Basilica di San Francesco : Assisi

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“‘The Papal Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, was begun in 1228, two years after the saint’s death and is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor – commonly known as the Franciscan Order – in Assisi, the city where St Francis was born and died.  Over the next century its Upper and Lower Churches were decorated by the foremost artists of their day, among them Cimabue, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, Giotto and possibly Pietro Cavallini, whose frescoes on the Life of St Frances are some of the most renowned in Italy.  The Basilica is one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy.  With its  accompanying friary, the basilica is a distinctive landmark to those approaching Assisi.  It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.”‘

The town suffered serious damage during an earthquake of September 1997, but restoration was completed in about two years.

Our coach parked in the designated parking area, where we met up with our local tour guide.  From there we walked up to the Basilica .. it was quite a climb with the road snaking all the way.  For those who cannot walk the steep incline, there is ‘golf-cart’ type transport.

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Antonella and our local guide …

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Halfway up …

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… at last … we made it !

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Basilica di San Francesco taken from the Lower Plaza of St Francis ..

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Shelter was provided for pilgrims and their donkeys and horses (rings are visible for tethering the animals)

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Photography was not permitted inside the Basilica, hence many outside pics 🙂

The Lower Church is entered through a magnificent Gothic portal ..

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Of course, I had to touch the ancient stonework, before entering 🙂 As I’ve mentioned before, I love to really feel the history of ancient walls, pillars, doors etc.    I can connect that way.  We came down on the other side of these steps on our way out ..

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Pope Gregory IX laid the corner stone of the Basilica and the Friary of St Francis ( Sacro Convento) on 17th July, 1228  … courtyard of the Friary .. .

 

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Eyewitness Travel : Italy ..

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At last we were taken inside – firstly to the Lower Church.  Incredibly beautiful!!  I sat in awe!!   We sat in the pews while our guide whispered extremely softly.  No loud talking is allowed.   Most frescoes are well preserved, but others are not sadly.  A section of the church was cordoned off due to restoration … restorers painstakingly brushing/cleaning/restoring whilst on scaffolding – image from Internet

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(this is one of the side chapels off the Lower Church – built in 13th century to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims) – image  from Internet...

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We then descended to the crypt where St Francis is buried, which lies directly under the altar of the Lower Church ..  images from Internet

Copy of Assisi tomb[1]

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The Upper Church is an important early example of the Gothic style in Italy.  We were permitted to walk silently around the outside of the pews and admire the frescoes which tell the story of the life of St Francis   … image from Internet

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We exited through the doors under the large rose window …

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Tau cross and PAX (Peace) on lawn in front of the East door.     Statue of St Francis before he became a monk  – so the story goes … Francis had many dreams, one of them was to be a great knight and join the papal armies.  Setting off for Rome, he stopped off in Spoleto where he had another dream where go spoke to him and asked him what he was doing.  He needed to serve God, not the army.  He feared his ride back to Assisi and that his family would call him a coward for leaving the army and the prospect of great battles.  In this statue, the would-be knight sits slumped down in his saddle with head and shoulders drooping.  His depressed spirits echoed in the horse.

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Magnificent view from the Upper Church, overlooking the Lower Plaza with Umbria countryside beyond …

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Down the ancient steps to the Plaza.   Touching.  Feeling.  Making our way down, down, down to the bus park …

IMG_5818A quick glimpse of the Friary through the door …

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Not much time for browsing in the shops .. but I did do some …

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.. and I bought an olive wood Tau cross for me and pendants for the girls ..

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IMG_5836-Assisi IMG_5837

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A mammoth post !!!   my apologies … but I wanted to keep it altogether 😉   Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did putting it together

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Next post .. a short one I promise … a tiny, tiny church within a church (no photos permitted unfortunately) but I will share the larger church and see if I can find pics of the tiny, tiny church on Internet

Trafalgar Tours : Best of Italy : June 2013

About momsmeanderings

Wife ... mom ... granny .. in a nutshell ! Never a dull moment !
This entry was posted in art, church, countryside, gifts, Italy, street, travel. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Basilica di San Francesco : Assisi

  1. Its amazing the size of these places built back then. Its HUGE!!!!! I wouldn’t miss the shops myself. I like buying trinkets to remind me of places.

  2. mithriluna says:

    Oh my gosh – Assisi – one of my favorite places in the whole world. Stunning images. Terrific post. I keep looking at all your Italy posts. Love what I see so far. 🙂

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