The church is located in the square in the north-east of the city center, close to the Hospital of the Innocents. A primitive church was founded in 1250 by the “Seven Holy Founders” of the Order of the Servants of Mary, Florentine nobles who, as a result of an apparition of the Virgin, had retired to a hermitage at Monte Senario, in Mugello, 18 km north of the city.
In 1252, according to a legend, the Servants of Mary wanted to paint the fresco of their Glorious Virgin by a painter named Bartolomeo, who put all his expertise to represent the scene. Despite several attempts, he was discouraged because he could not paint the face of the Virgin, then he fell into a strange drowsiness and awakening and by some miracle, the face appeared already painted like completed by an angel.
The fresco that in later times will give the name of the church, still preserved in the chapel of the Annunciation soon became the object of great veneration and deep devotion by the Florentines. In fact, in 1255 the City of Florence did draw a road, today’s Via dei Servi, which led to the gate of Santa Maria dei Servi, while the brothers were buying the land to create the Square. In the following century the church and the convent were included in the fourteenth-century walls.