And now meet San Frediano, complete with della Robbia

 The Basilica of San Frediano is named for an Irish bishop of Lucca, Fridianus by name. He was Bishop in the first half of the 6th century, which makes me wonder what in the world an Irish bloke was doing in Lucca way back then.

You can’t help but admire the golden 13th century mosaic on the facade of the church. It really glows when the weather co-operates, unlike the day I took the photo. The mosaic represents the Ascension of Christ the Saviour, with the apostles below.


The interior was rather gloomy, workmen were busy with restoration work on the floor.

The huge baptismal font you can see, framed by two columns, is from the 12th century. (Don’t worry, there won’t be a test on any of the dates I’ve mentioned.)


But, what do you see beyond the font? Yes, a terracotta, this time of the Annunciation, attributed to the school of Andrea della Robbia.




And, from Jane, a request to Bill. Can you please identify this family coat of arms? Thank you.

blog stemma jane



Filed under Italy

41 responses to “And now meet San Frediano, complete with della Robbia

  1. Jane

    Starting to suffer serious withdrawal symptoms here! I hope you are having a glorious time!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Even on a dull day the place looks very beautiful. (I’m afraid I didn’t memorize the dates, though, so I’m glad they’re won’t be a test.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was hoping for a close-up of the font, 12th Century my speciality. Have a great break.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Please tell me it’s called San Freddie’s.

    And I’ll add to all the other comments of “the Irish were everywhere at that time”. St Columba started it with his establishment of a monastic community on Iona in Scotland in 563. (There’s still a famous Christian community on the island.) Then they spread through Great Britain and continental Europe. It was called the Hiberno-Scottish Mission.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Better minds than mine have foundered on this one. The coat of arms has recently been restored by the way (but usually said not to have been altered). My blasonatura in Italian in case anyone wants to have a go at it and maybe has better luck: “Partito d’argento e [d’azzurro/di nero] al grifo rampante dell’uno nell’altro, tenente un libro di rosso nelle zampe, alla fascia d’argento attraversante sul tutto.” — Brackets because I have no idea whether the color is blue or black.

    A long detailed discussion of this shield is found on a 2-page thread at, on the IAGI site which is the premier Italian heraldry discussion site, many of the participants being true experts unlike other bulletin boards out there. No firm conclusion, no known family or guild, and one writer feels it might be an early-20c pastiche (a fraud in sum). But a handsome one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe I should have added that the very first writer on that page puts out the pleasant hypothesis that — assuming still that it’s a 20c creation — it’s intended to stand for the Dante Society in Florence, the shield being related to Dante’s arms, and the book being an allusion to his Divine Comedy of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Brian

    To add to what Michel said, the Irish maintained a lot of the texts and the learning in monastic settlements like Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) during the time of the fall of the western empire. They then traveled and preached all over and continued to make pilgrimages. There was another- Saint Donatus- (Donat? Donagh?) San Donato di Fiesole, who arrived in the 800’s and became Bishop of Fiesole.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I like the green angels on either side. And that coat of arms! Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jane

    So clearly another guy who took the Via Francigene through Lucca… . That’s great!

    Wishing Bill every success with one of my favorite stemma from Florence.


  9. At this time Ireland was a focus of christianity and a lot of Irish monks spread gospel over all of the Europe and elsewhere.
    Italy is the country of art and you have well captured it.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The bishop’s name is a dead giveaway….He was obviously a “Freddie” and they added “-anus” (!) and “-ano” to make him sound more convincing.

    I would love to see that beautiful façade glistening in the sun. And the Annunciation looks somehow odd to me, with a very secular-looking putto beneath the main scene AND the border of cherubic flying babies…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • At least your name could be used as is in Italy, although pronounced a little differently, and the “y” replaced with an “i”.

      Maybe a worthwhile visit to Italy would involve finding as many della Robbias as possible?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I grew up around people who “pronounced it a little differently.” Both the Irish and the French (and I assume also the Italians) can’t seem to manage our English “th” sound….Cintia…uh huh….

        I was once doing a job (when I had a Calligraphy studio) of scribing names on honorary certificates and the bureaucrat I dealt with was dictating the names for me…..she had never heard “Yvonne” before, and pronounced it “Why-von” 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. The font itself is an extraordinary work of art. The traditional early-indoor location (versus a separate Baptistry out front) to the right of the main door is important, too! And, aren’t the Irish just northern Italians, or is it that Italians are southern Irish? Welcome to all!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Did you see Saint Zita in her glass case?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. julie

    Here you go Yvonne, he was on pilgrimage to Rome

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Those Irish – they’re everywhere!! What a beautiful church!

    Liked by 1 person

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