St Mark's English Church, Florence
History and museums
Saint Mark's English Church is an Anglican church in Florence, Italy.
The church forms part of the chaplaincy of St Mark's Florence with St Peter's Siena, which also includes a congregation in Bologna, in the Diocese in Europe of the Church of England.
The chaplain is Father William Lister. The average congregation is about 150. The church ministers to the homeless in Florence. It is also used for classical music concerts and opera, with a resident opera company.
St Mark's was founded by the Reverend Charles Tooth as a centre of worship for Anglo-Catholic members of the Anglican Church in Florence. He started a house church at 1 Via dei Serragli in 1877 to teach Anglo-Catholic principles and celebrate the Holy Eucharist daily during the week. In 1880, Tooth purchased a 15th-century palazzo to meet the new congregation's needs. J R Spencer Stanhope designed and created the wall and ceiling decorations at his own expense. The first Holy Eucharist was celebrated there on 1 May 1881, although chaplain and church were not licensed for service by the bishop until 1884. The premises were extended by the purchase of 16 Via Maggio in 1906.
The church was damaged by the 1966 Flood of the Arno River, resulting in the loss of G F Bodley's 19th-century stencil work on the lower walls, although some survived behind a display cabinet.
St. Mark's was the second Anglican church to be built in Florence. The British community in Florence has a long history. The chaplaincy began in the late 1820s. The first church, Holy Trinity, opened in the 1840s. Rebuilt in the 1890s, Holy Trinity Church on the Via Lamarmara, is today a Waldensian Church.
The white marble statue in the niche over the main door is Apotheosis of Saint Mark (2007–8) by Jason Arkles. This is the first work by an American sculptor to have a permanent public location in Florence.
The building was altered by Tooth, who turned the ground floor into a church with nave, aisles, transept and chancel, about 90 feet (27 m) long and seating 400. The interior is decorated in the Pre-Raphaelite style and the upper reaches of the church have floral motifs with, as described by art historian Berenice Schreiner, "a wonderful sense of naturalism".