Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze

Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze

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The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 church in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, and a minor basilica
Minor basilica
Minor basilica is a title given to some Roman Catholic churches. By canon law no Catholic church can be honoured with the title of basilica unless by apostolic grant or from immemorial custom....

 of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres south east of the Duomo
Santa Maria del Fiore
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral church of Florence, Italy. The Duomo, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi...

. The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

, Galileo
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

, Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

, Foscolo
Ugo Foscolo
Ugo Foscolo , born Niccolò Foscolo, was an Italian writer, revolutionary and poet.-Biography:Foscolo was born on the Ionian island of Zakynthos...

, Gentile
Giovanni Gentile
Giovanni Gentile was an Italian neo-Hegelian Idealist philosopher, a peer of Benedetto Croce. He described himself as 'the philosopher of Fascism', and ghostwrote A Doctrine of Fascism for Benito Mussolini. He also devised his own system of philosophy, Actual Idealism.- Life and thought :Giovanni...

 and Rossini
Gioacchino Rossini
Gioachino Antonio Rossini was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces...

, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).

Building



The Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Its most notable features are its sixteen chapel
Chapel
A chapel is a building used by Christians as a place of fellowship and worship. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a church, college, hospital, palace, prison or funeral home, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building,...

s, many of them decorated with fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es by Giotto
Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone , better known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages...

 and his pupils, and its tombs and cenotaphs
Church monument
A church monument is an architectural or sculptural memorial to a dead person or persons, located within a Christian church. It can take various forms, from a simple wall tablet to a large and elaborate structure which may include an effigy of the deceased person and other figures of familial or...

.
Legend says that Santa Croce was founded by St Francis
Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St...

 himself. The construction of the current church, to replace an older building, was begun on 12 May 1294, possibly by Arnolfo di Cambio
Arnolfo di Cambio
Arnolfo di Cambio was an Italian architect and sculptor.-Biography:Arnolfo was born in Colle Val d'Elsa, Tuscany....

, and paid for by some of the city's wealthiest families. It was consecrated in 1442 by Pope Eugene IV
Pope Eugene IV
Pope Eugene IV , born Gabriele Condulmer, was pope from March 3, 1431, to his death.-Biography:He was born in Venice to a rich merchant family, a Correr on his mother's side. Condulmer entered the Order of Saint Augustine at the monastery of St. George in his native city...

. The building's design reflects the austere approach of the Franciscans. The floorplan is an Egyptian or Tau cross
Cross of Tau
The Cross of Tau, named after the Greek letter it resembles, is suspected to have originated with the Egyptians. When a King was initiatied into the Egyptian mysteries a tau was placed against his lips. It has been a symbol to many cultures before Christianity, including a mention in the Old...

 (a symbol of St Francis), 115 metres in length with a nave
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

 and two aisles separated by lines of octagonal columns. To the south of the church was a convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

, some of whose buildings remain.

The Primo Chiostro, the main cloister
Cloister
A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth...

, houses the Cappella dei Pazzi
Pazzi Chapel
The Pazzi Chapel is a religious building in Florence, central Italy, considered to be one of the masterpieces of Renaissance architecture. It is located in the "first cloister" of the Basilica di Santa Croce.- History :...

, built as the chapter house
Chapter house
A chapter house or chapterhouse is a building or room attached to a cathedral or collegiate church in which meetings are held. They can also be found in medieval monasteries....

, completed in the 1470s. Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. He is perhaps most famous for inventing linear perspective and designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but his accomplishments also included bronze artwork, architecture , mathematics,...

 (who had designed and executed the dome of the Duomo) was involved in its design which has remained rigorously simple and unadorned.

In 1560, the choir screen was removed as part of changes arising from the Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 and the interior rebuilt by Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

. As a result, there was damage to the church's decoration and most of the altars previously located on the screen were lost.

The bell tower was built in 1842, replacing an earlier one damaged by lightning. The neo-Gothic marble façade, by Nicolò Matas, dates from 1857-1863.

A Jewish architect Niccolo Matas from Ancona, designed the church's 19th century neo-Gothic facade, working a prominent Star of David into the composition.
Matas had wanted to be buried with his peers but because he was Jewish, he was buried under the porch and not within the walls.

In 1866, the complex became public property, as a part of government suppression of most religious houses, following the wars that gained Italian independence and unity.

The Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce is housed mainly in the refectory
Refectory
A refectory is a dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries...

, also off the cloister. A monument to Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale OM, RRC was a celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician. She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night...

 stands in the cloister, in the city in which she was born and after which she was named. Brunelleschi also built the inner cloister, completed in 1453.

