The Basilica of San Frediano, which overlooks the square with the same name, dates back to the 6th century and is one of the oldest churches in Lucca. Initially dedicated to St. Vincent, the basilica later took the name of its founder and bishop of Lucca, San Frediano, whose remains lie in the crypt built in the second half of the 8th century.
Over time, the building has undergone numerous restorations. However, the medieval features of the church are still prominent today. The most striking feature of the basilica of San Frediano is a lavish mosaic, dating from the 13th century, which covers the façade. The mosaic depicts the ascension of Christ the Saviour with the apostles below, ascending to heaven carried by angels.
The interior of the church is divided into a nave and two aisles and two symmetric arches supported by columns. Among the many chapels and relics found inside, a few highlights include the chapel of St. Augustine crowned with frescoes by the painter Amico Aspertini (1474-1552), the chapel of the Tenta family whose tombstones and altar are the work of Jacopo della Quercia (circa 1374-1438), and the 12th century baptismal font, still in use today and located in the baptistery.
The chapel of St. Zita, a popular saint in Lucca, was built in the area of the cemetery where the saint was buried in 1278 and is of particular importance. The chapel underwent a complete renovation in the 17th century. It is adorned with several canvases depicting the life of the beloved saint, including a painting by Paolo Guidotti (1560-1629) representing St. Zita and the Poor, five paintings illustrating the Miracles of St. Zita by Francesco del Dyer (1645-1718) and the mummified body of the saint.
The famous procession of the Holy Cross, which takes place in Lucca every year on the evening of September 13, has as its starting point the Basilica of St. Frediano.