San Cristino Church of Mercy (Portoferraio)

Seat of the brotherhood of the same name, it houses the relics of San Cristino, to whom the church is entitled . In the single nave, where there was a statue of the “Madonna with Child” attributed to Tino da Camaino, now in the Napoleonic Museum, dominates the marble altar with the eighteenth-century canvas of the “Madonna della Misericordia”. The vault was frescoed in 1765 with the “trompe l’oeil” of a balustrade on which a loggia ending in a false dome is set. The 1850 organ is by Michelangelo Paoli. In a cabinet there is a bronze copy of Napoleon’s mask and the cast of the hand. In 1746 a chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Loreto was opened next to the church to house the statue of the Madonna from the Linguella chapel.

San Cristino, patron saint of Portoferraio

In 65 during the persecution of Nero, San Cristino was martyred, in 1661 the “holy body” was found in the catacomb of Priscilla. The portoferraiese Antonio Vai, belonging to the Confraternity of Mercy, who went by chance to Rome, asked Pope Alexander VII to grant him a ‘holy body’.
The Pontiff satisfied the pious wish and donated the precious relic of S. Cristino to the community of Portoferraio.

Patron of the City of Portoferraio

San Cristino martyr is the patron saint of the city of Portoferraio, whose relics – “holy body” – are preserved and venerated in the church belonging to the Confraternity of Mercy.

The sacred deposit arrived in Portoferrario on April 29, the day which became a patronal feast for the community of Portoferraio . In 1764 Pope Clement XIII accepted the request for the election of San Cristino as patron saint of Portoferrario; in fact the S. Congregation of Rites on 7 April 1764 granted to the feast of S. Cristino, on 29 April, all the privileges concerning the feasts of the main Protectors. With date 9 August 1764, the decree received the approval of the Emperor Francesco I.

On the occasion of the celebrations for the saint, the crypt is generally opened where the relics of San Cristino are kept, and these are exhibited in the church of the archconfraternity and subsequently transferred to the Duomo . Following a religious function and the procession in the streets of the historic center of Portoferraio to bring the urn containing the relics of the Saint back to the church of the Misericordia from whose churchyard the blessing of the city takes place.


Celebrations for the Patron Saint of the City of Portoferraio

Curiosity: near the church of San Cristino, the former Franciscan convent of S. Salvatore

It is said that a friar on the island from 1563 was buried in the area: “Fra Battista”, the church was not yet finished, (it is not specified which church, the chapel of San Cristino and the former convent are adjacent), and the friars buried him, near the Franciscan Convent of S. Salvatore. In that place lived a Captain of the Grand Ducal Militia who complained to the Guardian of the stench that according to his servants sent the body and gave the order to reopen the tomb and remove the body and bury it elsewhere. In the presence of the friars and the Captain, excavations immediately began on the tomb of Fra Battista; but as soon as two or three hoes were given, a smell so sweet spread around that the Captain himself asked the friars to leave intact the tomb of a man so holy as to spread the scent of his sanctity even when dead.

The sixteenth-century chronicler who has handed down to us the story of the life and burial of Fra Battista with a historical-legendary flavor like the Fiorettis, reports other details of the Convent of S. Salvatore or, as they said at the time, of the Place of Portoferraio.

How to reach Church of San Cristino or della Misericordia

To reach the Church of San Cristino, we must head inside the historic center of Portoferraio , after crossing Porta a Mare we head uphill Napoleon to reach the church.

Location Church of San Cristino or della Misericordia