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The Church of San Frediano is located in the square of the homonymous name in Pisa. Since 1999 it has been the city’s university church. Its management has been entrusted to the Jesuit Fathers.
It was built in the 11th century and was originally dedicated to St Martin of Tours, a Roman bishop and soldier. Attached to the Church was also a hospital to receive pilgrims and the indigent. Both, Church and hospital, were run by the Camaldolese from 1076 until 1561, when the military Order of the Knights of St Stephen took over. It was during this period that the cross of the order was affixed to the façade, which was removed during a restoration in the second half of the 20th century.
Over the years, there have been many ‘managements’ and subsequent restoration and reconstruction works. The façade – as it appears today – is in fact the result of a restoration operation dating back to 1964. An operation that recovered the appearance it had between the 11th and 12th centuries, in the Romanesque-Pisan style. The bell tower is in an unusual backward position.
The interior has a basilica-like structure with three naves. The two minor naves open to eight side chapels. The first chapel on the right houses the baptismal font by Mario Bertini (1953). It is very unusual in that it is made of red porphyry. Also on the right side is the funeral monument of Giovanni Battista Ruschi (Ruschi has been a noble family well known in the city), professor of philosophy, medicine and anatomy in Pisa in the 17th century.
On either side of the apse are two other chapels: the one on the right is dedicated to St Paul the Apostle, while the one on the left to St Bridget of Sweden.
Also notable is the pipe organ built in 1910 by Agata-Tronci, a firm of Tuscan organ builders. It was originally intended for Livorno’s Jewish community, but was later granted to the Church in the mid-1950s.