The Basilica of Santo Spirito is governed by the Italian Province of the Order of Saint Augustine through the Community of Florence.
The Order of Saint Augustine was born in Italy and developed there. The Generalate is in Rome, as is the seat of the Provincial Council on which the Augustinian Community of Florence depends.
History of the Augustinian Community of Florence
In 1250 Spinello Accolti and Omodeo di Guido, sold to the Aldobrandino friar, an Augustinian and prior of the Convent of S. Matteo in Lepore in Arcetri, a house, land and vineyards; the property was located in the area of the current S. Spirito district. The Augustinians immediately became, with their oratory and the square in front of them, an important point of reference, not only religious but also cultural, for the population. But the church was not yet built. Only in 1269 were the first payments made for the building. Already in 1292, the convent complex (different from the current one) and the square were enlarged.
The S. Spirito complex, from its inception (on 28 August 1397, the feast of S. Agostino, it was decided to build a church for the hermit friars of S. Agostino; a job that lasted several years because building began in 1434), is part of a direct relationship with Florence, its events, its history, and culture. The Augustinian Order, legally born in Tuscany in 1256, had a great strength and enthusiasm in spreading the spiritual patrimony of St. Augustine. Within about thirty years, the Augustinians of S. Spirito managed to bring their foundation to the forefront of the Order and to present themselves to the political and literary reality of the time. Santo Spirito has contacts with Petrarch and Boccaccio. Inside the convent there are figures of great importance, such as Dionigi da Borgo San Sepolcro (whom on 14 April 2012 the Municipal Library was dedicated to), was the first to know Petrarch, the father of Humanism, and taught at the University of Paris and was a friend of Robert King of Naples. The king wanted Dionigi in Naples, where he also met the young Boccaccio, who will always call him: “the reverend my father and lord master Dionigi”. Between Petrarch and Dionigi, it was not only a superficial relationship and external knowledge, but the Augustinian Order had a strong influence on the poet’s spirit through St. Augustine, whom Diongi had given his Confessions.
Petrarch also has contacts with the Augustinian Luigi Marsili, a very learned man, with a “humanistic” profile. Marsili collected up Petrarch’s spiritual heritage. Petrarch would love his culture and would venerate his person; in his letters he will in fact call him “my lord”.
The work of the Augustinians, and in particular of Marsili, fits into a civil context and an inner convictionthat wants to go beyond a scholastic technicality of the traditional ecclesiastical and religious schools to open up to new but ancient sources, to a new type of teaching and school that brings culture into the secular and civil world.
Source: Elena Capretti, Guide of the Basilica of Santo Spirito, Basilica of Santo Spirito 2012