Founded in the 14th century by the Augustinians (the ‘Scolopi’ took their place only in 1762), the church was completely renewed for Duke Francesco I’s funeral in 1659.
The decorations that were made on that occasion were so successful that Laura Martinozzi decided to transform Sant’Agostino into the Estense Pantheon (though the graves from the 19th century are in San Vincenzo°°). She was the widow of Francesco’s successor, Alfonso IV, regent of the State for many years and also Cardinal Mazzarino’s niece.
Domenico Gamberti, Gian Giacomo Monti and Baldassarre Bianchi worked on the project.
The plain facade, adjacent to the Museums Palace, has a nice portal and a rose window of the 16th century.
The huge interior presents a single nave and a deep presbytery. It is wonderfully decorated with statues, stuccoes and paintings. The extraordinanry coffered ceiling is by Francesco Stringa, Sigismondo Caula and Olivero Dauphin. Giovan Pietro Piazza and Antonio Maria Costa created the three dimensions work. In the clypeuses there are busts representing saints and revered members of the Este family, among angels and allegorical figures by Lattanzio Maschio and Giovanni Lazzoni (project by Francesco Stringa).
In the first chapel on the right, a wonderful Deposition from the Cross, in terracotta by Antonio Begarelli (1530); in the second one Saint Michael by Zoboli (commissioned by Marchese Taddeo Rangoni); under the choir, Virgin nursing the Child or Madonnna della Consolazione by Tommaso da Modena (14th century); altarpiece by Francesco Stringa (1668).
On the left of the entrance: Saint Anthony by Adeodato Malatesta (19th century); Saint Joseph by Francesco Vellani; Nativity by Ercole Setti (16th century).
Near the presbytery, on the right, the monument is dedicated to Paolo Ruffini, a great Modenese mathematician; on the left, the bust of Carlo Sigonio, the historian, probably by Begarelli. The altar is by Sante Cavani (19th century).