Saint Ignatius established Casa Santa Marta (1543-44) as a church and residence for penitent prostitutes. Prostitution was a significant service industry in Rome and was more or less accepted in the fifteenth century, but the advent of syphilis and the changing moral tenor led to sixteenth-century reform movements. (In 1520 the Oratorio del Divino Amore had established a convent for former prostitutes, based on the earlier monastic model emphasizing a strict life of penance.) Santa Marta aimed at rehabilitation of former prostitutes and their reintegration into ordinary social life. In a sense, it was similar to what we now call "half-way houses." Among the 170 founding members of the confraternity that administered the work were 15 cardinals, seven bishops, and several ambassadors to the papal court. Leaving financial and material matters to the lay people, Ignatius provided spiritual direction. (from www.sjweb.info)
The facade of Chiesa Santa Marta.
The baroque ceiling of the nave.
Casa Santa Marta is now used by Il Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali, the Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Assets. The church building is de-consecrated and used as a meeting and exhibition space.
The former sacristy of the church.