Santi Apostoli

An Italian Town Built On a Hill Cannot Be Hidden

M.A. in Political Science, European Union Policy Studies

Santi Apostoli is a hidden gem of Italy. Existing as one of the oldest churches in Florence, this stunning High Middle Age design shares the timeless spirit of worship. Supposedly, it was Michelangelo himself who convinced the architect, Bindo Altoviti, to preserve rather than rebuild the church in Florence’s familiar Renaissance style. It was originally built in the 11th century, but parts were remodeled in the 15th and 16th centuries. Yet, the front-facing facade ascribes its foundation to Charlemagne in the year 800. 

Some even go as far as to say that Charlemagne and his paladin Roland founded this church during their journey through Florence toward Rome for Charlemagne’s crowning as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Santi Apostoli’s entrance opens to a formerly Medieval square called Piazza del Limbo in an intimate corner of this historical city. It’s an easy church to miss, wedged past a narrow alley when walking along the Arno toward the famous Ponte Vecchio. 

Despite its age, this Catholic Church is alive and well with a thriving English-speaking community. There are weekly masses and social events for University students from all over the world. Pizza parties and theological discussions are held in Santi Apostoli’s group called the Upper Room every Tuesday starting at 6 PM. This is a great place to build relationships with local and international students alike while connecting with your faith. 

Father Kramer Cameron currently runs the Youth Ministry, keeping students engaged and spiritually fulfilled. If you’re concerned about finding fellowship away from home, Santi Apostoli’s Upper Rooms has your back. I have met students from Mexico and Austria through this fellowship who all have fascinating paths of study, from icon art to international business. 

The greatest decoration, in my opinion, is the three stones from the Tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem. A Florentine knight, Goffredo di Buglione, donated these stones that he collected from his involvement in the First Crusade. This deep history makes them proud centerpieces to Santi Apostoli. Till today, these stones are carried to the Duomo in a procession to light the candle of the Easter Vigil. 

I was immensely excited about this since I was a part of the Easter procession this year, gowned in white and helping to carry these ancient stones. I’ve always wanted to attend mass in the Duomo, so I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Santi Apostoli has allowed English speakers like me to pursue these unique experiences in Florence that I know I could have never done on my own. Seek, and you will find.

Marisol Powell (‘24) is a current European Union Policy Studies student passionate about religious and cultural studies. She obtained her bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Mary Washington in 2023. With a love for travel, Marisol has immersed herself in exploring churches and religious sites across Italy and Europe, fueling her academic curiosity and enriching her understanding of diverse cultures and faiths.

Back to Top

Published: Thursday, June 20, 2024

Last Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2024

Related Articles