One of the biggest Christian shrines on this planet, the Basilica of St. Francis is visited by a vast number of pilgrims all year long. It’s the burial place of St. Francis, and constructing work started two years after the saint’s demise in 1226. Over the next century, its Upper and Lower church buildings had been adorned by the foremost artists of the day, amongst them Cimabue, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, and Giotto, whose frescoes on the Life of St. Francis are among the many most famous in Italy.
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
The highly revered St. Francis was born in Assisi in 1182 to a wealthy household. Throughout his mid-20s, he decided to reject his family’s wealth and live a lifetime of poverty, chastity, meditation, and prayer. He taken care of the sick and prolonged his care to birds and animals. His humble spirituality quickly attracted quite a few followers and he established a religious order, the Friars Minor, in 1209. The order was orally acknowledged by Pope Innocent III. The same year, and in 1223, it was formally confirmed by Pope Honorius III. A Franciscan order of nuns, the Poor Clares, was based in 1215. St. Francis died in Assisi in 1226 and was canonized two years later. He was made the patron saint of Italy in 1939.
In 1997, two sturdy earthquakes hit Umbria, leaving eleven individuals dead and 1000’s homeless. Numerous centuries-old buildings had been additionally badly damaged. The eastern part of the province was probably the most affected, with the basilica in Assisi struggling with the worst structural upheaval. Painstaking restoration followed, and the church reopened to the general public in November 1999.
The work of the good Tuscan architect and artist Giotto di Bondone is usually seen as the inspirational start line for Western painting. He broke away from the ornate, however extremely formalized, Byzantine model to visualise naturalness and human feelings, inserting three-dimensional figures in convincing settings.