Santa Croce, Florence

Last updated
Basilica di Santa Croce
Basilica of the Holy Cross
Santa Croce (Florence) - Facade.jpg
Florence location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Basilica di Santa Croce
Location in Florence
43°46′6.3″N11°15′45.8″E / 43.768417°N 11.262722°E / 43.768417; 11.262722 Coordinates: 43°46′6.3″N11°15′45.8″E / 43.768417°N 11.262722°E / 43.768417; 11.262722
Location Florence, Tuscany
CountryItaly
Denomination Roman Catholic
History
Status Minor basilica
Consecrated 1443
Architecture
Architectural type Church
Style Gothic, Renaissance, Gothic Revival
Groundbreaking 1294-1295
Completed1385
Administration
Archdiocese Archdiocese of Florence

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 meters south-east of the Duomo. 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, Galileo, Machiavelli, the poet Foscolo, the philosopher Gentile and the composer Rossini, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).

Florence Capital and most populous city of the Italian region of Tuscany

Florence is a city in central Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany region. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Italy European country

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Italy is located in Southern Europe, and it is sometimes considered as part of Western Europe. The country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

A minor basilica is a Catholic church building that has been granted the title of basilica by the Holy See or immemorial custom. Presently, the authorising decree is granted by the Pope through the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Contents

Building

The original brick facade (before the 1860s Gothic Revival embellishments by Niccolo Matas) Facciata antica.jpg
The original brick façade (before the 1860s Gothic Revival embellishments by Niccolò Matas)

The Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Its most notable features are its sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, [lower-alpha 1] and its tombs and cenotaphs. Legend says that Santa Croce was founded by St Francis himself. The construction of the current church, to replace an older building, was begun on 12 May 1294, [2] possibly by Arnolfo di Cambio, and paid for by some of the city's wealthiest families. It was consecrated in 1442 by Pope Eugene IV. The building's design reflects the austere approach of the Franciscans. The floorplan is an Egyptian or Tau cross (a symbol of St Francis), 115 metres in length with a nave and two aisles separated by lines of octagonal columns. To the south of the church was a convent, some of whose buildings remain.

Chapel Religious place of fellowship attached to a larger institution

A chapel is a Christian place of prayer and worship that is usually relatively small, and is distinguished from a church. The term has several senses. Firstly, smaller spaces inside a church that have their own altar are often called chapels; the Lady chapel is a common type of these. Secondly, a chapel is a place of worship, sometimes non-denominational, that is part of a building or complex with some other main purpose, such as a school, college, hospital, palace or large aristocratic house, castle, barracks, prison, funeral home, cemetery, airport, or a military or commercial ship. Thirdly, chapels are small places of worship, built as satellite sites by a church or monastery, for example in remote areas; these are often called a chapel of ease. A feature of all these types is that often no clergy were permanently resident or specifically attached to the chapel. Finally, for historical reasons, chapel is also often the term used for independent or nonconformist places of worship in Great Britain—outside the established church, even where in practice they operate as a parish church.

Fresco Mural painting upon freshly laid lime plaster

Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid, or wet lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the dry-powder pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall. The word fresco is derived from the Italian adjective fresco meaning "fresh", and may thus be contrasted with fresco-secco or secco mural painting techniques, which are applied to dried plaster, to supplement painting in fresco. The fresco technique has been employed since antiquity and is closely associated with Italian Renaissance painting.

Giotto Italian painter and architect

Giotto di Bondone, known mononymously as Giotto and Latinised as Giottus, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence during the Late Middle Ages. He worked during the Gothic/Proto-Renaissance period. Giotto's contemporary, the banker and chronicler Giovanni Villani, wrote that Giotto was "the most sovereign master of painting in his time, who drew all his figures and their postures according to nature" and of his publicly recognized "talent and excellence". In his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Giorgio Vasari described Giotto as making a decisive break with the prevalent Byzantine style and as initiating "the great art of painting as we know it today, introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life, which had been neglected for more than two hundred years".

The Primo Chiostro, the main cloister, houses the Cappella dei Pazzi, built as the chapter house, completed in the 1470s. Filippo Brunelleschi (who had designed and executed the dome of the Duomo) was involved in its design which has remained rigorously simple and unadorned.

Cloister open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries

A cloister is a covered walk, open gallery, or open arcade running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth. The attachment of a cloister to a cathedral or church, commonly against a warm southern flank, usually indicates that it is part of a monastic foundation, "forming a continuous and solid architectural barrier... that effectively separates the world of the monks from that of the serfs and workmen, whose lives and works went forward outside and around the cloister."

