The building is located in a picturesque little square, in the real centre of Bologna, next to an area once used as a jail and now hosting the Department of History of the University of Bologna.
The history of this church, like that of the nearby Complesso di Santo Stefano, makes reference to the symbology of the holy places in Jerusalem. The rounded church of the 5th century used to host a Congregation of the Canons Regular of the Lateran, it was restored in 1200 and given a gothic style around the second half of the 15th century. The elegant façade recalls the style of Veneto and Ferrara (1474); at its entrance there is a vigorous Eagle, the emblem of the Evangelist John, moulded by Nicolò dell'Arca (c. 1481). The inside building has three naves, valuable glass walls (15th century), precious alterpieces dating back to the 14th and 18th century, the 16th century choir and a peculiar column with an overturned capital, at the bottom of which there is a romanesque cross belonging to the ancient chapel of San Petronio (the wooded Christ dates back to the 16th century). In the past the church housed some paintings by Ercole de' Roberti, Domenichino, Cima from Conegliano, Perugino, along with a copy of the famous Estasi di Santa Cecilia by Raffaello, whose original copy is now exhibited at the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna (National Art Gallery of Bologna).
Source: Curia Arcivescovile and Le Chiese di Bologna (L'Inchiostroblu)