The Church of Santa Maria della Vita was founded in the second half of the 13th century by the Congregation of Battuti or Flagellati, whose name refers to their habit to whip themselves. The Congregation is one of the first to be born in Italy on the basis of the Organization of the Disciplinati, founded in Perugia in 1260 by Raniero Fasani. The members of the Congregation mainly devoted themselves to charitable activities, thus having a hospital unit and a church built in 1287 (Santa Maria della Vita).
The church was enlarged between 1454 and 1502 and rebuilt at the end of the 17th century by the architect G. B. Bergonzoni after the collapse of the ceiling in 1686. The dome was designed by Giuseppe Tubertini and built in 1787. The inside of the building features an elliptic plant and an elegant and airy style, where the famous Compianto del Cristo Morto (Lamentation over the Dead Christ), one of the masterpieces of the Italian sculpture, can be seen: it was modelled by Niccolò dell'Arca in the second half of the 15th century. On the high altar there is a fresco dating back to the second half of the 14th century that prortays “Madonna della Vita”.
(Source: Curia Arcivescovile and Le Chiese di Bologna (L'Inchiostroblu))
Santa Maria della Vita has been managed by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Bologna since 2006 and at present is part of the cultural, artistic and museum itinerary Genus Bononiae. Musei nella Città.