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7 Santa Giuliana Falconieri 7 Maria Valtorta  7 David Maria Turoldo  7 Giovanni Vannucci         7 Domenica del Paradiso


11  Borgo La Croce  11 Cesare Beccaria                       13 San Filippo Neri          16 San Giovanni Gualberti    19 Santa MariaMaddalena de' Pazzi


1 Andrea Del Sarto, San Giovanni Battista 1 & 21
Verrocchio, San Giovanni Battista, La Madonna, San
Donato di Fiesole


2 Santa Reparata 2 & 3 San Zenobio

2 & 3 Botticelli, Miracolo di San Zenobio



3 Sant’Ambrogio battezzando Sant’Agostino 3 San Lorenzo, Beato Angelico  3 Niccolò Stenone


4 Santa Caterina da Siena 5 Santa Umilta

6 Fioretta Mazzei and Giorgio La Pira


6 don Lorenzo Milani 6 Paolo Coccheri

7 Lippo Lippi, i Sette Santi,fondatori dei Servi


10 Maria Bagnese 10 Teresa del Bambino Gesù

Sant’Andrea Corsini  24 Santa Brigida di Svezia
Michelangelo JBH

aints are models for us. In the Middle Ages the ‘Discernment of Spirits’ was to ask if one’s comportment was for charity for all or for self-aggrandizement. Only recently has sainthood required scientific medical proofs. The Saints of the Early Church gave their lives as martyrs in defiance of Roman Imperialism and are named in the Canon of the Mass, the first a slave in Carthage, “Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia”, Christianity, in its essence being the 'Religion of Women and Slaves'
because of its Gospel of inclusion of all those outside of the hierarchies of male power, spread rapidly across all of Europe, even reaching Ireland and Iceland. The Desert Fathers and Mothers refused to participate in material consumerism, living ecologically as Hermits in Egypt and elsewhere, singing Psalms and sustaining themselves with weaving baskets. Their stories were read as Legends, providing models for later Christians, the word 'Legend' meaning what is read, from these stories being read from books to monks by monks dining together in silence in their monastic refectories, as still is done at 23San Miniato. A Legend is not necessarily true but its story-telling both delights and teaches us how to behave for the good of all. Women's contemplative practices had them image the lives of Mary and Jesus as happening now. This mapping of the saints of Florence will include others than those officially Canonized and sanitized by the Church hierarchy as Saints, to present also those who cared for the City of Florence and its poor, who cared for Tuscany, who cared for Europe, who cared for World Peace. Florence is particularly sanctified in the Communion of Saints, so many of whom were women, Saints Mary, Felicity, Reparata, Monica, Bridget of Ireland, Umiliana de' Cerchi, Santa Giuliana Falconieri, Monna Tessa, Beatrice Portinari, Umilta da Faenza, Piccarda Donati, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, Domenica del Paradiso, the Ricoveri shepherdesses, Sarah Parker Remond, Teresa del Bambino Gesù, Maria Valtorta, Fioretta Mazzei, Amalia Ciardi DuPré. An early church dedication in Oltrarno is to the slave martyred in the arena in Carthage while still lactating her child, 17Saint Felicity. The Greek world praised parrhesia, the obligation to speak the truth for the common good, at personal risk. Saints are like the irritating grain of sand around which the pearl is formed, Isak Dinesen saying 'Pearls are like Poet's tales, loveliness born out of disease'. All of us are called to be defiant saints, to practice Holy Disobedience to injustice. And to remember that every saint had a past, every sinner, a future.

