San Marco without Franciscans?

September 26, 2018—The dazzling frescoes painted by Fra Angelico from 1438 to 1443 still adorn the interior walls of the Convent of San Marco today, one of the must-see stops for art lovers in Florence, Italy. But soon, it may be too dark to see them.

For almost 600 years, the convent was an active hub of the Dominican order of Catholicism, which espouses piety through poverty. Recently, the convent was told it will be “suppressed”—or shuttered—thanks to a shortage of clergy and shrinking budgets. The four remaining friars will relocate to the convent of Santa Maria Novella across town. And what will become of San Marco, which is in fact state owned? Some are hoping to keep it open through divine intervention from a human surrogate: Pope Francis.

Image credit: Elisabetta Povoledo/The New York Times

News source: Elisabetta Povoledo, “What Happens to a Hub of Renaissance Florence When the Friars Move Out?,” The New York Times, September 25, 2018