St Mark’s Chaplaincy in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna
Our churches in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, and the people associated with them, constitute the chaplaincy. In many ways, this is simply another word for a parish, but technically, it means that rather than serving a specific geographical area, we serve the people who come to us – the ‘gathered community’ that we create through our mission, outreach and visibility in this region. Many members of our congregations travel long distances from where they live to be a part of our fellowship and many are here for a very short time. We serve a very mobile community and our provision is very open, welcoming and responsive to changing circumstances.
This is our Mission Statement:
Walking in the light of Christ, the Chaplaincy of St Mark’s Florence and Holy Cross, Bologna, works constructively and inclusively together, as two places of Christian excellence and witness, in common with other Ministries of the Universal Church, for and with any people who find themselves in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna.
Our Mission Statement helps us as we focus on three principal groups of English-speakers: ex-patriots (of any English-speaking nation), students (or those staying here for extended periods) and tourists. This is not an exclusive list by any means, and we are very much engaged with the local Italian and ecumenical community in the cities of Florence and Bologna, but it helps us to direct our energy to the needs of so many who gather here.
Restoration and Development for the Future
The heritage that has been given to us in this Chaplaincy can sometimes appear overwhelming because although we hope everyone can benefit from the resources we manage, there also comes with it the huge responsibility of good stewardship. Our buildings, and their contents, are enormous community assets which are used extensively, but they require constant maintenance and development for both current and future needs.
Our fundraising is ongoing and the objectives are to enable our Mission Statement. By 2021 (the 140th anniversary of the opening of St Mark’s Florence) we hope to have set our Chaplaincy on a sure footing for the next 140 years.
In terms of the buildings, the connection in Florence with the 19th-century pre-Raphaelite has meant that we have a most beautifully-decorated church in via Maggio, one which is arguably unique in the history of art. However, the flood of 1966 caused a great deal of damage that has never been properly addressed, and subsequent problems with water have only made this worse. The stencilling is a treasure, but one that is incredibly difficult and expensive to restore. The visual impact of our church has its own ministry: it has inspired generations and is a vital part of our future.
Access and Inclusion
We are also deeply conscious that more needs to be done in terms of accessibility for the disabled. Sixteenth-century structures like via Maggio 16/18, are not ones that easily accommodate these needs. An elevator at St Mark’s is essential if we are to enable those who cannot use our (beautiful) staircases or doorways to have a full part in our activities. As a listed and historic building, however, finding a solution to these needs is both complicated and expensive.
Finally. . .
There is a long standing tradition of British people supporting the Anglican church in Florence. Might you be able to play a part in safeguarding the future of St Mark’s? If you would like to know more about our vision for the future or feel that you can in some way help then please get in touch with the Chaplaincy office.