The two saints of Florence, who are her present patrons, are the Madonna and St John the Baptist, Mary who sheltered the city under her great cloak, John who renounced all his family’s tax breaks and priestly privileges to live in austerity by the Jordan River and preach prophetically to prostitutes and publicans. John is celebrated in the 1Baptistery, Mary in the great 2Duomo.
Beside the Duomo is the Misericordia, founded seven hundred years ago to care for the ill, the dying and to bury the dead, anonymously. They still run the free ambulances you see beside the Duomo. The dome of Santa Maria del Fiore is shaped like the Madonna's cloak, even her breast, as sheltering and nurturing the entire city. Her cloak is also shown in the Bigallo Madonna della Misericordia, with the Seven Acts of Mercy (1, Feed the Hungry, 2. Give Drink to the Thirsty, 3. Clothe the Naked, 4. Shelter the Stranger, 5. Visit the Sick, 6. Visit the Prisoner, 7. Bury the Dead), embroidered on it, and in the 8Madonna of the Innocenti, founded by the Silk Guild, who shelters all the abandoned children, and where they are taught a trade, given a dowry. She is the Madonna of the great Hospital of 9Santa Maria Nuova, founded by Folco Portinari and Monna Tessa, Dante’s Beatrice’s father and nurse, caring for the sick and the stranger, and even the great Dominican church, 4Santa Maria Novella, opposite Giovanni Michelucci's Station, is named for her. Its frescoed Spanish Chapel is where Catherine of Siena, who visited Florence several times, seeking to make peace, was tried by the Inquisition and found Orthodox.

The 1Baptistery is linked with 22San Miniato, both among the oldest structures in Florence, the 1Baptistery thought to be converted from a Roman Temple to the pagan god Mars, 23San Miniato, the Armenian prince executed in 10Piazza Beccaria, whose Legend may be crafted from the Coptic Saint Minas, and the Benedictine tales of miracle-working St Denis and St Alban, all of stories of saints who were beheaded by pagans, who then swam across rivers and carried their heads to their burial places at Montmartre and St Albans. One can smile at such Legends. Executions were carried out in Piazza La Croce, now named Piazza Beccaria because of Cesare Beccaria's book, On Crime and Punishment, which condemned the death penalty, causing Tuscany to abolish it in 1787. As you walk up Borgo La Croce on your left you will see a fresco with Jesus and Mary leaning towards the condemned criminals (us), going to our deaths down that street, with mercy.
America still has the barbaric death penalty. Florence’s Calimala, her merchants of global trading, adorned both the Baptistery and San Miniato with marble and mosaic.

Florence’s Cathedral was first dedicated to 2Santa Reparata, who led Christian armies to victory, and to 2Saint Zenobius, an early Florentine bishop whose body, transported from 3San Lorenzo to the Duomo, touched a dead elm tree, resurrecting it. Botticelli painted Saint Zenobius’ miracles of healing and Giovanni Duprè and his daughter, Amalia Duprè, sculpted them on either side of the present Duomo’s door. Their descendant is Amalia Ciardi Duprè who continues their work sculpting the Bible, Saints and others.

Saint Ambrose, who composed Ambrosian chant for the liturgy in Milan and who converted St Augustine at the prayers of his mother, St Monica, came here and founded the church dedicated to 3San Lorenzo, the Early Church martyr who was burned on a grill. Later the Danish physician, geologist and theologian, Niccolò Stenone, would be associated with the church of San Lorenzo. Another church is named for St Ambrose in the market place, while the Augustinian 18Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno celebrates Saints Monica and Augustine. This is where Martin Luther, formerly an Augustinian friar, preached before going on to Rome and losing faith in the Catholic Church.  

