One of the most beautiful and rich in art churches in Bologna, it does not have the importance it deserves, given that it is inserted in the cemetery area of the Certosa, and often ends up being considered almost like an appendix of the cemetery. This is the church of San Girolamo della Certosa, named after the priest and doctor of the Church who lived between 347 and 420 after Christ and author of the Vulgate in Latin of the Bible.
The whole complex on which the church and the cemetery stand spread over an area that already in the 5th century BC was used for the cult of the dead in the ancient Etruscan Felsina, as was noted by the archaeological excavations carried out between 1869 and 1871 by the Bolognese archaeologist Antonio Zannoni, who brought to light a vast and important necropolis.
The foundation of the church dedicated to San Girolamo dates back to the early fourteenth century by the Carthusian monks, who had just settled in Bologna. The Carthusian order was born in France in 1084 as a synthesis of the faith applied to life in isolated and solitary communities, and takes its name from the valley of Chartreuse, the seat of their first community.
Not much remains of the medieval decorations of the church, which are however listed in part in the Monumenta Cronologica Cartusiae Bononiensis manuscript, preserved in the State Archive of Bologna.
The interiors and furnishings of the Certosa were plundered or destroyed by the Lanzichenecchi of Charles V of Habsburg in 1527, when the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire sent them to Italy against Pope Clement VII, who supported Francis I of France in the war of claiming to imperial throne. The pope himself then suffered a searing military defeat which he carried to the sack of Rome, again in 1527.
For this reason too much of the art preserved in the church of San Girolamo is later than this date, starting from the beautiful wooden choir of 1538 reconstructed using probably the cartoons of the previous realization dating back to 1488 by Melchiorre Provenzale.
From the end of the sixteenth century, under the impetus of the prior Giovanni Battista Capponi, who led the convent until 1622, he began a profound decorative renewal inside the building, starting from the construction of the chapels of San Girolamo and San Giovanni Battista poste at the sides of the entrance.
One of the architects of this artistic renewal was the Bolognese painter Bartolomeo Cesi (1556-1629) with the decoration of the main chapel, with the three altarpieces dedicated to the Passion of Christ and with the fresco in the new guesthouse depicting the Madonna and Child, San Giovanni , St. Jerome and St. Bruno: the founder of the Carthusian Order
The decoration with Biblical Stories frescoed in the apse area is also the work of Bartolomeo Cesi.
From this period and then until the Napoleonic suppression at the end of the eighteenth century, the Carthusian monks continued to enrich their church with works by great artists such as Agostino and Ludovico Carracci, Guercino, Giovanni Andrea Sirani and his daughter Elisabetta Sirani, and other school teachers meat sauce.
The Napoleonic suppressions have led many of these works of art to suffer vicissitudes and even travels to France, but which in the end however have largely relocated them to the territory, hosted at the Pinacoteca and also at Palazzo D’Accursio.
The Carthusian and chocolate.
The Carthusian monks are also credited with the invention of the Bolognese Christmas cake, the Carthusian, also called Pan Speziale, but not for the spicy taste but for being a Pan Speciale.
The origin of the Carthusian in Bologna is directly linked to the arrival of the friars around 1330, but the presence of chocolate in the dessert suggests that the original must have been very different from the one we are currently enjoying, given that cocoa arrived in Europe only in the first half of the sixteenth century from America and even for almost a century it was considered a medicine and then became a delight for nobles and rich. Only in the middle of the 800 did chocolate become a dessert within reach of all pockets.