Pazzi Chapel church

The Pazzi Chapel is a chapel located in the "first cloister" on the southern flank of the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. Commonly credited to Filippo Brunelleschi, it is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Renaissance architecture.

Chapter house building or room that is part of a cathedral, monastery or collegiate church in which larger meetings are held

A chapter house or chapterhouse is a building or room that is part of a cathedral, monastery or collegiate church in which larger meetings are held. When attached to a cathedral, the cathedral chapter meets there. In monasteries, the whole community often met there daily for readings and to hear the abbot or senior monks talk. When attached to a collegiate church, the dean, prebendaries and canons of the college meet there. The rooms may also be used for other meetings of various sorts; in medieval times monarchs on tour in their territory would often take them over for their meetings and audiences. Synods, ecclesiastical courts and similar meetings often took place in chapter houses.

In 1560, the choir screen was removed as part of changes arising from the Counter-Reformation and the interior rebuilt by Giorgio Vasari. As a result, there was damage to the church's decoration and most of the altars previously located on the screen were lost. At the behest of Cosimo I, Vasari plastered over Giotto's frescoes and placed some new altars. [3]

Counter-Reformation Catholic political and religious response to the Protestant Reformation

The Counter-Reformation, also called the Catholic Reformation or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation. It began with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and largely ended with the conclusion of the European wars of religion in 1648. Initiated to preserve the power, influence and material wealth enjoyed by the Catholic Church and to present a theological and material challenge to Reformation, the Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort composed of apologetic and polemical documents, ecclesiastical reconfiguration as decreed by the Council of Trent, a series of wars, and political maneuvering. The last of these included the efforts of Imperial Diets of the Holy Roman Empire, exiling of Protestant populations, confiscation of Protestant children for institutionalized Catholic upbringing, heresy trials and the Inquisition, anti-corruption efforts, spiritual movements, and the founding of new religious orders. Such policies had long-lasting effects in European history with exiles of Protestants continuing until the 1781 Patent of Toleration, although smaller expulsions took place in the 19th century.

Giorgio Vasari Italian painter, architect, writer and historian

Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, architect, writer, and historian, most famous today for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing. He was also the first to use the term "Renaissance" in print.

The bell tower was built in 1842, replacing an earlier one damaged by lightning. The neo-Gothic marble façade dates from 1857-1863. The Jewish architect Niccolo Matas from Ancona, designed the church's façade, 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 threshold and honored with an inscription.

Star of David Religious Symbol

The Star of David (✡), known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David, is a generally recognized symbol of modern Jewish identity and Judaism. Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles. Unlike the menorah, the Lion of Judah, the shofar and the lulav, the Star of David was never a uniquely Jewish symbol.

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. [4] [5]

The Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce is housed mainly in the refectory, also off the cloister. A monument to Florence Nightingale 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 1940, during the safe hiding of various works during World War II, Ugo Procacci noticed the Badia Polyptych being carried out of the church. He reasoned that this had been removed from the Badia Fiorentina during the Napoleonic occupation and accidentally re-installed in Santa Croce. [6] Between 1958 and 1961, Leonetto Tintori removed layers of whitewash and overpaint from Giotto's Peruzzi Chapel scenes to reveal his original work. [1]

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). [7] Visitors can watch as artisans craft purses, wallets, and other leather goods which are sold in the adjacent shop.

Renovations

The basilica has been undergoing a multi-year restoration program with assistance from Italy’s civil protection agency. [8] On 20 October 2017, the property was closed to visitors due to falling masonry which caused the death of a tourist from Spain. [9] [10] The basilica was closed temporarily during a survey of the stability of the church. [11] [12] The Italian Ministry of Culture said that "there will be an investigation by magistrates to understand how this dramatic fact happened and whether there are responsibilities over maintenance."

Art

The altar and crucifix Basilica di Santa Croce altar and crucifix.jpg
The altar and crucifix
A gate in the gardens with the letters "OPA" for ora pro animis ("pray for souls") Basilica di Santa Croce Ora Pro Animis gate.jpg
A gate in the gardens with the letters "OPA" for ora pro animis ("pray for souls")

Artists whose work is present in the church include:

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 by Lorenzo di Niccolò, whilst the Novitiate Altarpiece by Filippo Lippi and a predella by Pesellino was painted for the church's Novitiate Chapel.

