St Mark's English Church, Florence

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A grey-white building with a white marble statue in a niche at first floor level
St Mark's English Church, exterior

Saint Mark's English Church is an Anglican church in Florence, Italy.

The church forms part of the chaplaincy[a] 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.[1]

The chaplain is Father William Lister.[2] 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.[3]


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,[4] Tooth purchased a 15th-century palazzo to meet the new congregation's needs. John Roddam Spencer Stanhope designed and created the wall and ceiling decorations at his own expense.[5] 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.[6] The premises were extended by the purchase of 16 Via Maggio in 1906.[7]

The church was damaged by the 1966 Flood of the Arno River, resulting in the loss of George Frederick Bodley's 19th-century stencil work on the lower walls, although some survived behind a display cabinet.[8]

St. Mark's was the second Anglican church to be built in Florence. The British community in Florence has a long history[9] and the chaplaincy began in the late 1820s. The first church, Holy Trinity, opened in the 1840s. Rebuilt in the 1890s, Trinity Church on the Via Lamarmara, is today a Waldensian Church.


A view down the nave towards the altar. Smooth red columns support cream arches with grey-blue floral decorations. There is a round window above the altar.
Interior: nave and altar


The white marble statue in the niche over the main door is Apotheosis of Saint Mark (2007–8) by Jason Arkles.[10] This is the first work by an American sculptor to have a permanent public location in Florence.[11]


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[4] and seating 400.[3] 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".[4]


  1. ^ A chaplaincy in this context is rather like a parish but with a more fluid membership. In this case it mainly serves three groups of English speakers: expatriates, students and tourists in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, with participants often travelling long distances.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Chaplaincy". Florence: St Mark's English Church. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Staff and Ministry". Florence: St Mark's English Church. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b Brucato, Haley (11 April 2013). "More than Meets the Eye". The Florentine (181). Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Schreiner 2001, p. 90.
  5. ^ Schreiner 2001, p. 90: quoting Varty, H. A. (1934). A Short History of St Mark's English Church. Unpublished. p. 15.
  6. ^ Mittler 2011, p. 49.
  7. ^ "History". Florence: St Mark's English Church. Archived from the original on 12 July 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  8. ^ Schreiner 2001, pp. 90–91.
  9. ^ Mittler 2007.
  10. ^ "Apotheosis Of Saint Mark". Monuments. Jason Arkles. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Modern Art in Florence". LdM News. Florence: Lorenzo de' Medici School. Retrieved 3 July 2013.


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Coordinates: 43°46′3.28″N 11°14′57.65″E / 43.7675778°N 11.2493472°E / 43.7675778; 11.2493472