Posted by: debrakolkka | October 14, 2011

San Frediano, a beautiful church in Lucca

This beautiful church is one I visit often. It is in the Piazza San Frediano, near the anfiteatro. The Romanesque church takes its name from the Irish bishop who built the original church on this site in the 6th century. The current church dates from the 12th century.

San Frediano

The facade was added in the 13th and 14th centuries. The 13th century mosaic represents The Ascension of Christ with the apostles below.

the gold mosaic facade

the ascension of Christ

the apostles

The church itself is quite lovely. It is much less ostentatious than some I have been into.

the interior

The 12th century font is especially interesting. The basin is decorated with the story of Moses. At this time few people could read, which is why paintings and sculptures often told a story.

the font

detail on the font

Behind the font is a 15th century glazed terracotta lunette from the school of Andrea della Robbia.

blue and white della Robbia

I think the pulpit is very cute.

the marble pulpit

There are some very old frescoes in the church.

one of the old frescoes

I particularly like this one

There some wonderful old paintings in the chapels  and at the back of the church

in one of the chapels


near the door

One of the main reasons I take all my visitors to San Frediano is to see Saint Zita, who rests peacefully in her glass case in a special room to the side. She is a favourite saint of Lucca and she is about 800 years old. I think she looks pretty good for that age.

Saint Zita in her glass case

Click here to see more on the very interesting Saint Zita.

Don’t miss San Frediano if you go to Lucca.


  1. True art… Everywhere, everywhere!!

  2. Very beautiful. What was the Irish bishop’s name? Was it Frediano? Is that an italianized version of an Irish name? (sorry if my question is ignorant…)

    • His Irish name was Fridianus. The name of the church was changed to San Frediano when he was buried there. His grave is inside the church.

  3. Stunning. Thanks
    See you soon in Montalcino

    • I am looking forward to my Montalcino visit.

  4. Beautiful post! The mosaic is stunning – a craft I would love to learn.

    • You should go to Ravenna to see the most amazing mosaics. There are a few posts on Ravenna on the blog.

  5. How lovely, and how different to the humble little parish churches round here, and even the big town ones, yet you say, “… much less ostentatious than some I have been into!”

    • Some of the churches are covered in glittering gold and lots of decoration. This one is quite simple.

  6. The font is beautiful. I agree Saint Zita looks good for her age! I see someone before me was wondering about the Irish bishop’s name, I am intrigued too.

    • Fridianus was his Irish name.

  7. It’s wonderful to see a post of somewhere I’ve been.! I went here on our last morning in Lucca. This church is absolutely beautiful.

  8. And am I right in thinking Puccini used to play the organ there?

    • No, on second thoughts, he played at the less beautiful church down the road.

  9. Saint Zita is, indeed, looking great for 8oo years-old. If only I looked half that good as I approach 50!

    • I particularly like the flowers in her hair.

  10. I think we missed this church when we visited Lucca. Darn! Well, now I had yet another solid excuse for going back.

    • That is indeed and excellent reason to go back.

  11. I go quite frequently to San Frediano to attend Mass. Their times are very convenient (5:30 pm on Saturdays and vespers and 12:00 noon on Sundays). Rafael and our dog “Tequila” patiently wait for me sitting at the bar with the umbrellas. He likes San Frediano, but says that he has already attended too many Masses and prefers to sit down and relax. I love San Frediano, it is a very inspiring church and I always pay a visit to Santa Zita. Lucca is such a wonderful city and we are very fortunate to be only 25 minutes away. I also go to Mass to San Pietro in Corsena, another wonderful Romanic church and Bagni di Lucca’s own parish (Bagni used to be called Corsena); however, I have to go by car as there is quite a hill to climb and this is not good for my knees…..

    • I will go to the church in Corsena soon to have a look and take some photos.

  12. I’ve been there! It’s really awesome!

    • It is one of the many amazing churches in Lucca.

  13. There is literally so much for the eye to see here. Thanks for taking us here with you Debra! 🙂

  14. beautiful frescos. Such detail in all of the paintings.

  15. What a fantastic post, gorgeous paintings. Your brain must be in overdrive after seeing all the amazing art. Such a fan. Can’t wait to travel.

  16. I photographed this church from the outside when I was in Lucca this May with Panini Girl, but did not venture inside. After all, we were on a food tour. Many thanks for showing me the beautiful interior, especially Saint Zita.

  17. Memories, loved the place. Your picture for Caroline (marina facing the buildings) has the place we stayed in it, the building with the turret is a great little B&B. 4 rooms and a beautiful terrace that looks out to the bay and Vesuvius. We will be back there again.

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