Certosa of Ferrara

Certosa of Ferrara

San Cristoforo alla Certosa also called the Certosa di Ferrara is a Renaissance style, former Roman Catholic, Carthusian order church and cloistered monastery, now cemetery site, located on Piazza Borso 50 in Ferrara, Region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy.


The Certosa with the cemetery. Photo by Paolo Monti, 1970.

In 1452, the Duke Borso d'Este patronized the construction of a Charterhouse or Certosa in Ferrara. As was usual for the eremitic, cloistered institutions, it was erected outside the city walls, but with construction of new walls, with the Addizione Erculea, it was enclosed in the city.

In 1498, a new church was built and dedicated to San Cristoforo, and it soon was enveloped by the cloistered monastery. The layout is that of a Latin cross with six lateral chapels. The project is attributed to Biagio Rossetti. The facade, remaining incomplete, was decorated in 1769 with a marble portal sculpted by Pietro Puttini, and angels by Francesco Zoppi, with designs by Gaetano Barbieri.[1] The lateral altars were decorated by Nicolò Roselli, and held an altarpiece (1570) by Bastianino.

In the late 1700s, after the Napoleonic suppression, the monastery and church were closed and became property of the city. The church was reconsecrated in 1813.[2] The adjacent grounds, like those of the Certosa of Bologna, were converted to a main public cemetery (Cimitero Cittadino) by architect Ferdinando Canonici, razing the old church and part of the cloister. The grounds contain a Jewish cemetery. The Cemetery also has a memorial statue to Leopoldo Cicognara by Antonio Canova.[3]

Aerial bombing in 1944, during the Second World War, damaged the apse, choir, bell tower and right flank of the church. The restorations were still incomplete, when the 2012 earthquake further damaged the foundations, limiting it use.[4]

Inventory of Certosa in 1770

The Napoleonic suppression of the monastery led to the dispersal of the works of movable art in the church and monastery. An inventory in 1770 lists the following:

The twelve chapels had canvases depicting the Passion of Christ by Roselli. The altar on the right of the crossing had a canvas with The Last Judgement with Sibyls by Sebastiano Filippi. This side of the crossing also had a St Jerome, copy of a work by Agostino Caracci for the Certosa of Bologna, copied by Francesco Naselli; a Blessed Niccolo Albergati, by an unknown Carthusian monk painter; and a St Bruno at Prayer in Squillace met by Roger I of Sicily by Ippolito Scarsellino. In the arches of the main chapel were two canvases depicting Carthusian Beati Stefano Macconi and Pietro Petroni (Blessed Monks) by Bononi.[5]

The main altar tabernacle had paintings by Agostino Caracci. On the Baldacchino was a canvas by Francesco Ferrari. To the statuary of the main altar were works contributed by Pierro Turchi. The lateral canvases depicted the Virgin pleads with San Bruno and colleagues to return to the Hermitage and San Bruno before Roger I of Sicily by Giuseppe Avanzi. In the center, in the facade of the partition that separates the monk's choir, was a depiction of St Christopher by Sebastiano Filippi. Fillipi also painted a canvas next to the presbytery, depicting the Ascension of Christ. In the counter-facade were two holy bishops by Maurelio Scanavini.[6]

The oratory next to the Presbytery had a St Bruno and fellow monks at Prayer and the Refectory had a Marriage at Cana (1622) by Bononi. The Prior's chapel had a Madonna and Child and St Bruno by the school of Guercino.

Other works in the monastery included paintings by the following:


  1. Barotti, page 83.
  2. Arte Cultura Ferrara, website, entry on church.
  3. Guida del pellegrino in terra ferrarese, Page 107.
  4. Arte Cultura Ferrara, website, entry on church.
  5. Pitture e Scolture che si trovano nelle Chiese della Citta di Ferrara, By Cesare Barotti, Appresso Giuseppe Rinaldi, Ferrara, 1770, page 81.
  6. Barotti, page 82.
  7. Barotti, pages 83 and 85.
  8. Barotti, page 84.
  9. Barotti, pages 83 and 85.
  10. Barotti, page 84-85.
  11. Barotti, page 85.
  12. Barotti, page 85.
  13. Barotti, pages 83,84 and 85.
  14. Barotti, page 83.
  15. Barotti, page 84.
  16. Barotti, page 85.

Coordinates: 44°50′43″N 11°37′36″E / 44.8454°N 11.6268°E / 44.8454; 11.6268

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