Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce began as a small church in a marshy area outside the walls of Florence, founded, according to tradition, by St Francis himself. The present building, the world’s biggest Franciscan church, was begun in 1294. It seems that building it took some time: it wasn’t consecrated until 1442. The façade was added in the 1860s. Below we see how it looks now, and how it looked before the facade was completed in 1863.

The interior is full of chapels with remarkable art, and many monuments. Below right are two adjacent chapels to the right of the altar, the Bardi and the Peruzzi chapels, both frescoed by Giotto.  I will focus on the Bardi chapel, (on the left of the two chapels below) as these frescoes focus on the life of St Francis.

Renunciation of worldly goods

The confirmation of the Rule by Innocent III

Francis before the Sultan: ordeal by fire

The Stigmatization

The Death of Francis

The Apparition of Francis at Arles

Just one more painting before we look at some of the monuments. This is a crucifix by Cimabue, c 1287, now in the refectory which has become a museum. Tragically, it was badly damaged in the floods of 1966: here's how it looks after nearly ten years of restoration.

Santa Croce houses the tombs of many distinguished Italians. There are also memorials to some that the church would have liked to have buried, but were unable to get hold of the remains - Dante and Leonardo da Vinci are the best known examples.






Princess Louise Maximilienne Caroline Emmanuele of Stolberg-Gedern. Who is that? Wife of Bonnie Prince Charlie!

On to Montefalco

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