Sant'Anna la Misericordia

Palermo, Italy

The complex of Sant'Anna, including the church and a convent, was built in a zone formerly occupied by an unhealthy inlet, circumscribed by cliffs and filled by alluvial deposits of the Kemonia, one of the rivers of the ancient and medieval Palermo. In the period of the Sicilian Vespers the area housed the residence of Joanne De Saint Remy, collaborator of Charles of Anjou.

In the 16th century a chapel dedicated to Our Lady Of Pity is recorded in the so-called “Contrada della Misericordia”. In this chapel Tommaso de Vigilia painted a fresco of the Pietà. Over time the popular devotion to this icon increased. In 1596 a structure located near the chapel and used as granary was converted into a place of worship. The fresco was hung in this new temple. In 1597 the convent was built.

Since the church proved to be small for the liturgical needs, the authorities of Palermo decided to enlarge the building thanks to the help of noble families and ordinary believers. The architectural project was made by the senatorial architect Mariano Smiriglio. On 26 October 1606 the groundbreaking was launched. The church was completed in 1632 and consecrated on 13 November 1639 by the bishop of Agrigento Francesco Traina. The temple was dedicated to Saint Anne, mother of Mary, becoming known as Sant'Anna la Misericordia.

In 1726 the earthquake of Terrasini caused the façade collapse. The current façade was designed by Giovanni Biagio Amico in accordance with the conventions of the Roman Baroque. Over the centuries the church was damaged on several occasions by earthquakes.

After the unification of Italy the church and the convent were confiscated by the state. For several years the complex was used as granary. In 1925 the church and a portion of the convent returned into the possession of the friars.

Today the convent houses a museum of modern art, the Galleria d'Arte Moderna Sant'Anna.



Your name


Founded: 1606-1632
Category: Religious sites in Italy


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

ELENH MYGIAKI (2 years ago)
Gary J. Kirkpatrick (2 years ago)
Lesser church but some fine ceiling and altar area painting and decoration
4AM RO (3 years ago)
Old Street feeling, disappointing building around this monument, no improvement around this site
Metin Esgin (4 years ago)
VEry cute square in front
DAVID SNYDER (4 years ago)
Outstanding Baroque facade.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Les Invalides

Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.

Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.

Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.

Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.

The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.