Chiesa di San Domenico
The Church and adjoining convent belonged to the enclosed order of Dominican nuns. Following damage to the building during the second world war, the nuns moved to the monastery of S. Domenico Nuovo (in via Uguccione della Faggiola) taking with them the reliquaries and the works of art that were most important for worship. Today the convent building has been adapted and is mostly occupied by shops.
The convent was founded in the late 14th century by Chiara Gambacorti – a nun at the convent of S. Croce in Fossabanda, and member of a powerful family of merchants – who in 1382 founded the first devotional community of the Dominican Order. As well as helping the needy, the convent became a powerful force in reforming the Order.
Construction of the convent and other buildingswas only completed in 1408. The plainness of the facade reflects the ideals of the Order, as does the architecture of the Church, divided into two distinct parts: the part behind the altar was the so-called nuns’ choir or inner church and was separated from the public by two grilles. The blessed Chiara was buried here shortly after her death in 1420. A marble slab, the remains of her tomb, is now in the church of S. Domenico Nuovo. Thirteen years later, the body of the saint was transferred to a coffin and the tombstone placed in the niche decorated with a large fresco depicting the Crucifixion with saints, still visible inside the church.
The church was completely renovated in the 1700s, when the ornate high altar and the canvas paintings by Giovanni Battista Tempesti depicting Scenes from the Life of the Blessed Chiara (1782) were placed here.