The presence of Grey Friars in Lucca, in the area outside the walls, is documented as early as 1228. In the beginning they occupied the church of Santa Maria Maddalena, but soon restoration works and the construction of a new complex began. Soon, around the church and monastery, a conventual centre developed with the oratory of San Franceschetto (1309), three cloisters and some other minor buildings. The façade of the church is constructed with the large white and grey limestone ashlars arranged in parallel horizontal rows. The decoration of the church is quite simple, a characteristic of all conventual churches, with just a row of ornaments in the apse
that were originally occupied by terracotta bowls. In the course of the XIVth
centuries new presbyterial chapels were constructed according, so the saying goes, to the wishes of Paolo Guinigi, lord of Lucca. After the suppression of monastic orders in the Napoleonic period, the church was given back to the Grey Friars; in 1844 the building was restored, only to pass once again into public hands in 1868, when it was turned into a military depot. In 1902 the church was redeemed by the municipality of Lucca and returned to be a place of worship. The limestone coating of the upper part of the façade was completed in 1930.
Inside the church you can see XVth
century frescoes of Florentine school. On the sides of the main entrance are the sarcophagi of the Ricciardi and the Guidiccioni monument by V. Civitali.