The Augustinians and the Parish Church of San Lazzaro a Lucardo
The Parish Church of San Lazzaro a Lucardo was the mother church for the churches of Certaldo, the Church of Santi Tommaso e Prospero and the Church of Santi Jacopo e Filippo, at one time of Santi Michele e Jacopo. Set a little outside the town along the Via Francigena, it had very ancient origins, since it was already mentioned in the 10th century. Its period of major splendor was during the 13th century when it was guided by prominent priests and rectors.
At that time, there were six suffragans that became sixteen in the following century. Its architecture is an interesting example of the importation of Lombard Romanesque to Tuscany, as exemplified especially by the three apses articulated by subtle pilasters that come together in hanging arches, creating an airy gallery with a clear Lombard imprint. It is the most authentic and untouched part of the building, while the façade, which preserves the antique tri-partition of the Romanesque era, was remodeled with the addition of a central window.
The interior basilican plan with three aisles that rest on rectangular pillars, later adorned by Cenni di Francesco’s frescoes, had a crypt under the central nave and a raised presbytery with the main altar. From 1363 onward, the parish church was under the patronage of the Gianfigliazzi owners, having been endowed to Filippo Gianfigliazzi. The Gianfigliazzis, proprietors of the Castle of Santa Maria Novella, were munificent patrons, commissioning important works of art that are still kept in the church, such as the baptismal font and the holy water stoup, as well as furnishing it with precious silver works, the majority of which are currently displayed in the Museum.
It was this very Gianfigliazzi family that had a dispute with the powerful Augustinians who, certainly since 1422 – probably in 1372, the time of Brother Giovanni Benci’s election to the position of canon – established themselves in the Church of Santi Jacopo e Filippo. Evidence of the dispute is, next to the church’s entry door, a large holy water stoup dated 1572, formerly used as a baptismal font, reduced to this function at the will of the bishop with a decree in 1632-33 that denied the baptismal right to the Church of Santi Jacopo e Filippo, as the inscription indicates.
The Augustinians, in fact, exercised real control over the territory, especially in the areas neighboring the church, often laying claim to privileges of immunity and exemptions from the bishop’s vicar, thus as the conventions established between the parish priest Gino Gianfigliazzi and the convent’s prior Michelangiolo Bevilacqua demonstrate. The Augustinians codified the cult of the Blessed Julia and in 1672 charged Father Andrea Arrighi, known as Capranica from the name of his birthplace, with drawing up the history of the church.
Capranica, who later became the prior of Santo Spirito, was devoted to the celestial patroness of Certaldo all his life, until 1702 the year of his death. The Augustinians remained at Certaldo until the convent’s suppression in 1783.
Rosanna Caterina Proto Pisani
in, Museo d’arte sacra di Certaldo. Guida alla visita del museo e alla scoperta del territorio, a cura di Rosanna Caterina Proto Pisani, Polistampa 2006