S. Maria di Betlem
Community ID
Alternate Names
S. Maria de Bettelem / Monastero delle povere donne di Morbida della Penitenza
Medieval Location
in the Croce district, in an area known as Biscinale or Bissinale
Modern Location
Ricovero di Mendicita
Date Founded
Religious Order
Cistercian (later Benedictine?)
Benedictine, then Olivetan Rule ca. 1582
Foundation Information

Beginning in 1299 there was a community of male and female "incarcerate" at S. Maria in Campis (Foligno). On March 20, 1379, 3 "perfect servants of God," Morbida di Gennaro da Montecchio, Luca di Petruccio da Collemancio, and Andrioladi Pietro da Gualdo Cattaneo from Foligno asked the abbot to give them living quarters. He settled them in a separate house where they lived for one year. In 1380, Bishop Giovanni Angelotti gave them land in Biscinale that was between the old and new walls, and was left to the church by Chiarucca d'Angelo. Here they built the first monastery.

First Members

1406: Marina di Angelo (vicar), Stefanuccia da Montefalco, Giovanna Santurini Boctis, Orsella Raynerli, and Catuzia, widow of Andrea di Ventura di Montefalco.

Notable Heads

1406, Suor Angelina da Montegiove, Abbess; 1433, Sefanuccia di Matteo di Pietro (Abbess?)

Population Counts

4 sisters + abbess in 1406; 5 in 1435; 41 in the 16th century; 124 in the 17th century

Priveleges & Papal Exemptions

Boniface IX gave the community two indulgences on March 3, 1398, and September 13, 1399. He also confirmed their change to the Benedictine order on September 25, 1400.

Dependency Of

S. Maria in Campis (male community)

Other Ecclesiastical Relations

In 1400, the year of the Jubilee, seven nuns went to Rome to see the pope with the approval of their bishop. They were turned away with the word that Boniface IX did not have time to see women. But the Pope had a dream of Virgin Mary and sent his helpers to find the seven nuns. They found them on the street of Ponte Molle and took them to the Vatican to have their audience.


Chiaruccia d'Angelo donated the orignial lands. In 1395 Marino di Pietruccio di Pietro, secular priest of Foligno, gave a chapel to the monastery.

Architecture & Archaeology

The church was built in 1396 by Mariono di Pietruccio di Pietro, in express imitation of the church of David in Bethlehem, hence the name of S. Maria di Betlem. Boniface VIII privileged it with several indulgences.

Published Primary Sources

Vite de santi e beati dell'Umbria, vol. II, pp. 400-402

Miscellaneous Information

In the 16th century, the nuns made the vestements for the priests of S. Maria in Campis.

Suzanne Wemple-Kinder
Date Started