The Duomo is considered both a Temple of Faith and both a Temple of Art and indeed, some works of art are still in the church, while others, have been moved to the Town Museums, where they were financed and created thanks to donations or offerings.
In the archives there are wills bearing testimony to this devotion that were made by both illustrious and simple persons. Altars, chapels, freizes, frescoes, paintings commissioned from the most famous artists by the persons responsible for the Opera del Duomo, by public administrators and private citizens, all have contributed to make this church more beautiful and rich in works of art.
Originally, the present church was a simple parish church, and in 1056 was transformed into a Propositura (the name given to a parish church responsible for other small parish churches in the surrounding area) by Pope Vittore II.
In 1148 the Duomo was consecrated by Pope Eugenio III returning to Rome along the Via Francigena. In 1182 a papal "Bolla" (papal document) issued by Pope Lucio III granted it numerous privileges. In 1220 Pope Onorio III confirmed the Canonical Chapter’s privileges, as Pope Innocenzo IV did in 1241.
This extraordinary attention given to the church by important religious dignitaries led the Proposto ( the person responsible for the Propositura), Canons, and the Municipality to make the church a more magnificient place of worship worthy of its excellent reputation. It became a Basilica in 1932. In 1238 works to enlarge and embellish the church began, and continued until the end of the 17th century with many famous artists taking part.
The Saints of San Gimingnano such as St. Fina, St. Bartolo, St. Piero, The Martyr and the Blessed Ciardo, were worshipped and celebrated in the church.
Gimignano, the Saint and Bishop of Modena, has his remains and his altar here. Every year on 31st January (St. Gimignano Day), he is the object of special celebration.
Canons, Franciscan, Capuchin, Dominican and Augustinian friars preached from the pulpit of the church as did Girolamo Savonarola in 1483. Several Cardinals were given the title of Proposto (the person responsible for the Propositura) of the church, as in 1146 Giordano Orsini, Napoleone Orsini in 1314, Francesco Carbone in 1389, Francesco Soderini in 1495 and Baldassarre Cossa who was elected Antipope in 1410 and removed in 1414 by the Council of Costanza.
Inside the Duomowe find many very beautiful frescoes: along the walls in the left aisle, Bartolo di Fredi painted "Scenes from the Old Testament" and in the right aisle we find frescoes representing "Scenes from the New Testament" originally considered to be the work of Barna da Siena and recently attributed to "La Bottega dei Memmi".
Entering the central nave we find two famous wooden statues by Jacopo della Quercia standing on both sides of the fresco illustrating the "Martyrdom of St. Sebastiano" by Benozzo Gozzoli.
On the upper part of the central nave between the two doors, above the first two arches on the right and left hand sides are Taddeo di Bartolo’s frescoes showing "the Last Judgement".
In the right aisle, next to the transept, we find the famous Chapel of St. Fina built in 1468. It is the most precious work of art in the Duomo thanks to its elegant altar by Benedetto da Maiano and to its frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio representing on the right hand side "St. Gregorio foretelling St. Fina of her approaching death" and on the left hand side "Her Funeral Rites".
Web site: San Gimignano Pro Loco