Key to Umbria: Orvieto

San Giacomo Maggiore (1835)

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A hospice for poor people and pilgrims was established here in 1187.  It became known as the Ospedale di Santa Maria Episcopatus and subsequently as the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Stella.  This site (which extends behind the arches to the right of the church) developed to become the civic hospital.  Pope Clement IV gave permission for the erection of a chapel and cemetery here in 1266. 

In 1288, Pope Nicholas IV associated the brothers who administered the complex with the Cavalieri di San Giacomo di Altopascio, an ancient hospitaller order headquartered at  Altopascio near Lucca in order to care for pilgrims taking Via Francigena to Rome.  This development must have been related to the promotion of Orvieto as another pilgrimage point on the route, following the establishment of the cult of the Sacro Corporale.  He issued further concessions in 1291 to what was then the Cappella di San Giacomo Maggiore, which included permission to erect a bell tower.

The Confraternita dei Scalzi, which had been founded in 1615, used this church until ca. 1651, when it moved to the Chiesa dei Scalzi.

The chapel seems to have become dilapidated by 1790 and was rebuilt in its present form in 1830-5.  The hospital was rebuilt to a plan by Paolo Zampi in 1892-1910.  It closed in 2000, when the new Ospedale di Santa  Maria della Stella opened at nearby Ciconia. 

The complex now belongs to the Centro Studi Città di Orvieto.

Return to Monuments of Orvieto.

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