With all the marvellous monuments to see in Florence’s city centre, it’s easy to miss a relatively small and unimposing column.
Yet just near the Florence Cathedral, right by the Baptistery, is the Saint Zenobius column.
Right in the heart of the historical city centre of Florence, the Saint Zenobius column is said to mark the spot of a miracle taking place on 27th January 429 AD that concerned Florence’s first Bishop, Saint Zenobius.
Famed for having evangelised Florence and its surrounds, he was also known also as the ‘Apostle of Florence’.
Bishop Zenobius had passed away some 12 years prior to the miracle. On the day in question, his relics were being moved from the old Florence cathedral of San Lorenzo to the new one of Santa Reparata (where now is the Duomo – the Cathedral of Florence) where they have been kept to this day, held in a silver shrine made by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Whilst the procession passed through what was at the time an open field, the bier in which the relics were held is said to have touched the base of a deciduous elm that immediately sprung into bloom.
A column was erected in honour of this miracle, with the bronze silhouette of a flowering tree positioned on one side, together with an inscription (now illegible) recounting the tale that was erected in 1375.
The original column was destroyed by floods in 1333 and replaced the following year. In 1501, the cross fell from its perch, shattering instantly. (It was, of course, eventually replaced again.)
The Column of Saint Zenobius is also the meeting point for our Monumental Marvels: Duomo Museum & Baptistery Tour focusing on the magnificent Duomo Complex.