Umbria Franciscan Itinerary: La Verna – Assisi

This is an excerpt from the book “Umbria

La Verna
La Verna – Photo © Enrico Massetti

La Verna and Montecasale (in Tuscany) have a great importance in the life of Saint Francis.

In those very places he performed prodigious miracles. They are places of remarkable natural beauty, the Hermitage of La Verna in particular, which is built on a natural precipice, offering breathtaking views in which everything conspires to create an extremely elevated spiritual atmosphere.

The itinerary continues passing through Citta’ di Castello, where you can visit the Church of S.Francesco, and then goes on as far as Umbertide with the Church of S.Francesco (currently being restored), S.Bernardino (currently being restored), S.Croce (now converted into a Museum) and finally the Convent of S.Maria della Pieta’.

In Gubbio it is well worthwhile visiting the Churches of S.Francesco, S.Francesco della Pace, S.Maria della Vittoria and lastly the Sanctuary of S.Ubaldo. The itinerary concludes with the town where St. Francis was born: Assisi.

The tour of the town could start from the Basilica di S.Maria degli Angeli, which contains the Porziuncola and the Chapel of the Transit. Having reached the center of Assisi, you can visit: the small Church of S.Damiano, the Chiesa Nuova (New Church), the Oratory of S.Francesco Piccolino, the Cathedral of S.Rufino, the Church of S.Maria Maggiore, the Basilica of S.Chiara and the Basilicas of S.Francesco. A short distance from the walls of Assisi, on Mount Subasio, it is possible to visit the Eremo delle Carceri, where St. Francis used to retire to pray.

Gubbio – Photo © Michele Tortioli – proprietà Regione Umbria

The principal stages of the itinerary

Hermitage of La Verna Chiusi
Hermitage of the Cells Cortona
Hermitage of Montecasale Sansepolcro
Church of San Francesco Citta’ di Castello
Church of San Francesco Umbertide
Convent and church of S. Maria della Pieta’ Umbertide
Church of San Bernardino Umbertide
Church of S. Croce now Museum of Santa Croce Umbertide
Church of S. Francesco Gubbio
Church of S. Francesco della Pace Gubbio
Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria Gubbio
Sanctuary of S. Ubaldo Gubbio
Basilica of San Francesco Assisi
Church of San Damiano Assisi
Basilica of Santa Chiara Assisi
Basilica of S. Maria degli Angeli Assisi
Cathedral of S. Rufino Assisi
Chiesa Nuova (New Church) Assisi
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore Assisi
Eremo delle Carceri Assisi
Church of Rivotorto Assisi

La Verna
La Verna – Photo © Enrico Massetti

Hermitage of La Verna – (Chiusi)

Immediately after Assisi, La Verna is the place most closely associated with St. Francis. The mountain was given to him by Orlando Catani count of Chiusi in 1213, and the Saint stayed there often and on the last occasion in August 1224 received the stigmata there.

After the original small cells made of wood and shrubs, the walls underwent considerable development, either jointly or separately, in the 14th and 15th centuries, conferring on the environment the aspect of a village situated in the wood, perched on the rocky spur.

The Chapel of the greeting of the birds halfway along the ancient cobbled path lies near the spot where the saint quenched the thirst of a mountain dweller who was accompanying him and accepted his advice.

The small church of S. Maria degli Angeli, much desired by St. Francis, initiated by count Orlando and enlarged in 1260, is decorated with marquetry and three Robbian reredorses, including the Annunciation, the Nativity,the Ascension and the Assumption by Andrea della Robbia and the Crucifixion by Luca and Andrea della Robbia, and precious reliquaries including the blood which dripped from the saint’s stigmata.

In addition we find a presbytery (in Christian basilicas the part reserved for the bishop and the clergy), an altar in Baroque style in polychrome marbles, an inlaid choir, an organ, and an outside open gallery on two sides with ancient inscriptions.

We then pass into the Piazzale del Quadrante, where we can admire a breathtaking view of the mountains and valleys, which gives access to the Sasso Spicco, an inexplicably balanced rock, and the Cappella del Faggio (Chapel of the Beech), with the stone of the apparition of Jesus and the Cappella dell’Acqua Santa (Chapel of the Holy Water).

The first stretch of the open gallery flanking the mountain contains a Robbian terracotta, biographical frescoes of St. Francis and a deep hollow which he used as a bed. These are followed by the Cappella del Crocifisso, the Cappella di S. Antonio, the Cappella di S. Bonaventura, the Cappella del Palco and the hollowed-out cave of the devil on the overhanging rock.

End of the excerpt from the book “Umbria

Hermitage The Cells - Cortona
Hermitage The Cells – Cortona – Photo ©

Hermitage of the Cells – (Cortona)

Hermitage of Montecasale
Hermitage of Montecasale – Photo © RD_Elsie

Hermitage of Montecasale – (Sansepolcro)

Citta' di Castello
Citta’ di Castello – Photo ©

Church of San Francesco – (Citta’ di Castello)

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