In 1966, the Arno River flooded much of Florence, including Santa Croce. The water entered the church bringing mud, pollution and heating oil. The damage to buildings and art treasures was severe, taking several decades to repair.

Today the former dormitory of the Franciscan Friars houses the Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School)http://www.leatherschool.com. Visitors can watch as artisans craft purses, wallets, and other leather goods which are sold in the adjacent shop.

Art


Artists whose work is present in the church include:
  • Benedetto da Maiano
    Benedetto da Maiano
    Benedetto da Maiano was an Italian sculptor of the early Renaissance.Born in the village of Maiano , he started his career as companion of his brother, the architect Giuliano da Maiano. When he reached the age of thirty he started training under the sculptor Antonio Rossellino...

     (pulpit; doors to Cappella dei Pazzi, with his brother Giuliano
    Giuliano da Maiano
    Giuliano da Maiano was an Italian architect, intarsia-worker and sculptor, the elder brother of Benedetto da Maiano, with whom he often collaborated.- Biography :...

    )
  • Antonio Canova
    Antonio Canova
    Antonio Canova was an Italian sculptor from the Republic of Venice who became famous for his marble sculptures that delicately rendered nude flesh...

     (Alfieri's monument)
  • Cimabue
    Cimabue
    Cimabue , also known as Bencivieni di Pepo or in modern Italian, Benvenuto di Giuseppe, was an Italian painter and creator of mosaics from Florence....

     (Crucifixion, badly damaged by the 1966 flood and now in the refectory)
  • Andrea della Robbia
    Andrea della Robbia
    Andrea della Robbia was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, especially in ceramics. He was the son of Marco della Robbia. Andrea della Robbia's uncle, Luca della Robbia, popularized the use of glazed terra-cotta for sculpture...

     (altarpiece in Cappella Medici)
  • Luca della Robbia
    Luca della Robbia
    Luca della Robbia was an Italian sculptor from Florence, noted for his terra-cotta roundels.Luca Della Robbia developed a pottery glaze that made his creations more durable in the outdoors and thus suitable for use on the exterior of buildings. His work is noted for its charm rather than the drama...

     (decoration of Cappella dei Pazzi)
  • Desiderio da Settignano
    Desiderio da Settignano
    Desiderio da Settignano, real name Desiderio de Bartolomeo di Francesco detto Ferro was an Italian sculptor active during the Renaissance.-Biography:...

     (Marsuppini's tomb; frieze in Cappella dei Pazzi)
  • Donatello
    Donatello
    Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi , also known as Donatello, was an early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence...

     (relief of the Annunciation on the south wall; crucifix in the lefthand Cappella Bardi; St Louis of Toulouse in the refectory, originally made for the Orsanmichele
    Orsanmichele
    Orsanmichele is a church in the Italian city of Florence...

    )
  • Agnolo Gaddi
    Agnolo Gaddi
    Agnolo Gaddi was an Italian painter. He was the son and pupil of the painter Taddeo Gaddi.Taddeo Gaddi was himself the major pupil of the Florentine master Giotto...

     (frescoes in Castellani Chapel and chancel; stained glass in chancel)
  • Taddeo Gaddi
    Taddeo Gaddi
    Taddeo Gaddi was a medieval Italian painter and architect.-Biography:He was the son of Gaddo di Zanobi, called Gaddo Gaddi. He was a member of Giotto's workshop from 1313 to 1337, when his master died...

     (frescoes in the Baroncelli Chapel; Crucifixion in the sacristy; Last Supper in the refectory, considered his best work)
  • Giotto
    Giotto di Bondone
    Giotto di Bondone , better known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages...

     (frescoes in Cappella Peruzzi and righthand Cappella Bardi; possibly Coronation of the Virgin, altarpiece in the Baroncelli Chapel
    Baroncelli Chapel
    The Baroncelli Chapel is a chapel located at the transept's end of the church of Santa Croce, Florence, central Italy. It has frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi executed between 1328 and 1338.-Description:The fresco cycle represents the Stories of the Virgin...

    , also attributed to Taddeo Gaddi)
  • Giovanni da Milano
    Giovanni da Milano
    Giovanni da Milano was an Italian painter, known to be active in Florence and Rome between 1346 and 1369.His style is, like many Florentine painters of the time, considered to be derivative of Giotto's...