Giotto's Death of St. Francis (early 1320s) with overpainting removed Giotto di Bondone - Scenes from the Life of Saint Francis - 4. Death and Ascension of St Francis - WGA09307.jpg
Giotto's Death of St. Francis (early 1320s) with overpainting removed

The Bardi Chapel features Giotto's Death of St. Francis, a work which was restored heavily in the 19th century; these restorations were later removed to study the areas which are definitively Giotto's, leaving portions of the painting missing. [14]

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:

In literature

Related Research Articles

Fra Angelico 15th-century early Italian Renaissance painter

Fra Angelico was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance, described by Vasari in his Lives of the Artists as having "a rare and perfect talent".

Masaccio 15th-century Italian Renaissance painter

Masaccio, born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, was a Florentine artist who is regarded as the first great Italian painter of the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance. According to Vasari, Masaccio was the best painter of his generation because of his skill at imitating nature, recreating lifelike figures and movements as well as a convincing sense of three-dimensionality. He employed nudes and foreshortenings in his figures. This had seldom been done before him.

Domenico Ghirlandaio Italian Renaissance painter from Florence

Domenico Ghirlandaio, also spelled as Ghirlandajo, was an Italian Renaissance painter born in Florence. Ghirlandaio was part of the so-called "third generation" of the Florentine Renaissance, along with Verrocchio, the Pollaiolo brothers and Sandro Botticelli. Ghirlandaio led a large and efficient workshop that included his brothers Davide Ghirlandaio and Benedetto Ghirlandaio, his brother-in-law Bastiano Mainardi from San Gimignano, and later his son Ridolfo Ghirlandaio. Many apprentices passed through Ghirlandaio's workshop, including the famous Michelangelo. Ghirlandaio's particular talent lay in his ability to posit depictions of contemporary life and portraits of contemporary people within the context of religious narratives, bringing him great popularity and many large commissions.

Santa Maria Novella church in Florence, Italy

Santa Maria Novella is a church in Florence, Italy, situated opposite, and lending its name to, the city's main railway station. Chronologically, it is the first great basilica in Florence, and is the city's principal Dominican church.

Florence Cathedral Church in Tuscany, Italy

Florence Cathedral, formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, is the cathedral of Florence, Italy. It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white, and has an elaborate 19th-century Gothic Revival façade by Emilio De Fabris.

Taddeo Gaddi Italian early renaissance painter

Taddeo Gaddi was a medieval Italian painter and architect.

Agnolo Gaddi Italian early renaissance painter

Agnolo Gaddi (c.1350–1396) was an Italian painter. He was born and died in Florence, and was the son of the painter Taddeo Gaddi.

Santissima Annunziata, Florence Roman Catholic minor basilica in Florence, Italy

The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata is a Renaissance-style, Roman Catholic minor basilica in Florence, region of Tuscany, Italy. This is considered the mother church of the Servite Order. It is located at the northeastern side of the Piazza Santissima Annunziata near the city center.

Giottino Italian painter

Giottino, also known as Tommaso Fiorentino, was an early Italian painter from Florence. His real name was Maso di Stefano or Tommaso di Stefano.

Peruzzi family

The Peruzzi were bankers of Florence, among the leading families of the city in the 14th century, before the rise to prominence of the Medici. Their modest antecedents stretched back to the mid 11th century, according to the family's genealogist Luigi Passerini, but a restructuring of the Peruzzii company in 1300, with an infusion of outside capital, marked the start of a quarter-century of prosperity that brought the family consortium to the forefront of Florentine affairs.

Stradanus Flemish painter, draughtsman and tapestry designer

Stradanus, Johannes Stradanus, Jan van der Straet or Giovanni Stradano was a Flemish artist active mainly in 16th-century Florence, Italy. He was a wide-ranging talent who worked as an easel and fresco painter, designer of tapestries, draughtsman, designer of prints and pottery decorator. His subject range was varied and included history subjects, mythological scenes, allegories, landscapes, genre scenes, portraits, architectural scenes and animals. After training in his native Flanders, he left his home country and ultimately settled down in Florence, Italy. He became a prominent court artist to the Medici during the second half of the 16th century and worked on the many decorative projects of the court. Stradanus also produced large altarpieces for the most important churches in Florence.

