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Austria - Santa Maria dell'Anima


According to tradition, the church takes its name from the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary displayed between two souls which appears on its coat of arms.

It was founded in 1350 thanks to the financial support of Johannes and Katharina Peters from Dordrecht who bought three houses on the site and turned them into a private hospice to welcome pilgrims during the Jubilee of that year.  The façade of the church, designed by Andrea Sansovino, was built in Italian Renaissance style and completed by Giuliano da Sangallo.

Later, on May 21 1406, Pope Innocent VII, with the Bull Piae Postulatio declared the hospice exempt from all other jurisdictions other than Papal jurisdiction and took it under his personal protection.

The church quickly became a focal point for German-speaking pilgrims to Rome, largely due to its close links with the Hapsburg family from Austria, whose symbol of the two headed eagle is widely used in the decorative scheme.