Students of all walks of life choose Florence as the setting for one of the most freeing experiences a 20-something may encounter—a semester abroad. This means opening themselves up to rich experiences and hidden pockets of Florence that they never knew existed. For many students, the English-speaking community at the Church of Santi Apostoli, nestled in Piazza del Limbo, is just that.
Lauren Freking, a student at Florence University of the Arts, attends Upper Room Florence, the parish’s youth group for university students.
“When I left America to begin my study abroad experience in Florence,” she said, “I didn’t know what to expect. By far the best thing to happen to me during my time here was discovering the community at Santi Apostoli. I found a home and a place of peace amidst the craziness of time spent traveling.”
Students from a variety of American universities like Penn State, University of San Diego, Florida State, and Benedictine College make up the English-speaking community at Santi Apostoli where they bond over their faith while so far from home.
Paul Seaton, a student from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who attended said, “One of the huge challenges that accompanies the study abroad experience is staying spiritually engaged.”
After finding Santi Apostoli, he said the community welcomed him with open arms and “their collective love for Christ, his Church, and his people.”
Father Scott Murphy, the chaplain of English speakers at Santi Apostoli and Legionary of Christ, works to maintain a welcoming space for prayer and fellowship. Every Tuesday night during the fall and spring semesters there are times of prayer followed by community dinners and other events for Upper Room Florence, which was inspired by the success of Upper Room Rome.
Upper Room Florence hosts street missions, movie screenings and guest speakers. This semester, Kate Capato, a missionary, dancer and teacher at Florence’s Sacred Arts School delivered an introduction of the late Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body—the way in which the human body speaks of the divine.
Expats and local families also come together to worship at the Church of Santi Apostoli. Monday through Saturday, the parish celebrates Mass in Italian and has adoration starting at 6 p.m. The parish celebrates Sunday Mass in English at 10:30 a.m. followed by the 11:30 a.m. Italian Mass.
“Having the opportunity to go to mass, adoration and confession each week really changes everything,” said Freking. “I’m so thankful for this church and community … Santi Apostoli was the changing factor that made Florence feel like a home to me.”
For information on Upper Room Florence events, refer to the Parish of Santi Apostoli English Speaking Community’s Facebook page, or send an email to Fr. Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the mailing list.