     (frescoes in Cappella Rinuccini) with Scenes of the Life of the Virgin
    Life of the Virgin
    The Life of the Virgin, showing narrative scenes from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a common subject for pictorial cycles in Christian art, often complementing, or forming part of, a cycle on the Life of Christ. In both cases the number of scenes shown varies greatly with the space...

     and the Magdalen
  • Maso di Banco
    Maso di Banco
    Maso di Banco was an Italian painter of the 14th century, who worked in Florence, Italy. He was a pupil of Giotto di Bondone. Maso's name and work are known to us from the autobiography of Lorenzo Ghiberti, I Commentari, which identifies frescoes in the chapel of the Holy Confessors at Santa...

     (frescoes in Cappella Bardi di Vernio) depicting Scenes from the life of St.Sylvester (1335–1338).
  • Henry Moore
    Henry Moore
    Henry Spencer Moore OM CH FBA was an English sculptor and artist. He was best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art....

     (statue of a warrior in the Primo Chiostro)
  • Andrea Orcagna
    Andrea Orcagna
    Andrea di Cione di Arcangelo , better known as Orcagna, was an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect active in Florence. A student of Andrea Pisano as well as Giotto di Bondone, his younger brothers Jacopo di Cione and Nardo di Cione were also artists...

     (frescoes largely disappeared during Vasari's remodelling, but some fragments remain in the refectory)
  • Antonio Rossellino
    Antonio Rossellino
    Antonio Gamberelli , nicknamed Antonio Rossellino for the colour of his hair, was an Italian sculptor. His older brother, from whom he received his formal training, was the painter Bernardo Rossellino....

     (relief of the Madonna del Latte (1478) in the south aisle)
  • Bernardo Rossellino
    Bernardo Rossellino
    Bernardo di Matteo del Borra Gamberelli , better known as Bernardo Rossellino, was an Italian sculptor and architect, the elder brother of the sculptor Antonio Rossellino...

     (Bruni's tomb)
  • Santi di Tito
    Santi di Tito
    Santi di Tito was an Italian painter of Late-Mannerist or proto-Baroque style, what is sometimes referred to as Contra-Maniera or Counter-Mannerism.-Biography:...

     (Supper at Emmaus and Resurrection, altarpieces in the north aisle)
  • Giorgio Vasari
    Giorgio Vasari
    Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

     (Michelangelo's tomb) with sculpture by Valerio Cioli, Iovanni Bandini, and Battista Lorenzi. Way to Calvary painted by Vasari.
  • Domenico Veneziano
    Domenico Veneziano
    Domenico Veneziano was an Italian painter of the early Renaissance, active mostly in Perugia and Tuscany.Little is known of his birth, though he is thought to have been born in Venice, hence his last name. He then moved to Florence in 1422-23 as a boy, to become a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano. He...

     (SS John and Francis in the refectory)


Once present in the church's Medici Chapel, but now split between the Florentine Galleries and the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in Milan, is a polyptych
Polyptych
A polyptych generally refers to a painting which is divided into sections, or panels. The terminology that follows is in relevance to the number of panels integrated into a particular piece of work: "diptych" describes a two-part work of art; "triptych" describes a three-part work; "tetraptych"...

 by Lorenzo di Niccolò
Lorenzo di Niccolò
Lorenzo di Niccolò was an Italian painter active in Florence from 1391 to 1412.Often erroneously cited as the son of Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, with whom he realized some works, this artist transformed his style from one more reminiscent of Giotto to one more elegant and linear, similar to that of...

.

Funerary monuments


The Basilica became popular with Florentines as a place of worship and patronage and it became customary for greatly honoured Florentines to be buried or commemorated there. Some were in chapels "owned" by wealthy families such as the Bardi and Peruzzi. As time progressed, space was also granted to notable Italians from elsewhere. For 500 years monuments were erected in the church including those to:
  • Leon Battista Alberti (15th century architect and artistic theorist)
  • Vittorio Alfieri
    Vittorio Alfieri
    Count Vittorio Alfieri was an Italian dramatist, considered the "founder of Italian tragedy."-Early life:Alfieri was born at Asti in Piedmont....

     (18th century poet and dramatist)
  • Eugenio Barsanti
    Eugenio Barsanti
    Father Eugenio Barsanti , also named Nicolò, was an Italian engineer, who invented a form of the internal combustion engine. It is not known whether he was the first to develop such an engine, as the patent request in question has been lost.Barsanti was born in Pietrasanta, Tuscany...

     (co-inventor of the internal combustion engine
    Internal combustion engine
    The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

    )
  • Lorenzo Bartolini
    Lorenzo Bartolini
    Lorenzo Bartolini was an Italian sculptor who infused his neoclassicism with a strain of sentimental piety and naturalistic detail which led him furthermore in the future, while he drew inspiration from the sculpture of the Florentine Renaissance rather than the overpowering influence of Antonio...

