The Baroque Church of Corpus Domini tucked away in a side street (Via Tagliapietre, just to the right of Via d’Azeglio when heading towards Porta d’Azeglio) five minutes from Piazza Maggiore is not one of the grandest or most famous of the churches in the city centre but it has a quiet charm of its own, with the Baroque interior concealed behind a fifteenth-century façade of rough brickwork above an ornate terracotta portal. The church was badly damaged by bombing in September 1943 and this accounts for the fact that half of the vaulted roof is frescoed and the other half just plastered. A side chapel to the right houses the tomb of Luigi Galvani, the eighteenth-century physicist who carried out pioneering work in the study of electricity, and gave us the English verb “galvanise”. To the left, a highly ornate chapel (dating back to 1680) houses the remains of Santa Caterina da Bologna, who founded the adjacent Convent of the Poor Clares before her demise in 1463. This is a place of pilgrimage and prayer: I almost felt like I was in Spain rather than Italy. This chapel is approached through a vestibule and is open only on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, from 9.30 to 11.30, and 16.00 to 17.45. This chapel has an other-worldly character, and it is an extraordinary experience, as you contemplate the remains of the Saint, who is presented not in a supine but in a seated position, through a glass darkly.
St Catherine of Bologna
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