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.
The church was 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 the 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 and was also built 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 hall inside, aisle-less for easier preaching. As in Santa Croce, the Franciscan church in Florence, the wealthy were here keen to buy burial space in Franciscan churches to show their humility and penitence.
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, having been 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 Particles), 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 348 whole consecrated hosts and six halves, on the 14th of August 1730. They were all found three days later, on the 17th, in the offering box at the church of Santa Maria di Provenzano, suspended by cobwebs, dusty, but miraculously intact and fresh-bread smelling, which they have remained ever since. Subsequent test on unconsecrated hosts have shown that they go stale and dark yellow. 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. On the Feast of Corpus Christi the sacred particles are processed through Siena in a special processional monstrance.
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 end of the east end has
a fresco panel of the Madonna and Child Enthroned. The next
before the apse have the highlight Lorenzetti frescoes restored for the big
Ambrogio Lorenzetti exhibition in Siena in 2017/18. The left hand chapel,
the Bandini-Piccolomini has
The Ordination of
Saint Louis of Toulouse and a somewhat graphic Martyrdom
of the Franciscan Friars, by Ambrogio (see
right). The next chapel, 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 brothers' return from Assisi in the
late 1320s. This cycle was whitewashed over in 1730 and rediscovered 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
From Francesco Vanni's map
Oltrarno :: Fiesole