Because of the bloody battle that took place on 11th April 1512 on the outskirts of the city, the Camaldolese monks left the convent at the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe and moved inside the city walls. Along what is now via Baccarini, they built the new abbey, where they also saved the volumes that would later give life to the Classense Library, and a new church dedicated to San Romualdo, founder of the congregation, in place of the Church of San Bartolomeo in Turricola.
The foundation stone was laid in 1630 to a design by the Ravenna architect Luca Danesi, and the church was consecrated on 1 May 1637 by Cardinal Luigi Capponi, Archbishop of Ravenna. Inside the church are works by artists of the calibre of Guercino, Giorgio Vasari and Michelangelo Cerquozzi. To enrich this already immense patrimony, during the seventeenth century the church was further embellished with numerous works of art including those by Giovan Battista Barbiani and Franceschini (now largely preserved in the city’s Pinacoteca) and with the construction of a new high altar in 1788.
In 1798 the monks were forced to leave the complex following the Napoleonic requisitions and the church, stripped of most of its furnishings, was turned into a museum, then into a gymnasium. In 1935, the building was restored by the Municipality and used as a civic shrine to those who died in war and in captivity. Further restored, since 2014 it has also housed the Museo del Risorgimento.
The exterior of the church has remained unfinished: the façade, as can be seen, is devoid of decoration. In the lower part, in the centre of the façade, there is a rectangular portal above the street level. In the upper part, however, there is a large rectangular window. A second portal opens in the façade of the left transept, similar to the main one in composition and poverty of decoration, except for the cornice supported by pilasters. The bell tower has a quadrangular plan.
Inside the church, which has a single nave, there is a fine altar designed by Camillo Morigia, with marble by Giuseppe Toschini and Giuseppe Baroni, erected to house the remains of St Severus. The frescoes by Giovan Battista Barbiani on The Ecstasy of San Romualdo in the choir lunette and The Immaculate in Glory with the Four Evangelists are also valuable. Attached to the Church of San Romualdo is the former sacristy, now part of the Classense Library, used as a conference room, and known as the Muratori Room.