Rectory Church of San Michele Arcangelo Pious Schools

Via Giovanni Tarantini 37a, 72100 Brindisi BR

In 1659 Brindisi’s archbishop, Francesco de Estrada, bought both the Saint Michael the Archangel church and the adjacent dormitory consisting of four cells, owned by the Celestines of Mesagne. The Celestines had acquired the dormitory in 1616 when their home in Brindisi was closed to let the Piarist Fathers settle there. The first aim was to try to fill, at least among the locals, the gaps in public education, which in the seventeenth century appeared almost completely non-existent. In fact, the information on education in Brindisi at the time refers only to a vague piece of news reporting how a certain master Antonio Diana had taught humanities in the 16th century. When the Pious Schools opened, there were only three classes, but soon they enrolled two hundred students. The architectural complex was enlarged thanks to various donations from the Portuguese Giovanni Nunnes della Torre (1680), the port manager for the royal family, and Girolamo Lettera (1684). Like it happened for most of the ecclesiastical institutions, on 13 February 1807, following the Napoleonic suppressions, the convent was abandoned, thus becoming the property of the municipal administration of Brindisi. In 1873 it was first used as a prison and then as a school. From 1875 it housed the conscription council. During the twentieth century, it first became an orphanage (1912) and then from 1923 it was used as the headquarters of the White Cross and the Campestri Guards. The church of Saint Michael Archangel is known for its characteristic polychrome tiled dome, that can be admired by several points of the city centre. The sober facade has a central portal surmounted by a triangular tympanum which displays the coat of arms of the order of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools. Inside, the single nave ends in a transept. There are side chapels, that have been deprived of altars and sacred furnishings. The baroque-style decorations are by the master plasterer Maurizio D'Alessio, from Naples, who starting from 1718 and for the following three years worked on the chapel of the high altar, dedicated to Saint Michael Archangel, on the dome, on the side chapels, on the columns and on both the internal and external arches.

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