Welcome to St Mark’s Church, Florence, Italy

St Mark’s ‘English’ Church is an Anglican church in Florence, Italy which serves all English-speakers who find themselves in Tuscany or Emilia Romagna and is a chaplaincy of the Church of England in the Diocese in Europe. We offer a unique venue for worship; weddings; opera; concerts; music and a wide range of artistic, literary and academic events for visitors and locals alike.

St Mark’s Florence

St Mark’s Church in Florence is one of three worship centres that form a chaplaincy of the Church of England in the Diocese in Europe, known as St Mark’s Florence with St Peter’s Siena.

We have been serving the people of Tuscany, and the many visitors to the area on our current Florence site, for over 132 years. With the Sunday Sung High Mass at the centre of its active liturgical life, St Mark’s also has an extensive music and cultural scene, with its own concert and Mass choirs, St Mark’s Opera, as well as many concerts performed by visiting choirs and musicians. To this is added a wide variety of other cultural events that bring people together in artistic, literary or academic endeavour.

Thank you for visiting our site and we look forward to welcoming you to our chaplaincy.

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The Ninth Sunday after Trinity from St Mark's English Church Florence, Italy. The readings are 1 Kings 19: 9-18; Psalm 85: 8-13; St Paul's letter to the Romans 10: 5-15 and the Gospel, Matthew 14: 22-33. Please feel free to comment, ask questions or to share this post and thank you for listening. ... See MoreSee Less

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Sermon for Sunday 6th August 2017

Trinity 8 2017, St. Mark’s, Florence

“And all ate, and were filled”

When I lived in London, I spent a lot of time around my parish church, St Michael’s, in Camden Town.

In Camden, as in Florence, there is a great deal of excitement, of life, of abundance – and a great deal of suffering, hunger, homelessness and hopelessness too.

Spending time in a church which was open all day meant that I got to know a lot of people whose lives were very difficult, people who didn’t have enough food, or enough money, or enough hope.

Those I knew well, I would give money to, or do a grocery shop for them – but this always felt like a drop in the ocean compared to the gulf between my comfortable, middle class life, and their day-to-day experience.

Today’s story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand was always a favourite of mine when I was a child. I have vivid memories of sitting cross-legged on the carpet at Sunday school, cutting out and colouring in paper loaves and fish.

As an adult, however, it seems troubling, inexplicable, even unfair.

Certainly, the obviously miraculous parts of the story can seem absurd in our enlightened, twenty-first century world. But even if we accept the miraculous, we’re left with the question ‘why not now?’

If Jesus could use five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people, why does he not do the same today, to feed the people begging at church doors in Florence, or living in tents by the Thames in Camden?

The abundance Jesus provides in this story is a source of shame when set against the material need in our world.

I think this is why scholars and preachers often try to explain this story away, to ‘get around it.’

I have heard preachers say that, in fact, there was no miracle. Rather, as the disciples shared what they had, others felt guilty and shared their own food. The moral is simple – we are to stop hoarding our possessions and to give them to others. John Crossan says that ‘the point of this story is not multiplication, but distribution.’

Other scholars like to point to the link between the feeding of the five thousand and other feeding miracles in the Hebrew Bible – the manna given to Moses and the Israelites in the desert, the oil and flour which didn’t run out when Elijah stayed with the widow during the drought.

Both these ways of looking at the story are important, but if we insist on seeing the story as some kind of elaborate metaphor, we sidestep what is actually happening.

As well as being the Eighth Sunday after Trinity, today is also the Feast of the Transfiguration, the day when we remember Jesus appearing on the mountain, his face shining like the sun, accompanied by Moses and Elijah. On the mount of Transfiguration, God speaks from heaven ‘this is my Son, listen to him.’

The Transfiguration, in which the Glory of God becomes visible to the disciples, is a foretaste of what redeemed reality will be.

In our reading from Isaiah, we see a prophecy which also depicts a redeemed, Transfigured reality:

‘you that have no money, come, buy, and eat…listen, so that you may live.’

Here the Glory of the Holy One of Israel is displayed in abundance, and the Holy One of Israel also glorifies his people – not only the chosen people of Israel, but ‘nations that you do not know.’

The feeding of the five thousand also points to this Transfigured reality, this reality which is present for us even when it is veiled in the ugliness of war, poverty, homelessness and deprivation.

This is why we can’t just read the story as a metaphor for the good of sharing, or as a story which links Jesus to Moses and Elijah.

Both these ways of looking at the story separate the material and the spiritual, the act from the reason for the act.

We are called to share, to care for the needy – but the origin of all that we have to share is the vision of God seen in the Transfigured Christ.

The origin of the abundance which seems so stark, so unfair when compared to what we know or have seen of hardship, is the spiritual abundance of life hidden in Christ, to which we have access through his death and resurrection.

That abundance is available to everyone here, today, at the altar. Here, the bread and wine are not multiplied, but rather become the source of abundance itself, the body and blood of Christ shed for us, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet in which all may buy without money and without price, the true bread which is good and rich food.

It is through this Sacramental sharing in Christ’s death that we also fully share in his Transfiguration and in his Resurrection.

Through this Sacrament, we are fortified in our journey into God, into the heavenly banquet.

It is this foretaste of the heavenly banquet, present on the altar and in our hearts, which propels us towards the sharing food and money, time and resources, to care for those who suffer

I am not saying that the Eucharist makes us better people, although the Grace we receive in it might indeed do this.

Rather, as Christ dwells in us through the Eucharist, so we become other Christs. We no longer serve through guilt, shame, or desperation, but through love for others made in Christ’s image.

We serve others not because it is a duty, but through the compassion of Christ infused in us, as the presence of Christ helps us to see the glory of God already present to us.

In this way, the miracle of the Feeding of the five thousand is not simply a nice story, but a real event which continues today, at the altar, and each day, in the lives of those who are fed by Christ.

So eat what is good, delight yourselves in rich food, and pray that, as you share in Christ’s Transfiguration, you may also be agents of that Transfiguration in the world, to the Glory of God and the coming of the Kingdom.

By Dr. Christopher Dingwall-Jones
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Featuring art songs and opera arias, as well as piano solos, with Norman E.Brown (baritone) and Peter Shepherd (piano).

Free entrance and all welcome.
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Recital in St Peter's: An evening with Norman E Brown and Peter

September 6, 2017, 6:00pm - September 6, 2017, 7:00pm

Featuring art songs and opera arias, as well as piano solos, with Norman E.Brown (baritone) and Peter Shepherd (piano). Free entrance and all welcome.

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Online Giving


St Mark’s does not receive funding from the Church of England, the Diocese or the Italian Government. We rely solely on the kind giving of our members and donations from those who use our premises.

A suggested weekly offering of €10 is needed to maintain our provision. You may give online by visiting our donate page, in our weekly collection on Sunday, or via paypal.

Thank you for your support.

St Mark’s Blog

Events Calendar

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Fri 18

Chaplain Consultation time

August 18 @ 5:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Fri 18

BCP Mass

August 18 @ 6:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Sun 20

Sung High Mass

August 20 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am

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For services and what's on, please download our weekly pew sheet

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William Lister

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