     (19th century sculptor)
  • Julie Clary
    Julie Clary
    Marie Julie Bonaparte was Queen consort of Spain and the Indies, Naples and Sicily as the spouse of King Joseph Bonaparte, who was King of Naples and Sicily from January 1806 to June 1808, and later King of Spain and the Spanish West Indies from 25 June 1808 to June 1813.- Background:Julie Clary...

    , wife of Joseph Bonaparte
    Joseph Bonaparte
    Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte was the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily , and later King of Spain...

    , and their daughter Charlotte Napoléone Bonaparte
    Charlotte Napoléone Bonaparte
    Charlotte Napoléone Bonaparte was the daughter of Joseph Bonaparte, the older brother of Emperor Napoleon I, and Julie Clary. Her mother was the sister of Désirée Clary, Napoleon's first love. Charlotte married her first cousin Napoleon Louis, the second son of Louis Bonaparte and Hortense de...

  • Leonardo Bruni
    Leonardo Bruni
    Leonardo Bruni was an Italian humanist, historian and statesman. He has been called the first modern historian.-Biography:...

     (15th century chancellor of the Republic, scholar and historian)
  • Dante
    Dante Alighieri
    Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

     (actually buried in Ravenna
    Ravenna
    Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

    )
  • Ugo Foscolo
    Ugo Foscolo
    Ugo Foscolo , born Niccolò Foscolo, was an Italian writer, revolutionary and poet.-Biography:Foscolo was born on the Ionian island of Zakynthos...

     (19th century poet)
  • Galileo Galilei
    Galileo Galilei
    Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

  • Giovanni Gentile
    Giovanni Gentile
    Giovanni Gentile was an Italian neo-Hegelian Idealist philosopher, a peer of Benedetto Croce. He described himself as 'the philosopher of Fascism', and ghostwrote A Doctrine of Fascism for Benito Mussolini. He also devised his own system of philosophy, Actual Idealism.- Life and thought :Giovanni...

     (20th century philosopher)
  • Lorenzo Ghiberti
    Lorenzo Ghiberti
    Lorenzo Ghiberti , born Lorenzo di Bartolo, was an Italian artist of the early Renaissance best known for works in sculpture and metalworking.-Early life:...

  • Niccolò Machiavelli
    Niccolò Machiavelli
    Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

     by Innocenzo Spinazzi
    Innocenzo Spinazzi
    Innocenzo Spinazzi was an Italian sculptor of the Rococo period active in Rome and Florence.-Biography:Born in Rome to a silversmith, he became the leading sculptor in Florence, where he died. He was trained by Giovanni Battista Maini...

  • Carlo Marsuppini
    Carlo Marsuppini
    Carlo Marsuppini , also known as Carlo Aretino and Carolus Arretinus, was an Italian Renaissance humanist and chancellor of the Florentine Republic....

     (15th century chancellor of the Republic of Florence)
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • Raffaello Morghen (19th century engraver)
  • Gioacchino Rossini
    Gioacchino Rossini
    Gioachino Antonio Rossini was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces...

     by Giuseppe Cassioli
    Giuseppe Cassioli
    Giuseppe Cassioli was an Italian painter and sculptor most famous for his Summer Olympic Games medal design.-Biography:...

  • Louise of Stolberg-Gedern
    Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern
    Princess Louise Maximilienne Caroline Emmanuele of Stolberg-Gedern was the wife of the Jacobite claimant to the English and Scottish thrones Charles Edward Stuart...

     (wife of Charles Edward Stuart
    Charles Edward Stuart
    Prince Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart commonly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or The Young Pretender was the second Jacobite pretender to the thrones of Great Britain , and Ireland...

    )
  • Guglielmo Marconi
    Guglielmo Marconi
    Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian inventor, known as the father of long distance radio transmission and for his development of Marconi's law and a radio telegraph system. Marconi is often credited as the inventor of radio, and indeed he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand...

     (actually buried in his birthplace at Sasso Marconi
    Sasso Marconi
    Sasso Marconi is a town and comune of the province of Bologna in northern Italy, 17 kilometres SSW of Bologna.It is named after Guglielmo Marconi, the radio pioneer, who was born in the nearby city of Bologna. In 1902, Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal at Poldhu Cove,...

    , near Bologna
    Bologna
    Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

    )
  • Enrico Fermi
    Enrico Fermi
    Enrico Fermi was an Italian-born, naturalized American physicist particularly known for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1, and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics...

    (actually buried in Chicago, Illinois)

External links