The church was founded in 1250 by the seven original members of the Servite Order. Pietro Sarto PDF 1252, a painting of the Annunciation had been begun by a friar Bartolomeo, commissioned by the Servite monks. It is said he despaired about being able to paint a virgin with a beautiful enough face, and fell asleep, only to find the painting completed.
This miracle he attributed to an angel. The facade of the church was added in 1601 by the architect Giovanni Battista Caccini, imitating the Renaissance-style of Brunelleschi’s facade of the Foundling Hospital, which defines the eastern side of the piazza. In 1516, a special atrium was built to house these figures, the Chiostrino dei Voti. By the late 18th century there were some six hundred of these images and they had become one of the city’s great tourist attractions.
In 1786, however, they were all melted down to make candles. Pope Alexander VI, in appreciation for the survival of Rome after French occupation, paid homage and gifted a silver effigy to the church. The Florentine brides traditionally visit the shrine to leave their bouquets. This church is entered from the Chiostrino dei Voti. The 1st chapel to right contains a Madonna in Glory by Jacopo da Empoli, with walls frescoed by Matteo Rosselli. Florence and the second oldest in Italy.