: the construction of most of the convent was carried out in 1922 - 6.
Santa Croce 
Original Nunnery (14th century) 
The “Monasterio Sancte Crucis de Ponte Gallorum" was first documented in 1316, when it stood beside the Ponte dei Galli, outside Porta San Giacomo.  The nuns moved to a site inside the walls before 1382.  Their nunnery was suppression in 1810.  
This fresco (1643) on the altar wall of SS Helen and Catherine of Alexandria kneeling at the foot of a cross is [dated by inscription and] attributed to Girolamo Marinelli. 
Since my last visit, the church has been opened for Mass on Saturdays at 6pm.
Present Nunnery (1901) 
The complex passed to a community of German Capuchin sisters in 1878: they rebuilt the convent and built the neo-Gothic church. 

Santa Maria degli Episcopi (15th century) 
Original Nunnery (13th century) 
The first church of Santa Maria degli Episcopi (now the cemetery church of Assisi, outside Porta San Giacomo) was first documented in 1291, when it belonged to a community of Benedictine nuns. 

Present Nunnery (15th century) 
This community moved to this site in Via San Francesco in 1401.  The nunnery was suppressed in 1804 and the complex re-opened in 1814: 
part of the original complex, including its chapel, now belongs to the Suore Francescane Missionarie di Assisi (at number 13); and 
the rest became the Ospedale della Misericordia (at number 13A).  The architect Alfonso Brizi restructured this hospital in 1883 and it was adapted for residential use in 1989.    

San Nicolò dell’ Orto (14th century ?) 
This nunnery outside Assisi was first documented in 1342, when it belonged to a community of Poor Clares.   Pope Boniface IX authorised the merger of this community with that of San Sebastiano, Cannara in 1397, but this seems not to have actually taken place.  
It is clear from the associated documentation that San Nicolò was well-provided but that few nuns wanted to live here, presumably because of the insecure location.  In 1425, Pope Martin V approved the merger of San Nicolò and Sant’ Angelo in Panzo inside the walls of Assisi (see above).