FLORENCE: Dominicans to leave San Marco. Signs of the Times?

The last friar should turn off the lights.

It seems that the last four Dominicans left at the famous San Marco (where the Beato Angelico rooms are) are leaving, transferring their flag to Santa Maria Novella.

Thus, the centuries old convent will no longer be a place of religion, at least with the presence of Dominicans.  I can’t tell from my scan of the article whether or not the diocese would take over religious services there.  I suspect not.

The article in Italian is HERE. Sorry, no time to translate.

Some years ago an enterprising group of (mainly) American Benedictines revived the monastery in Norcia.  Now they are growing, the town is reviving, and they are making splendid beer and enriching the area with their work and their prayer.

I have been hearing great things about what the Dominicans are doing in the Eastern part of these USA.  Wouldn’t be great if a group of American Dominicans could revive San Marco in the heart of Florence?  If ever a city needed religion…


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  1. iPadre says:

    Very sad indeed.

    And yes, the eastern province of Dominicans are doing great things. A few of them help me out from time to time. Very bright and faithful men.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Dear Fr. Z., if American Dominicans are going to consider this, it must happen soon. Recent rules coming down from the EU are beginning to block the movements of orders and religious people in Europe. I talked to two African Carmelites this summer in Dublin who told me they use to be able to come to their own order in Ireland for two years, and now they can only come for two months.

    Also, the dioceses in Great Britain are no longer allowed to take seminarians from Africa (Nigeria has 700 last I heard), or Viet Name, or any other non-EU country, unless a boy already has an immediate family member resident in GB. Of course, there are very, very few men in seminaries in the EU.

    It is obvious to me that the movement of the international, one, holy, apostolice, Catholic Church, an institution which transcends boundaries, will be more and more forced not to allow the movement of Her members.

    We might be seeing the end of missionary movement in many countries.

    This could happen here as well.

    Italy may be an easier country to deal with in such matters. Let us pray that this country remains an open door for the movement of orders.

    We cannot take anything for granted in these times of growing anti-Catholicism and anti-religion.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    sorry for any errors- pray as I need an eye operation-ta

  4. Faith says:

    The Dominicans were evicted decades ago from the rooms that had Fra Angelico’s murals. The Italian Government took them over and they are a museum. The friars were restricted to a small priory, which sadly they currently had to leave.

  5. FraterPatricius says:

    The Dominicans are doing well in other parts of the US as well. Not in the quantity of the East, but the men in formation are of a high quality.

  6. Elizabeth D says:

    Wow. Go for it, Eastern Province Dominicans! That is a highly appropriate suggestion.

    There should be Dominicans to make known to those who visit the works of Fra Angelico, that there is still such a thing as a Dominican friar, and what is the Christian meaning of the beautiful art.

  7. Magpie says:

    Supertradmum, the great scandal is that both UK and Ireland opened the borders of the countries without the consent of the natives, to massive immigration from new Eastern European EU states so that the countries are now flooded with immigrants who take so many of the jobs. I know I was beaten for a graduate placement by a young Polish lady in my native Ireland. Would I get a job in Poland? No siree. Yet here employers are tripping over themselves to be ‘diverse’ and ‘inclusive’, all at the expense of native Irish and British peoples.

  8. Caesar says:

    Was this not the same monastery headed by Savonarola?

  9. Supertradmum says:

    Magpie, crazy and I am sorry. I could see the difference in my three trips to Ireland, but it is all part of the bail-out agreements.

  10. Magpie says:

    Supertradmum, it all happened long before the bailout. Ireland joined the EU and as part of that you have to have open borders and free movement of workers within the EU. I guess I’m just pointing out the sickness of mind of those who would open borders to the detriment of individual nations and their culture and well-being, versus the same people in power who would stop a few monks or nuns moving about. It doesn’t make sense.

  11. Eriugena says:

    Remember that “La Repubblica” is a very trendy, very communist, very anti-Catholic “newspaper”…

    After six hundred years, the Church and Monastery of St Mark’s in Florence is to close.
    Even the Dominican Friars have to make a spending review: the four still left will be transferred to Santa Maria Novella.
    It is all very well to talk about the economic crisis, but nobody expected that among its victims there would be one so illustrious. One which in the past had survived the attacks of its worst enemies, from Napoleon to the Kingdom of Italy, and which is now laid low by a spending review. This particular victim is a religious order, the Dominicans, whose provincial chapter (for so it is called, but actually its territory is the whole of Italy) recently decided to close the Monastery of St Mark’s and transfer the Fathers to Santa Maria Novella. This means that the church will have to close down and there will be no more religious ceremonies there except in special cases. The same is true for the library with its forty thousand books. To say nothing of the various cultural activities which have called so many prestigious guests to St Mark’s.

    This news has shaken not just the religious sphere, but also the cultural world in Florence. After almost six hundred uninterrupted years – the Church of St Mark’s in Cafaggio was entrusted to the Dominicans by Pope Eugene IV in 1435 – the community which gave life to the artistic genius of Fra Angelico and the prophetic power of Savonarola, in the cells where the “Holy Mayor” lived, must now leave something which was not just a Monastery but rather the very symbol of Florentine Renaissance humanism, as well as the church and the library, set up by Cosimo de’ Medici in 1444, the first public library of the Renaissance, and where Lorenzo de’ Medici met Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and Agnolo Poliziano. It is an inheritance which belongs to everyone, and not just do a religious order; although it would appear that the only thing weighing the religious order is how to rationalize its resources.

