San Salvatore and Giulia
Community ID
Alternate Names
Saint Salvator and Julia
Date Founded
Date Terminated
Religious Order
Foundation Information

The monastery was founded by Longobard Duke Desiderio and his wife Ansa in 753 on property donated by King Astolfo. In 757 Desiderio was elected king, and the monastery acted as the center of power in Brescia from which Desiderio's son Duke Adelchi could control the city.

Notable Heads

Desiderio selected his daughter Anselperga as the first abbess.

In 916, Berta, daughter of the emperor Berengario I, held the position of abbess.

Notable Members/Residents/Guests

For centuries after its foundation, the monastery's members were comprised of the daughters of Longobard and Franc aristocratic families.

Priveleges & Papal Exemptions

In 762, Pope Paul Paulo I granted the monastery total independence from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Brescia. This was confirmed in successive years, allowing the convent to remain independent throughout much of its history.

Incorporated By

On July 28, 1478, the monastery was integrated into the Cassinense Congregation at the command of the bull of Sisto V. On May 17, 1481, the monastery was entrusted to the spiritual direction of the Congregation of St. Justine of Padua. Elena, abbess at the time of integration, opposed the move.

Dependent Communities
Secular Political Affiliations

In 760, once Desiderio was king, San Salvatore was placed under royal protection and subtracted from the jurisdiction of the bishop. This was confirmed by a privilege from Pope Paul Paulo I (see above). The church acted as a mausoleum and became a symbol of dynastic power.


The eighth-century monastery possessed significant property holdings, including real estate in Brescia and property through the peninsula as far as the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, and two mills located outside the Porta Bruciata. The archbishop Michele of Ravenna donated luxurious furnishings in 772. By the eleventh century, it had possession of 61 courts spread throughout northern Italy.

In the eleventh century, the monastery's property shrank because of the dissolution of Carolingian power, but the convent still owned important city property including the mills mentioned above. In the twelfth century, the monastery divided this land into lots and leased it to vassals and butchers.

Architecture & Archaeology

The area in which the monastery was founded had been occupied since Roman times. By the fifth and sixth centuries, the Roman buildings had fallen into ruin and small houses were build into the ruins. A church with one nave, an transept, and three apses was constructed in the seventh century, over which the eighth century basilica of San Salvatore would be built.

The monastery was first constructed in the 700s, and then significantly remodeled and extended in the 1100s and 1200s. This included the construction of work rooms, guest rooms, administrative rooms, the public church of San Daniele, and the votive chapel of Santa Maria in Solario. The monastery was remodeled and expanded again in the fifteenth century after it had been incorporated into the Congregation of St. Justine. The basilica of San Salvatore was remodeled at the end of the 1500s.

The monastery remained in use until 1805. In 1812, the complex was converted to a military blockade. The lands were then sold at auction and the materials dispersed. In 1879 it was finalized that the monastery be transformed into a museum.

Architectural fragments from the eighth and ninth century still survive, such as Pluteus with gem encrusted cross, Pluteus with gem encrusted cross, Bust, and Bust.

State Of Medieval Structure

Remains of the Lombardic monastery are still standing today.

The basilica of San Salvatore, a late medieval structure, is still standing and can be visited today. The monastery is now a museum, and the visitor can still see many of the medieval and renaissance wall paintings as well as medieval artifacts from across northern Italy. Medieval artifacts housed at the museum but not associated with the monastery of San Salvatore and Giulia include Early Christian Sarcophagus Fragment, Early Christian Sarcophagus Fragment, and Early Christian Sarcophagus Fragment, detail.


In 763 the relics of Saints Julia, Sofia, Pistis, Elpis, Agagpe, Ippolito, and Pimenio were brought to Brescia from Gorgona.

Manuscript Sources

Ms. H.VI.II gives instructions regarding the monastery's functions and rites practiced throughout the liturgical year, including processional routes and roles assigned to nuns and priests during religious services.