Founded in 1326 on the site of an earlier church built from 1228 to 1255, this church was completed around 1475 to designs by Agostino di Giovanni and Agnolo di Ventura, and finished under the direction of Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who also worked around this time on Santa Maria delle Nevi nearby. Much restored, in baroque style, after it was seriously damaged by a fire in 1655 which also destroyed a Perugino altarpiece, and in the choir in 1715.
After conversion of the complex to use as a barracks the work on the church between 1894 and 1913, by Giuseppe Partini, attempted to return it to its original gothic state, with mixed success. The interior would originally have been covered in frescoes and the floor paved with tombs. Some wall tombs remain, and patches of fresco. The neo-gothic façade is by Vittorio Mariani and Gaetano Ceccarelli (1894-1913). The previous, unfinished-looking, façade can be seen in the postcard (far below right). The convent buildings now house the University.
A huge stripy barn inside, with no aisles for easier preaching. As in the Franciscan church in Florence, Santa Croce, the renaissance rich were keen to buy burial space in Franciscan churches to show their humble penitence, to counter their sinfully profiting from usury.
The back wall has high and hard to see damaged detached frescos. The one of a choir of angels from the Coronation of the Virgin was begun in 1447 on the city's Porta Romana by Sassetta, possibly already outlined in sinopia by Simone Martini. Sassetta contracted pneumonia from working outdoors and died on 1st April 1450, It was finished in several attempts from 1458 to 1466 by his colleague Sano di Pietro, using Sassetta's full-size cartoons. The other is from the Porta Pispini and is by Sano di Pietro. Lower down are tombs of the Salimbeni family.
Six recesses on the left wall have large unstriking 16th & 17th century panel paintings on rusty iron frameworks, installed in 1997 to replace the Baroque side altars destroyed in the 19th century.
There's a deep transept with four deep chapels either side of a rectangular apse and two in the rear of the left arm. One of these is called the Cappella della Sacre Particole (Chapel of the Sacred Particle), and there's another of the same name in the right transept. These are used to celebrate a miraculous event that took place after the theft of a ciborium containing 351 consecrated hosts on the 14th of August 1730. They were found three days later, in the church of Santa Maria di Provenzano, miraculously intact and incorrupt, which they have remained ever since. This event is therefore celebrated on the 17th of every month, in the chapel in the left transept (also known as the Piccolomini Chapel) in the summer and the right one (Martinozzi) in the colder months.
The north transept has a Martyrdom of Saint Martina by Pietro da Cortona and the huge doorway by Francesco di Giorgio Martini taken from the facade of the church in the early 20th century.
There are light switches to the right in all of the east end chapels.
The first chapel at the left of the east end has
a fresco panel of the Madonna and Child Enthroned. The next
before the apse have the highlight Lorenzettis restored for the big
Ambrogio Lorenzetti exhibition in Siena in 2017/18. The left hand one,
the Bandini-Piccolomini has
The Ordination of
St Louis of Toulouse and a somewhat graphic Martyrdom
of Six Franciscan Friars, by Ambrogio (see
right-hand one, next to the apse, the Piccolomini Todeschini, has the famed red-skied Crucifixion by Pietro
(1326) (see above). The
three are substantially all that remains of seven frescos, once in the
chapter house here, began on the Lorenzettis'
return from Assisi in the late 1320s. This cycle was mentioned by both
Ghiberti and Vasari but whitewashed over in 1730 and discovered when
flakes of plaster fell from the wall in 1832 and uncovered and moved
into the chapels in 1857. Much of the original painting had been done dry
(a secco) after the fresco had been completed, hence the
substantial losses of colour, especially the azurite of the skies.
Selva (wood) contrada church
Oltrarno :: Fiesole