Every year in April the piazza in front of the church of San Frediano off Via Fillungo is filled with flowers in honour of Saint Zita, one of Lucca’s most important and loved saints. The church contains a shrine to Saint Zita and once a year her mumified body is brought from her usual resting place in her own chapel and placed in the centre of the church so she may be touched by her devout followers. She is in a glass case, so this is not quite as gruesome as it sounds.
Zita was born in a small village not far from Lucca. She was employed from the age of 12 as a domestic servant by a Lucchese family and each day she would give leftover bread to the poor. Despite problems with her fellow workers she perservered with her good deeds and eventually became head housekeeper and loved the family as if it was her own. She stayed with the family her whole life and died peacefully in her sleep at 60 years of age in 1278. Her body was exhumed in 1580 and was placed in the church. She was cannonised in 1696.
As well as the flowers in front of San Frediano, the old amphitheatre nearby is also filled with colourful plants to admire and buy. We go every year if we are here. This year we came home laden with geraniums and petunias for the balcony.