Saint Damian

Vista della stradina di arrivo alla chiesa di San Damiano. La strada eè fiancheggiata da siepi, sullo sfondo è visibile la struttura.

In the Assisi plain and among the olive trees of the countryside, there is a place much beloved with reference to the Franciscan origins: the Shrine of Saint Damian. Here silence and peace reign, wonderfully framing the view on Nature all around. We actually know little about the origin of this structure, possibly built among the seventh and ninth centuries; and little, too, about the reasons why the church was dedicated to Saint Damian, a medical doctor and martyr whose relics had been taken to Rome in the mid-fifth century. We can anyway say for sure that the history of this very small church, then kept by an old priest, started to be in the limelight in 1205, when one day a 24-year-older called Francis stopped here to pray

Read more

The Porziuncola and Saint Mary of the Angels

Vista panoramica di Santa Maria degli Angeli. La struttura della chiesa, con il suo cupolone, si erge dalle campagne umbre e spicca dalla nebbia della piana in cui si trova.

Saint Francis of Assisi and the Porziuncola

The expanses below Assisi are among the most fascinating in Italy thanks to their colors and the view they afford on the town, which follows the contours of Mount Subasio in its white and rose stones. Precisely in this plain did blossom the life flowers of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. The young man, after restoring the Church of  Saint Damian, “moved to the place called Porziuncola, where an old church existed, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, now abandoned and forgotten. Seeing it in such a poor state, and also because he had great devotion toward the Mother of all goodness, the Saint made it his own home, and would finish to repair it in the third year after his conversion.” This is how  Thomas of Celano, Francis’ first biographer, reports the Saint’s coming to this “small portion of land” (that is the meaning of Porziuncola) in the plain.
Right around that abandoned little church, possibly built in the fourth century and now given the Saint by the Benedictine monks, the first Franciscan company was founded, a bunch of enthusiastic friends. According to G. K. Chesterton, this became “the home of many homeless men.”

Read more

The Basilica of Saint Francis

Vista panoramica della Basilica di San Francesco. La vista, frontale leggermente scorciata verso destra, della facciata della basilica superiore e del complesso circostante emerge dal verde degli alberi circostanti. Sullo sfondo le campagne umbre.

Saint Francis’ Legacy

When in 1226 Saint Francis of Assisi died at the age of 44, he was already very famous, and his movement – a true religious Order since 1223 – was followed by thousands of people. They immediately felt they had to build a basilica that may keep his remains, show his importance for all the faithful of that era, and preserve his memory. So, on July 15, 1228, Papa Gregorio IX – who had personally been a friend of Francis – declared him a Saint, and at the same time laid the first stone of the basilica on the hill just off the city of  Assisi, northward. No more than seven years later, in 1235, the building made of two superimposed churches and a big belfry had already been completed, basically as we still see them nowadays. The Basilica of Saint Francis is undoubtedly one of the most famous and most frequently visited churches all over the world. It unites, in fact, a deep religious significance in connection with Saint Francis, and an exceptional value in itself, both historical and artistic.

Read more

The Basilica of Saint Clare

Vista panoramica della Basilica di Santa Chiara ad Assisi. Dall'abitato spuntano l'imponente facciata della chiesa e il suo campanile. Sullo sfondo le campagne umbre.

Clare, and the Birth of the Second Franciscan Order

When Francis made his spogliazione (the act of stripping of his garments as well as, symbolically, all possessions) in the main square, Clare was little more than a baby. She belonged to a noble Assisi family, the Offreduccis, and was surrounded by the love of her sisters, besides the comforts of her social condition. Yet, she was conquered by Francis’ act: within her, now grew the seed of interest toward such men who, after leaving everything, lived by begging but also took care of the lepers in the area of the Porziuncola.

Read more