Cross of the Column of Saint Zenobius

Sala del Paradiso
Original location
Piazza San Giovanni
Marble, sandstone

14th-century sandstone Cross of Saint Zenobius, originally on the top of the column dedicated to the saint in Piazza San Giovanni, near the north door of the Baptistery. The 9th century bishop of Florence, Andrea, decided to move the relics of Saint Zenobius – his predecessor between the 4th and 5th centuries - from the Basilica of San Lorenzo to the Cathedral in 429. En route the remains of the holy bishop caused an elm near the north door of the Baptistery to flower, despite it being the depths of winter. The miraculous event was commemorated by a column on the site, topped in 1338 by a sandstone cross. A simple, elegant work with decorative foliage on the arms and a delicate floral central pattern. It served as a testimony of faith, a religious symbol and a useful landmark between the Archbishop's palace, closer in those days, Piazza San Giovanni and the Baptistery. According to the medieval chronicler Giovanni Villani, the terrible flood of 1333 swept the original column away to its destruction. A new one was built the following year. The current cross on the column in the square is a copy.

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Sala del Paradiso