Assisi and Santa Maria degli Angeli

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Morning in Assisi – visit to the “seraphic ” city of St. Francis

Basilica of San Francesco : Worldwide celebrated , full of immeasurable treasures of art, the birthplace of St. Francis, Assisi is one of the gems of art of Umbria and Italy . The centuries have not ruined its typical medieval features , and it now appears as a real urban city, enriched with palaces and churches on which stands the imposing bulk of the Basilica of St. Francis over all.

The Lower Basilica : Two years after the death of St. Francis the construction of the Basilica of San Francesco began and , more precisely, of what we now call the Lower Basilica . Its shape has a Lombard Romanesque style with a single nave and a large transept .Since 1930 in the Lower Basilica the mortal St. Francis remains are looked after. Currently the body of the saint is preserved in the small crypt under the main altar of the Basilica . In addition to the four corners of the crypt , the bodies of Friars of the Blessed Angelo , Leo, Rufino and Masseo were placed .
The Basilica is beautifully decorated with frescoes attributed to Giotto , Cimabue , or their students. Also in the Lower Basilica you can visit the beautiful room that houses the relics of St. Francis , a small but significant collection of objects belonging to the Holy and ” The Museum of the Treasury .” The earthquake of September 1997 damaged the Lower Basilica much less than the crypt which contains the tomb of St. Francis.

The Upper Basilica : The realization of the Upper Basilica of Assisi is a direct consequence of the influence he had on the Order succession in 1239, to Brother Elias of new French fathers. Above the Roman form of the Lower Basilica is built a new basilica in Gothic style. The Upper Basilica aimed at official meetings and can accommodate, sitting on the throne reserved for him , even the Pope. The Basilica of San Francesco was officially inaugurated by Pope Innocent IV in 1253.
The Lower and Upper Basilica are connected to each other through a staircase set on the left transept . After the architectural realisation followed the fresco decorations by Cimabue and Giotto, then the beginning of the wide cycle of paintings “The Stories of St. Francis” , consisting of 28 works . These frescoes are added to those performed on the transept and nave on the right representing the cycles of the New and the Old Testament, done by several “Masters” of the time. They also complete the monumental work of the frescoes on the vaults of the nave and transept .

The crypt, the tomb of the saint : Two stairs , halfway up the nave of the lower church, are leading to the crypt , discovered in 1818 , in which the remains of St. Francis were brought there by Brother Elias . The current position of the room, was implemented by the architect Ugo Tarchi , between 1926 and 1932 . Behind the altar there is the urn which preserves the remains of the saint. On the walls of the small room , protected by grates ,there are four followers’bodies of Francis , the blessed Rufino , Leo, Masseo and Angelo.

Afternoon: Santa Maria degli Angeli

The town takes its name from the sixteenth century basilica , which dominates the whole plain on foot to Assisi. In 576, l it was built near a small chapel by the Benedictine monks of the Monastery of San Benedetto of Monte Subasio. In 1000 , the area was known by the name of Cerreto di Porziuncle , because of the presence of a large wooded area . The chapel was restored by St. Francis in the twelfth century , who died there in 1226 and since then it has been identified with the name of the Portiuncula Chapel . The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli , with a view from the church yard . The church then joined a convent and some small speakers. In 1216 , St. Francis received a vision in which Jesus stated that anyone who had visited the church , duly confessed and communicated, would have received the forgiveness of their sins. Honorius III approved this indulgence , and looked in on 1 and 2 August every year, the Day of Forgiveness , which continues to this day to draw a large number of religious tourists . In the second half of the sixteenth century , Pope Pius V did raise a mighty basilica , designed by Galeazzo Alessi , a “mo de riparo “(as a shelter ) for the little Portiuncula , which has now become a crowded place of pilgrimage. The Portiuncula is looked from the main nave of basilica.