This is an excerpt from the book “Umbria“
La Verna and Montecasale (in Tuscany) have a great importance in the life of Saint Francis.
Among the scenes placed around the Annunciation narrating various episodes in the life of the Little Friar, is the one of the Saint throwing himself naked among the thorns when he was prey to temptation.
In front of the Porziuncola is the Chapel of the Transit, where St. Francis died on 3rd October 1226.
In addition to the Saint’s dwelling place, there is the Chapel of the Weeping, an oratory with a simple, bare interior, typical of Franciscan humility. It is the oldest construction around the Porziuncola.
In the Basilica, beneath the presbytery, the new crypt was built (1968) by incorporating the old dwelling places of the friars minor that came to light in 1966. Behind the high altar in the crypt is the splendid terracotta executed by Andrea Della Robbia in around 1490, depicting various events in the life of Saint Francis.
Adjacent to the Basilica is the four-sided Holy Convent of the Porziuncola, the first Church of the Franciscan order. The building is decorated with numerous frescos representing various episodes in the life of the Saint. Near the entrance to the cloister there is a depiction of Saint Francis receiving the stigmata (fresco by an anonymous 18th-century artist). Providoni is the name of the artist who executed the 38 frescos in the cloister showing episodes in the life of St. Francis.
Of great historical interest is the well-stocked library housed in the convent (circa 100,000 volumes) and the archive of the friars minor of Umbria. Near the Porziuncola is the Museum, containing precious church ornaments and other objects. picture gallery exhibiting numerous paintings, including a panel attributed to the “Maestro di S. Francesco” with a portrait of Saint Francis (13th century). This is considered to be a true relic because the Saint’s body was lain on the boards that constitute its support. There is another Saint Francis as well, probably to be attributed to Cimabue.
Cathedral of S.Rufino-(Assisi)
From Piazza del Comune, Via San Rufino leads up to a rectangular piazza on which the Cathedral of S. Rufino stands. The building of the church started in around 1140 to a design by Giovanni of Gubbio. Its consecration took place in 1253 and was performed by Innocent IV.
The Cathedral houses the relics of St. Ruphinus, bishop of Assisi, who was martyred in 238. The facade is divided into three areas: in the bottom area splendid bas-reliefs decorate the three portals. Of considerable interest is the lunette with Christ enthroned between the sun and the moon, with St. Ruphinus and the Virgin suckling her Son. The middle area of the facade is decorated with three rose windows; the most important is the one in the center, surrounded by the symbols of the four Evangelists.
The upper area has a central gable that was probably intended to accommodate a mosaic. There is a building beside the bell-tower, where the house of St. Clare once stood. At the beginning of the right-hand aisle is the Baptismal Font made out of a granite column. It was here that St. Francis (in 1182) and St. Clare (in 1193) and their followers in Assisi were baptised. Opening off the right-hand aisle is the “Chapel of the Sacrament” (begun in 1541 and extended in 1663), in baroque taste, with polychrome marbles and stuccoes and canvases representing the theme of the “Eucharist”.
Also worthy of note is the statue representing the Little Friar of Assisi, executed by the sculptor Duprè. The right-hand side of the apse gives access to the Oratory of S. Francesco below, a place where the Saint used to retire to pray before preaching in the Cathedral.
End of the excerpt from the book “Umbria“
Chiesa Nuova (New Church)-(Assisi)
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore – (Assisi)
Eremo delle Carceri – (Assisi)
Church of Rivotorto – (Assisi)
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