Parish church of Santa Maria a Coeli Aula

Parish church of Santa Maria a Coeli Aula

One of the oldest religious complexes in Montespertoli

Located on the crest of the hills that separate the Virginio and Orme valleys, the Parish of Coeli Aula has very ancient origins, since it is already mentioned in documents of the 9th and 10th centuries dealing with the alienation of farms located in its territory: in March of 893, Sichelmo, son of Martino, donated lands from the parish of Ciliziavola to the Parish of Santa Maria a Monte and in 926 Rimbaldo, Bishop of Florence, rented some others.

Around the year 1000, the Cadolingi counts and the Badia Fiorentina also had possessions in the parish. Perhaps endowed by some of these entities, the parish, obviously already of adequate size, was enriched with a baptistery, built in front of it in 1093.During the 12th century, the connections with the episcopate became tighter. The bishop was entitled to “Homagium, vassallaggium atque dominium super fideles, vassallos et personas de Celi-Aula cum eorum territoris” and the parish priest held important positions in the Florentine Church, like Bernardo, bishop’s procurator on 2 March 1148.

The parish church of Cilicciaola was still in the list of the bishop’s tax payers when, in the summer of 1260, its rector Aldobrandino Benvenuti promised 15 sextarius of wheat to the Florentine army. The income was ensured by its eight supporting parishes: the rectory of San Bartolomeo a Martignana (1276) and the churches of Sant’Andrea a Botinaccio (1260), Santa Maria alla Leccia (1260), San Donato a Livizzano (1260), San Michele a Morzana (1260), San Michele a Quarantola (1260 ), San Michele a Spezzano (1296) and San Miniato a Urbana (1260).
Towards the end of the 13th century Santa Maria’s economic capacity was limited, since between 1276 and 1303 it paid only 10 liras per annum and on 27 April 1301, “proipsius plebis negotius expendendis pro utilitate ipse ipsius plebis”, was requested a loan to the bishop from the priest Rodolfo, treasurer of the chapter. Because of the low income, the number of priests decreased, so much so that in 1396 the parish priest Filippo Cavalcanti complained that “his plebes S.Marie de Celiaula ad presens patitur defectusclericorum perpetuorum”.

The church probably underwent few changes in modern times (in 1657 only the oratory “S. Ioannis prope Ecclesiam Plebanam (…) in quo est fons Baptismalis dictae Plebaniae” was mentioned, namely the ancient baptistery, also described by Baldinucci a few years later, until the complete reconstruction was decided. In 1708 the Company of the Sacred Cross had its own altar in the Pieve and in 1796 the bell tower already existed.

Perhaps during the people’s government the baptistery was dismantled and the marble inlays, with which the font was decorated, were transferred to the church and used in various ways. In 1888 a municipal engineer proposed the reconstruction of the monument, which had been rejected two years later, when the inspector Carocci had had all the tiles exhibited and a fifteenth-century fresco restored, just discovered and freed from superfetations.
Abandoned in the 1960s, the complex had been entrusted to the Scouts of Empoli (Eirene Association)


Parish church of Santa Maria a Coeli Aula
Via Coeliaula
50025 Montespertoli FI
+39 0571 921504

It can be visited upon reservation

In the heart of Tuscany