Giovanni Villani tells us that Florence was largely pagan, the Christians hiding in the countryside in caves in the mountains. Christian Rome had collapsed from its bridges and aqueducts being broken, from cooking with lead, and from invasions, and it became learned Irish monks who restored Europe to Christianity with their setting forth as pilgrims from that far isle, 19San Frediano coming to Florence and Lucca in the sixth century, 21San Donatus, likewise, a pilgrim from Ireland, being elected bishop of 21Fiesole in the ninth century, composing a poem about Saint Bridget of Ireland hanging her rain-drenched cloak on a sunbeam to dry, having Irish Sant’Andrea be his Archdeacon at 22San Martino a Mensola, who then lived as a hermit at 25Sasso, his sister, another Bridget, living in a cave beneath the church of 25Santa Brigida, all of these teaching the people the Bible. As would later the Madonna, appearing at 25Sasso to two Ricoveri shepherd girls, 2 July 1484, tell them to tell the Florentines to study the Bible, then, when they weren’t believed, she appeared to the grownups, too. A Renaissance Bishop of Fiesole from the Corsini family was another Sant'Andrea who died in 1374.

Another mountain over, at Montesenario, the Madonna also appeared to seven young rich merchants’ sons who gave up all to be Servi di Santa Maria, the niece of one of them, Santa Giuliana Falconieri, founding the Servites’ Third Order, of which I am one. Their church in Florence is the 7Santissima Annunziata of the Sette Santi and Santa Giuliana Falconieri, with its miracle working fresco of the Angel and Mary at the Annunciation, the Legend being that the painting was finished by an angel. Its marble pavement in front says in Latin, copying the words in the Bible for the pavement of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, that Robertus Pucci adorned it with precious stone and gave it to the people of Florence. In this same beautiful square is the 8Hospital of the Innocenti, founded to care for the orphans, Florence's children unwanted in their families due to poverty and scandal.

During the thirteenth century Saint Dominic founded the Dominican Order and Saint Francis the Franciscan Order, the Dominicans building 4Santa Maria Novella and later 6San Marco, which would be decorated by Beato Angelico, where Savonarola came to be Prior, declaring Florence’s King to be Jesus, not the Medici princes, and where the saintly Mayor of Florence, Giorgio La Pira would come to live.

At the same time as Dante, Santa Umilta, their children dead, persuaded her husband to become a monk, she a nun at Faenza’s convent of Saint Perpetua, which she then left to become an anchoress, healing a Vallombrosan monk’s gangrenous leg, next with her nuns coming to Florence where she set to work building her church dedicated to St John the Evangelist, which Duke Alexander de’ Medici would tear down to build his 5Fortezza da Basso. Her life and miracles were painted in a polyptych by Pietro Lorenzetti and her statue by Orcagna, the panels now in the Uffizi and Berlin, the statue in San Salvi, her body in Bagni a Ripoli.

The Franciscans split between the Spirituals, vowed to Gospel poverty, and the Conventuals, the Conventuals building the vast 11Santa Croce, the Spirituals Peter John Olivi and Ubertino da Casal protesting and leaving to foster a strong lay movement with the Compagnie dei Laudesi such as that which built 15Orsanmichele, the great granary to feed even the enemy in time of famine, and to which Brunetto Latino, Guido Cavalcanti, Dante Alighieri, Francesco da Barberino belonged. All the lay guilds participated in adorning this structure with the Bernardo Daddi Madonna in the Orcagna tabernacle, with frescoes, stained glass and statues of saint after saint, at which miracle after miracle occurred as also happened at the 7Santissima Annunziata, the 4Dominicans and 12Franciscans jealous about this, Villani and Guido Cavalcanti tell us.

Saint Agnes, Saint Clare’s sister founded the Clarissan monastery at 23 Monticelli, and kept St Francis’ saio there. Piccarda Donati, Dante’s relative by marriage, would be seized from that convent by her violent criminal brother, Corso Donati. Later, Filippa de' Medici and Caterina de' Pazzi, from the two feuding Florentine noble houses, as nuns there, reconciled
their families.

Saint Birgitta of Sweden, the mother of eight children, who prophesied to Popes and Emperors, bringing them together in Rome, in Naples had a vision of the dying Niccolò Acciaiuoli’s soul only being saved from eternal damnation for his sins at the last moment because of the Carthusians praying together with the Dominican Friends of God and others under the Madonna’s cloak of Mercy at the 24Certosa in Galluzzo that he had founded. The Paradiso Brigittine convent would be founded by Florence’s Alberti family at Bagni a Ripoli and their gardener’s daughter, Domenica del Paradiso, would live a saintly life with miracles and writings in Via Laura by the 7Santissima Annunziata.

Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, a Carmelite nun, whose fellow nuns wrote down her visions, wrote many letters, all of these suppressed until after her death and canonization. Her convent was later moved from 19San Frediano to Borgo Pinti where the young Teresa del Bambini Gesù stayed on her way to Rome to ask the Pope to allow her to enter her Carmel in Normandy. The Carmel, now at Careggi, treasures a manuscript of Dante’s Vita nova.

Popes John XXIII and Francis I have taught us to be ecumenical. Saint Bridget of Sweden had warned that if the Catholic Church did not follow the Gospel and  continued to be corrupt the Protestant Reformation would occur. Later, Grand Duke Leopold II, to break the power of the Catholic Church, allowed non-Catholics after 1827 to be buried in Florence, instead of in faraway Livorno, a small Swiss church obtaining the hill outside Arnolfo di Cambio's medieval wall and inside that of Michelangelo he had hastily built against the returning Medici, for what is called the 'English' Cemetery, now in Piazzale Donatello. Here are buried many who worked against slavery, and for the rights of children and women, for nations oppressed under Empires. We have English, Swiss, Americans, Russians and many others among our burials, including suicides, atheists, Freemasons, deserters, paupers and a king's son and a queen's relative.  Among our burials is Nadezhda who came to Florence at 14, a Nubian slave, then baptized in a Russian Orthodox family with name meaning 'Hope'. While Sara Parker Remond, Afro-American, with a letter from Giuseppe Mazzini, studied cutting edge obstetrics at Folco Portinari and Monna Tessa's 9Santa Maria Nuova Hospital.

6Giorgio La Pira and 19Fioretta Mazzei worked tirelessly together for Florence and also for World Peace, exuberant Sicilian Giorgio La Pira living with the Dominicans in 6San Marco, Fioretta from the noble and rich Mazzei, whose ancestor Lapo Mazzei worked as notaio for 9Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, choosing the poverty and austerity of 20San Frediano. So also did Paolo Coccheri, living in San Filippo Neri’s birthplace, whose church is 13San Firenze. Brunetto Latino, Dante Alighieri, Girolamo Savonarola, Robertus Pucci, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, Giorgio La Pira, Fioretta Mazzei, Paolo Coccheri, all saw Florence as the New Jerusalem, as the Kingdom of Heaven amongst us, here and now. It is through the love of God and neighbour, even the love of our enemy, that we  make Florence holy. And who is our neighbour? He and she are also the Samaritan, the leper, the cripple, the Syro-Phoenician woman, the elderly woman with osteoporosis who can't climb the synagogue stairs to the women's quarter, the slave, the thief, the prostitute, the publican, the pilgrim, the tourist, the addict, the poor. For these people, strangers, the sick, Florence built countless hospitals in the Middle Ages. Giovanni Michelucci, the architect who built Santa Maria Novella Station, spoke of Florence as the city of 'accoglienza', of welcoming. The Mass for the Poor, started by Giorgio La Pira and continued by Fioretta Mazzei, meets in the 14Badia fiorentina near Dante's House, each Sunday at 9,00 a.m. This living the Gospel was the inspiration for Florence's beautiful art and architecture.
Not the grim palaces and the tourist museums about power and money. The exquisite art that is in the museums, not only in Florence but looted to other museums world wide, was once in the Florentine churches for the people, for saving souls, for free. It was not the wealth and power of the Medici and their 'subiti guadagni' that made Florence great. Nor was it the Church and her hierarchy. Instead it was the lay people, the craftspeople, the merchants, the bankers, the Arte della Calimala adorning the Baptistery and San Miniato, the Arte della Lana building the Duomo, the Arte delle Sete, the Hospital of the Innocenti, all of the Arti, Orsanmichele, with the Misericordia, the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, the Bigallo, the Buonuomini of San Martino, voluntarily providing social services. It was Florence's living out Mary's Magnificat, as in the medieval Podestà's sworn oath of office to protect the widow, the orphan, to mend roads and bridges, as in Niccolo Stenone's caring for the sick, as in Giorgio La Pira and Fioretta Mazzei's Republic of San Procolo, as in Don Lorenzo Milani's educating peasant children, as in Don Cuba's prison ministry, as in Paolo Coccheri's indefatigable Rondo della Carità, all living the Gospel. It was and is Florence's wisdom that we are, in our Common Humanity, in God's Image. For this the anatomy of our Body was carefully studied at Santa Maria Nuova Hospital by the world's greatest artists, Donatello, the Della Robbia, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo, who empathically portrays Nicodemus in the Pietà in his own image as a Misericordia worker, supporting the widowed sorrowing Mary in Jerusalem, in our Florence.


