|HOSPITAL OF ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY AND
THE CHURCH OF SANTA CATERINA DELLA ROTA
Whan the forseyd creatur was comyn into Rome, and thei that weryn hir felaws beforntyme and put hir owt of her cumpany weryn in Rome also and herd tellyn of swech a woman was come thedyr, thei had gret wondir how sche cam ther in safté. And than sche went and ordeynd hir white clothys and was clad al in white liche as sche was comawndyd for to do yerys beforn in hir sowle be revelacyon, and now it was fulfilt in effect. Than was this creatur receyved into the hospital of Seynt Thomas of Cawntyrbery in Rome and ther was sche howselyd every Sonday wyth gret wepyng, boistows sobbyng, and lowde crying and was hyly belovyd wyth the maystyr of the hospital and wyth alle hys brethyr (lines 1849-58).The Hospital of Saint Thomas of Canterbury was established in 1362, most likely as a result of the increased number of English pilgrims to Rome for the Jubilee of 1350. George Parks, The English Traveler to Italy, The Middle Ages (to 1525), Rome, 1954, 358-9. Parks provides a thorough account of the establishment of the Hospital, and the physical location of the English community in Rome, as well as accounting for the numbers of pilgrims from England who went to Italy in regular years, and during the Jubilees of 1300, 1350, 1390, 1423, and 1450.
There is evidence for the existence of this hospital, which ministered to English pilgrims, as early as the end of the 7th century. In the later half of the 14th century (c. 1362) St. Thomas of Canterbury was joined with the neighboring church, the Most Holy Trinity of the Scots, listed among the twenty principal churches of Rome. In 1575, under the papacy of Gregory the XIII, the hospital was converted into an ecclesiastical college entrusted to the Jesuit Order. The church was rebuilt and dedicated to both the Trinity and St. Thomas of Canterbury by the Cardinal of Norfolk. The interior walls of the church were said to by painted by Nicolo Cerciniano of Pomarancie with scenes of martyrs of the Great English Persecution, following the schism under King Henry VIII. In 1616 a description of the church found in Stato temporale states that the church had a bell tower with three bells and a clock. There were five altars, two public sepulchers, a library, a garden. It also owned several homes and even a vineyard outside the gate of St. Sebastian.
The hospital is located on Via Monserrato, at the top of the Piazzetta di Santa Caterina della Rota, and near the Campo dei Fiori. The English community appears to have settled in this area in the 13th century (Margaret Harvey, The English in Rome, 1362-1420: Portrait of an Expatriate Community, Cambridge, 1999). The Collegio Inglese was founded by Gregory XII, within the complex is a church dedicated to St. Thomas, and the hospital. Originally constructed in the 8th century, the church was rebuilt in 1575, again in 1685 and again in 1866. The articulation of the facade remains medieval in appearance, including the arcades and portal detailing.
Down the street from St. Thomas of Canterbury, at Via Monserrato #111-112, there is a four-story palace that might have existed in Kempe’s day. It retains the look of a late 14th century structure, complete with arcaded or collonaded loggie on the upper levels. (For a comparison to what it likely a contemporary palace, see Palazzo Davanzati in Florence). It may give the contemporary viewer an idea of the private luxury residence of the kind presumably inhabited by Dame Margaret Florentine, who patronized Margery Kempe.
ROHST1: Facade of the Hospital of St. Thomas of CanterburyWhen she is forced to leave the Hospital of St. Thomas of Canterbury (chapter 32), she sends Richard “of the hunched back” to the near-by church: And sithyn sche clepyd onto hir the forseyd Richard wyth the broke bak, preyng hym to go ovyr to a cherch agen the hospital and enformyn the person of the chyrche of hir maner of governawnce, and what sorwe sche had (lines 1867-70). ” The priest of the church agrees to hear her partial confession and give her communion.
The church she is refering to here is the
Church of Santa Caterina della Ruota.
Santa Caterina della Ruota was renovated in the 16th century, and again in 1730. Nothing remains of the medieval structure except the ground plan. This plan consists of a single nave, with three niches containing side altars, on each side; and a choir with three apses (resembling a trifoliate shape). The present building dates from 16th century, with later modifications. On the exterior, the lateral facades may not have been completely altered in later centuries. There is a door frame on the Via in Caterina della Rota side which may be part of the older structure. It contains an inscription above the door that reads: INTRDI E PORTAS EIVS IN EXVLTATIONE.
ROSCR1: Facade of Church of Santa Caterina della RuotaLater Kempe is welcomes back to lodge in the Hospital of St. Thomas
Whan the maystyr and brothyr of the hospital of Seynt Thomas, wher sche was refusyd befortyme, as is wretyn beforn, herd tellyn what lofe and what favowr sche had in the cyté, they preyd hir that sche wolde come ageyn to hem, and sche schulde be wolcomear than evyr sche was beforn, for thei weryn ryth sory that thei had put hir awey fro hem. And sche thankyd hem for her charité and dede her comawndment. And, whan sche was comyn agen to hem, thei madyn hir ryth good cher and weryn rith glad of hir comyng. Than fond sche ther hir that was hir mayden befortyme, and wyth ryght schulde a be so stylle, dwellyng in the hospital in meche welth and prosperyté, for sche was kepar of her wyn (lines 2210-18).