This and That

Random bits of my life

Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on September 23, 2012

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

The Basilica of San Miniato al Monte in Florence is situated on one of the highest points of the city, above Piazzale de Michelangelo. San Miniato has been called one of the most beautiful churches in Italy and one of the finest Romanesque structures in Tuscany. I reached the church about 15 minutes before closing time, so these photos really don’t do it justice! I didn’t get to the crypt or the famous “Cardinal of Portugal” chapel.

The earliest parts of the building date to 1018, although the upper parts of the facade were finished in the twelfth century or later.

The trussed ceiling of the nave (below) was decorated in 1322. The vivid colours, however, are a legacy of the restoration carried out in 1860-61.

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

Below, a view of the central nave with the tabernacle at the bottom of the photo. The gold altar panels, begun by Agnolo Gaddi in 1394, represent Saint John Gualberto and Saint Minias, the martyr to whose memory the basilica is dedicated (he is said to have been beheaded by the Romans and to have picked up his head, crossed the Arno River, and walked up to his hermitage).

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

Below is a detail of the Romanesque marble pulpit (1209), decorated with an eagle, a monk, and a lion. The pulpit and the rood screen (decorated wall below) were constructed at the same time.

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

The Christos Pantocrator mosaic in the apse is in the Byzantine style, artist unknown (ca. 1260).

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

These frescoes, in the sacristy, depict the life of Saint Benedict and are attributed to Spinello Aretino (1387 -1388). For a panoramic view of the sacristy, go to this site.

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

Side altar and frescoes at the end of the right aisle.

San Miniato al Monte, Florence

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3 Responses to “Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, Florence”

  1. Judy said

    What is Christos Pantocrator? Fascinating – you are my tour guide of choice, henceforth!

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Pan (Greek) = all or everything, as in panacea. Krator (or crator, if you want to use the Latinized spelling of the Greek) = ruler, as in democracy (rule of the people). The “pantocrator” is an iconographic style showing Jesus as the ruler of the world. It’s fairly common in Byzantine images: enthroned ruler, usually flanked by saints/angels, right hand held up in the gesture of blessing used by the Byzantine rite (the fingers actually spell the initial for “Jesus Christ”, but I’d have to demonstrate it for you in person for you to see it; it’s nearly impossible to make out in an icon unless you have a really good close-up). Book of judgement in left hand. Probably more than you wanted to know, eh? 🙂

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