1. Baptistery, John the Baptist
2. Duomo, Santa Reparata, San Zenobio, Santa Maria del Fiore, Bigallo, Madonna della Misericordia,
San Lorenzo, San Zenobio, St Ambrose, Saint Augustine, San Lorenzo, Niccolò Stenone
4. Santa Maria Novella, St Catherine of Siena
Fortezza da Basso, Santa Umilta
. San Marco, Fra Angelico, Savonarola, Giorgio La Pira
7. Santissima Annunziata, Sette Santi, San Filippo Benizi, Santa Giuliana Falconieri
8. Hospital of the Innocenti

9. English Cemetery
10. Piazza Beccaria
. Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, Monna Tessa, Folco Portinari, Sara Parker Remond
12. Santa Croce
13. San Firenze, San Filippo Neri
14. Badia, Torre della Castagna, Chiesa di San Martino, Dante House

15. Orsanmichele
16. Santa Trinità, Vallombrosan, San Giovanni Gualberti, Sant’Umilta

Ponte Vecchio -> Oltrarno

Santa Felicita, Santa Felicita, Santa Perpetua
18. Santo Spirito, Saint Augustine, Santa Monica, Martin Luther
19. Carmine, Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi (Borgo Pinti, Santa Teresa del Bambno Gesù)
20. San Frediano d’Irlanda, Fioretta Mazzei, Paolo Coccheri

21.  No 7 bus San Domenico, Fiesole, San Romolo, San Donato, by car Sasso, Santa Brigida d’Irlanda, A Renaissance Bishop of Fiesole from the Corsini family is also a Sant'Andrea
22.  No 10 bus San Martino a Mensola and Settignano, Sant’Andrea d’Irlanda, Don Divo Barsotti
23.  No 12/13 bus Piazza Beccaria, San Miniato
24.  No. 37 bus Certosa, Santa Brigida di Svezia, Bagni a Ripoli, Domenica del Paradiso, Via Laura
25.  bus to Santa Brigida, then walk the pilgrim path up the mountain to Sasso

See also https://www.umilta.net/piramazzeiportal.html


For other Florence guides/Per altre guide di Firenze: https://www.florin.ms/GoldenRingGuides.html

Mediatheca Fioretta Mazzei, English Cemetery, Piazzale Donatello, 39, 50132 Florence, Italy. With the collaboration of Renato Stopani, Claudio Leonardi, Alexandra Johnson, Maria Francesca Gallifanti, Alessandro Bossi, Giorgio La Pira and Fioretta Mazzei's Mass for the Poor, i Servi di Santa Maria, etc.

Matthew 6.19. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 

Dante Alighieri, Girolamo Savonarola, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Giorgio La Pira all saw Florence as potentially a new Jerusalem
. It's not money, but knowledge, it's the Seven Acts of Mercy, that made her beautiful,