SantAnna dei Lombardi Church in Campania, Italy

Sant'Anna dei Lombardi,, and also known as Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto, is an ancient church and convent located in piazza Monteoliveto in central Naples, Italy. Across Monteoliveto street from the Fountain in the square is the Renaissance palace of Orsini di Gravina.

Florentine painting

Florentine painting or the Florentine School refers to artists in, from, or influenced by the naturalistic style developed in Florence in the 14th century, largely through the efforts of Giotto di Bondone, and in the 15th century the leading school of Western painting. Some of the best known painters of the earlier Florentine School are Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Filippo Lippi, the Ghirlandaio family, Masolino, and Masaccio.

Maso di Banco Italian painter

Maso di Banco was an Italian painter of the 14th century, who worked in Florence, Italy. He and Taddeo Gaddi were the most prominent Florentine pupils of Giotto di Bondone, exploring the three-dimensional dramatic realism inaugurated by Giotto.

Sassetti Chapel chapel

The Sassetti Chapel is a chapel in the basilica of Santa Trinita in Florence, Italy. It is especially notable for its frescoes of the Stories of St. Francis, considered Domenico Ghirlandaio's masterwork.

Italian Renaissance painting art movement

Italian Renaissance painting is the painting of the period beginning in the late 13th century and flourishing from the early 15th to late 16th centuries, occurring in the Italian peninsula, which was at that time divided into many political states, some independent but others controlled by external powers. The painters of Renaissance Italy, although often attached to particular courts and with loyalties to particular towns, nonetheless wandered the length and breadth of Italy, often occupying a diplomatic status and disseminating artistic and philosophical ideas.

Piazza Santa Croce square in Florence, Italy

Piazza Santa Croce is one of the main plazas or squares located in the central neighborhood of Florence, region of Tuscany, Italy. It is located near piazza della Signoria and the National Central Library, and takes its name from the Basilica of Santa Croce that overlooks the square.

<i>Badia Polyptych</i> painting by Giotto di Bondone

The Badia Polyptych is a painting by the Italian artist Giotto, painted around 1300 and housed in the Uffizi Gallery of Florence.

Baroncelli Chapel chapel in the right transept of Santa Croce, Florence

The Baroncelli Chapel is a chapel located at the end of the right transept in church of Santa Croce, central Florence, Italy.

References

Footnotes

  1. A 20th-century restoration by Leonetto Tintori revealed that the Peruzzi Chapel scenes were painted in tempera on dry plaster rather than true fresco. [1]

Citations

  1. 1 2 Eimerl, Sarel (1967). The World of Giotto: c. 1267–1337. et al. Time-Life Books. p. 139. ISBN   0-900658-15-0.
  2. Chiarini, Gloria (2007). "Basilica of Santa Croce". Florence Art Guide. Archived from the original on 29 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  3. Cuminetti, Vittorio; Bonechi, Giampaolo, eds. (1969). Florence: Glory of the Art. Bonechi Editore. p. 39.
  4. Besse, J M (1911). "Suppression of Monasteries in Continental Europe: C. Italy". Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. Archived from the original on 5 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  5. "Santa Croce: Overview". Opera of Santa Croce. Archived from the original on 28 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  6. Eimerl, Sarel (1967). The World of Giotto: c. 1267–1337. et al. Time-Life Books. pp. 107–8. ISBN   0-900658-15-0.
  7. http://www.leatherschool.com Archived 2006-08-13 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Associated Press (October 20, 2017). "Tourist killed by falling masonry at famous Florence church". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  9. Agency (October 19, 2017). "Florence tourist death: Falling masonry kills Spanish visitor to Basilica di Santa Croce". The Independent . Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  10. Downs, Ray (October 19, 2017). "Tourist killed by falling stone at famous Italian church". UPI . Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  11. Associated Press (October 29, 2017). "Tourist killed by falling masonry in famous Florence church". The Guardian . Milan. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  12. Gasperetti, Maco (October 20, 2017). "Collapse at Santa Croce in Florence despite safety measures". Corriere.it . Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  13. Borsook, Eve (1991). Vincent Cronin (ed.). The Companion Guide to Florence, 5th Edition. HarperCollins; New York. pp. 100–104.
  14. De la Croix, Horst; Tansey, Richard G.; Kirkpatrick, Diane (1991). Gardner's Art Through the Ages (9th ed.). Thomson/Wadsworth. pp. 572–73. ISBN   0-15-503769-2.

Wikisource-logo.svg Works related to Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Suppression of Monasteries in Continental Europe at Wikisource