Church – San Michele in Foro, Lucca, Italy

The church of San Michele was built on the site of the forum that served as a center of public life in ancient times. The square on which the church is situated once stood the Palatium Civitatis, or the Public Place, which was built next to the church but then disappeared. 

The church dates to around 795 AD. In 1070 Pope Alexander II ordered the rebuilding of the church in its present location. The current facade was designed in the 13th century. The Pisan-Luccan architecture is a fusion of Roman and Gothic, with many mysterious figures. The lower part of the facade is a blind arcade.  The upper part has four orders of small loggias. At the summit is a statue of St. Michael the Archangel. The lower right corner of the facade has a statue of the Madonna salutis portus, sculpted by Matteo Civitali in celebration of the end of the plague of 1476.

A bell tower was created between the 12th and 14th centuries. The tower rises from the southern transept of the building. The tower is adorned with a series of mullioned windows in single, double and triple designs.

In 1370 the church was the official meeting place of the Consiglio Maggiore, the highest unit of government for Lucca.

Radical restorations occurred in the 1800s giving the church as we know it today. Several figures decorate the arches including Camillo Benso, Vittorio Emanuele, and Giuseppe Garibaldi. These were inserted by Giuseppe Pardini during the last restoration of the church.

Inside the church are a Madonna with child by Andrea della Robbio and a panel by Filippino Lippi portraying the Four Saints. 

On display beneath the crucifix are the remains of San Davino, an Armenian piligrm who died on his way to Santiago de Compostela while stopping in Lucca. His body is said to have acquired supernatural powers after his death.

Additional Sources

Church of San Michele in Foro, Italy Guides, accessed 12/18/2018. https://www.italyguides.it/en/tuscany/lucca/church-of-san-michele-in-foro

San Michele, Lucca, Italy…, alamy, accessed 12/18/2018. https://www.alamy.com/san-michele-lucca-italy-the-altar-with-a-12c-crucifix-and-the-corpse-of-san-davino-an-11c-armenian-pilgrim-who-is-said-to-have-miraculous-powers-image208147309.html

Chiesa di San Michele in Foro, Tuscany.co, accessed 12/18/2018. https://www.tuscany.co/monuments-lucca/chiesa-di-san-michele-in-foro.html