Santa Croce delle Scalette Church Rome

The Santa Croce delle Scalette Church is not to be confused with the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Scala, which is also located in the Trastevere district in Rome. It can be found on the corner of the Via della Lungara and the Via della Penitenza. The church gets its name from the two staircases leading to, respectively, the church itself and the annexed convent.

Santa Croce delle Scalette Church Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via della Lungara, 19 – Rome. Opening hours and admission: At the moment the church is closed because of restoration works. The official English name is Holy Cross of the Little Staircase.

History and description

Santa Croce delle Scalette Church Rome
Santa Croce delle Scalette

The convent was founded in 1615 by Padre Domenico di Gesù e Maria, with financial help of Baldassare Peruzzi Albertoni. Its aim was to help women who had ended up having to prostitute themselves return to a normal life. As a result the church, which was built with money donated by a.o. the Duca di Baviera (Count of Bavaria) a little later, in 1619, was also called Santa Croce della Penitenza.

The person behind its construction was Cardinal Antonio Barberini.

If this hasn’t created enough confusion yet, the church is also known as Santa Croce alla Lungara and when, in 1839, both the church and the convent were given to the Congregazione delle Suore di Nostra Signora della Carità del Buon Pastore, both became Del Buon Pastore. Above the entrance there is an image of this Good Shepherd.

From then onward the convent became a haven for poor children and for former prisoners. Pope Pius IX had a new wing constructed, so that the different kinds of inhabitants lived separate lives. This wing was built by the architect Virginio Vespignani and the entrance was along the Via della Penitenza.

In 1950 the Institute was changed into a prison for women who had committed petty crimes. From 1970 onward it became a help center, first for young people and later for the elderly. At the moment it is the seat of the Cassa Internazionale delle Donne. The church itself has been closed since 1924.


The facade consists of two levels that are separated by a cornice. There are niches on each side of the entrance. The upper part of the facade has a central window. There are two pilasters on the corners of the church and two more flanking the portal and window. The top part is characterized by a triangular tympanum.

The interior consists of a single nave.

Via della Lungara, 19 – Rome

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