San Miniato al Monte in Florence Italy

San Miniato al Monte (St. Minias on the Mountain) is atop one of the highest points in the city of Florence Italy. It was built 1018 and has been described as one of the finest Romanesque structures in Tuscany and one of the most scenic churches in Italy. There is an adjoining Olivetan monastery on the right of the basilica when ascending the stairs. The monks make liqours, honey and herbal teas which they sell from a shop next to the church.

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The church is dedicated to the first martyr of Christian Florence, who was beheaded and then allegedly staggered, head under his arm, to his final resting place on the hillside location of the church.
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St. Miniato or Minaswas an Armenian prince serving in the Roman army under Emperor Decius.

According to his legend,

“He was denounced as a Christian after becoming a hermit and was brought before the Emperor who was camped outside the gates of Florence. The Emperor ordered him to be thrown to beasts in the Amphitheatre where a panther was called upon him but refused to devour him. Beheaded in the presence of the Emperor, he is alleged to have picked up his head, crossed the Arno and walked up the hill of Mons Fiorentinus to his hermitage.[3] A shrine was later erected at this spot and there was a chapel there by the 8th century. Construction of the present church was begun in 1013 by Bishop Alibrando and it was endowed by the Emperor Henry II. The adjoining monastery began as a Benedictinecommunity, then passed to the Cluniacs and then in 1373 to the Olivetans, who still run it.”

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This is an outstanding example of Tuscan Romanesque architecture. The facade is clad in green serpentine stone, offset with pristine Carrara marble.
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Founded in 1018 to serve a Benedictine abbey was sponsored by Countess Matilda of Canossa.

 

There is a five bay arcade surmounted by a Classical temple front with a 13th century mosaic of Christ enthroned with the titular saint of the church. crowning the facade, a bronze eagle symbolizes the wool merchants guild that twas the church’s chief benefactor.

 

 

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