When they were established and became widespread, in the first decades of the thirteenth century, the Mendicant Orders reinstated the complex relationship between the Church and municipal cities. This is the case of the Dominicans, who in Forlì were known to promote faith and culture, thanks also to religious and popular leading figures such as Blessed Salomoni and Blessed Marcolino. Their activities were the cornerstones to the large Convent and church, dedicated to the Apostle James – small and simple at first with a three nave hall, three aisles, and two chapels in the apse. The bell tower was already where you see it now. After the death of Blessed Salomoni a chapel dedicated to him was added, close to the northern facade of the hall. Then the church remained a perennial open construction site. At the end of the fifteenth century the hall was renewed and four aisles were added. The original three-part space was modified into one single nave. This was evidence of the ever increasing role of the Dominicans. In the same period the Convent was rebuilt as well. During the Renaissance and Baroque period the church was beautifully adorned with decorations and furniture. The interior changed in appearance but not in structure. In the eighteenth century new construction works commenced, bringing the church to its current condition. The hall was enlarged, the façade withdrawn, a wider and monumental apse was built, and the side chapels were “homogenised”. The church was then opened for worship even during Napoleon’s rule but, in 1867, with the final abolition of the Orders by the Italian State, it was closed, stripped, and turned into military stables. Thus began a period of gradual decline, culminating in the abandonment and collapse of part of the roof and the southern façade in 1978. It was only during the nineties that the Town started the gradual recovery process leading to its full restoration. Today it is part of the Museums of St. Dominique, which also hold the municipal Art Gallery and extraordinary temporary exhibits; the Complex also includes Palazzo Pasquali, the Dominican Monastery, the convent of the Augustinians, and St. Catherine’s hall.
Piazza G. da Montefeltro – Forlì
Tel. +39 0543 712606