According to legend, on Epiphany of the year 1600 four priests and several laymen withdrew to the monastery of the Romanesque church of San Prospero where they founded a religious community. Ten years later the community was recognized by a Papal Bull of Apostolic Confirmation as the Congregazione del Santissimo Crocefisso, to be included under the Oratory Institute. Only in the second half of the century did the Pistoian congregation decide to completely embrace the Instituto di San Filippo Neri and at that time the church was renamed for the Saint.
The renovation of the inside of the building, which had been previously promoted and conducted by the architect Domenico di Giovanpiero Marcacci, had already altered the original Romanesque character of the church.
Side altars had been added to allow the worship of saints according to the indications established by the Council of Trent while the high altar, the place of Eucharistic sacrifice, occupied the center of the liturgical space.
The church, even though it is small, houses six confessionals, a sign of how important the sacrament of Confession was to this Order and how these furnishings were in great use during the Counter Reformation period. In this same era the Sienese painter Rutilio Manetti painted the Incoronation of Thorms for the Balocchi altar, a composition dose to the Caravaggio follower Orazio Gentileschi's style for its use of light.
A hundred years after the architectural work, the church of San Filippo was the object of new patronage. Cardinal Carlo Agostino Fabro, a high prelate of the Holy See, had a floor added above the hall of the church so: that he could house there the extensive library he had left to the Congregation.
Some years before, as we read in the plaque over the entrance, the new decoration had been entrusted to seven painters who decorated the walis with a cycle of eight Scenes from the Life of San Filippo Neri.
Giovan Domenico Piastrini was the only artist from Pistoia and, by the Cardinal's wish, he also frescoed the vestibule of the basilica of the Madonna dell'Umiltà.
The painter Giovan Domenico Ferretti, an important exponent of the Florentine Rococo style, was called the first time to fresco the church vault together with the scene painter Lorenzo del Moro; the second time he was commissioned, with the scene painter Pietro Anderlini, to do frescos for the cupola of the apse, the chantry and the choir. This cycle is one of the Florentine artist's greatest works.
The Order of the Pistoian Oratoriani was dissolved in 1808 after the Napoleonic occupation of the city. Today San Filippo continues to be officiated for mass.
Via Abbi Pazienza, 11 - Pistoia
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Comune di Pistoia