    The four Friars from St Mark’s will be sent to join those at Santa Maria Novella (at least for the minute, because they might later be transferred elsewhere), and this will be the only Dominican presence in Florence. At the moment nobody understands the real underlying reasons, not even the four Friars ‘struck’ by this decision. They were only told about it after it had been made, and nobody knows the full details, including when it is to happen (although it is expected to be some time very soon). The main theory explains it all in money terms, although the Order rents out shops in Florence and a farm in nearby Fiesole, and the Friars receive pensions, donations, offerings, and they have always been able to look after themselves. Another theory is that the Order is closing Monasteries to have ‘spare’ Friars to send to places where they are in short supply. However Rome, which has two communities like Florence, did not act in the same pungent way. Meantime, people are wondering what will happen to the cells (except those which are part of the St Mark’s Museum, run by Florence City Council, which will not be affected) and other areas such as the cloister and the religious cemetery, which could only be visited by appointment in the past. Nor is it clear what the church, given Rectory status by the Archbishop but still formally a Parish, is expected to do with its parishioners. From the benches inside the church, the rumour now on the internet is that the people of Florence do not want to accept any of this. The word is that they are preparing a letter to send to the Dominican Father General, who is the only person who can reverse any such decisions.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    People in the States do not understand how poor the Church is in Europe. People do not tithe, period. And, some of the old families which have given for years and years are dying out.

    The Church is becoming impoverished, and people complain, but do not help. Only the few, the remnant, give. I cannot understand this custom of putting a euro or a pound in the collection basket on Sunday instead of serious tithing. It is so sad.

    For example, the Ordinariate families in Great Britain are suffering terribly. In the meantime, people spend so much money on craziness, not thinking that they may not have access to either the sacraments or retreat houses.

  13. Sword40 says:

    well, I’m glad the eastern province Dominicans are doing great things but don’t forget the western province Dominican either.

  14. Gratias says:

    Sad signs of the times that Dominicans will walk away from their duty in a parish they ran since 1435.

    As for the Western Province of the O. P. In North America, they have four priests in Anchorage, Alaska. Three of these priests are among the few that have offered the Dominican (Latin) Mass in this Province. This suggests to me that if a Dominican wants to be ostracized to Alaska he can just offer the traditional Mass. By concentrating them there, the Provincial can easily reduce the spread of the traditional Dominican Mass (wich is very similar to the regular TLM). It would have been much better if the Archbishop of Florence and the Order of Preachers and started a Latin Dominican Mass in the soon to be abandoned San Marco convent parish. This would be the same mass that Fra Angelico enjoyed, and they could draw from the extra fully trained priests in Alaska. They would rather lose it than use it. Sad times indeed.

  15. StWinefride says:

    Eriugena: Thank you for the translation! Grazie!

  16. S.Armaticus says:

    The successful resolution to the problem of the Dominican community at San Marco will be included in the prayers of all Armaticii, young and old.

    Followup suggestion. In case Dominican’s can’t be found to repopulate the convent, there is always the Italian SSPX. They could do it in a heartbeat, and it could be considered an act in accordance with the spirit of VII Ecumenism. [No. they really couldn’t.] Finally, the ‘spirit of VII’ could be put to good use. It’s an idea. Besides, it’s just a question of time. You can invite me now, or invite me later. And the sooner we all recognize this inevitability, the more Catholic patrimony can save from the secular state.

    As an aside, it’s sad having to pay admission so that one can go into a European church to pray. Experienced this in Malta last year. Family wanted to pray in St. John’s Co-Cathedral, but since we missed the mass, we had to pay admission to enter the Church.

  17. Gratias,

    I’m not sure where you are getting your information. The Western Province has not only perpetually maintained the Dominican Rite of Mass but it is flourishing in our Province. We have a number of locations throughout our province (including our formation house and the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology) where it is regularly used. We, also offer a lot of supply work to communities in the Western US who prefer the older forms of the Western Rites. Heck, a practicum is offered for course credit to the brothers in formation at our School. There is no plot to ostracize friars to celebrate Mass according to the 1933 SOP Missale.

  18. Br. Gabriel is right: we do have the Dominican Rite in the Western Province, thanks in no small part to the younger friars. In fact, it is friars of the Western Province that have been getting the old books back into print, like the Dominican Rite altar boy manual.

    Only problem is, the Dominican Rite is still hundreds of miles away from my own part of the province. As much as I want to see Dominicans back in San Marco, I really want to see a priory in my town. So I vote we move San Marco to my town and fill it full of friars. Problem solved.

  19. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Supertradmum,

    I cannot understand this custom of putting a euro or a pound in the collection basket on Sunday instead of serious tithing.

    Church is financed in different countries in different ways… Tithing is, as far as I see, not part of actual Church law (which it once was). If the Church needs the money, she can always specify, by law, how much a Catholic must give to fulfil his 5th Church commandment.

    As an aside, where and as long as tithing is only custom and not law, I would consider a sermon aimed at instilling bad conscience into those who do not tithe as on the brink of an abuse.

    In the German-speaking countries and Italy, tithing is replaced by the Church tax. (The “otto per mille” is, in fact, meant to be a Church tax and largely used in this way. Indeed, I cannot think of many occasions where it would not be sinful to name anyone but the Church as beneficiary.)

    Dear @S. Armaticus,

    As an aside, it’s sad having to pay admission so that one can go into a European church to pray.

    It is. I do understand the rationale, though… these just get visited by tourists so much which, often, a rather negligeable religious motive; they are to pay their share. Anyway, as far as I know, it is only done in the great Churches much visited by tourists, with always many nice free-entry chapels in the immediate neighborhood.

    “At night” is more of a problem, Churches just close in the evening, and all of them. But I do understand that the sacristans want to get home for dinner.

  20. Imrahil says:

    which, often have

  21. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    Somebody put out a call to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer! It sounds like a match made in heaven.

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