The Basilica of San Frediano is a Romanesque church in Lucca, located in the homonymous square, Piazza San Frediano. Every year, on the evening of September 13, the candlelit procession of Luminara di Santa Croce, part of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, starts here.
An ancient church was built on this site in the 6th century, and was dedicated to the three holy Levites – Vincenzo, Stefano and Lorenzo. The construction of the church is owed to San Frediano, an Irish pilgrim who was bishop of Lucca between 560 and 588.
During the Longobard domination, the church was enlarged. At the end of the 8th century, a crypt was built for the body of San Frediano.
In 1112, the rebuilding of the church began, and the structure was completed and consecrated in 1147 by Pope Eugene III. The project included a church with three naves and an apse, with the facade facing east, unlike the Augustinian rule that oriented it to the west.
In the 12th century, the church was lower than we see today. The raising of the central nave and the construction of the wooden ceiling dates back to the 13th century, and was completed with the mosaic decoration of the upper part of the facade.
In the 14th and 16th centuries, numerous chapels were built on the sides aisles for devotion and private burial, that led to the extension of the facade.
The facade is vertically divided in five parts, corresponding to the central nave, the two side aisles and the two rows of chapels. The three portals are delimited by pillars, surmounted by an architrave and blind arches. At the central level, there is a small loggia with columns surmounted by capitals and two single-lancet windows.
Above, we find the mosaic with the Ascension of Christ among angels, with the Apostles below, on each side of the Madonna, whose image was replaced by the central window.
The bell tower, near the apse, was built in various eras – the dark stone base dates back to the 12th century, while the highest part was rebuilt in the 13th century, with the presence on each side of mullioned windows.
Inside, the three naves are divided by columns, that support round arches. The central nave is very high, and is surmounted by a wooden truss ceiling.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Basilica of San Frediano is located about 1.3 kilometers away from the Lucca railway station. The closest bus stop is San Frediano 1, right in front of the church, on the Line LAM Verde.