St. Francis

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St. Rufino’s Cathedral – Assisi

Assisi - San Rufino
Assisi - St Rufino - PortalAssisi - St Rufino - Cappella del sacramento

Assisi’s most famous Saints, St. Francis and St. Clare, were baptized in the Cathedral of San Rufino.

The city’s Cathedral is the third church erected on the spot to contain the remains of St. Rufino. The Saint was martyred in 238 after he converted the city to Christianity.

The Cathedral was partly built on top of a Roman cistern; its construction started in 1140.

The exterior of the church still shows the original Umbrian Romanesque style in which it was built, while the interior were completely modified during the late Renaissance period.


The façade was built with stones from Monte Subasio. Assisi is located on its slopes.

Things to see

The Crypt located beneath the Cathedral is part of the previous Church built in 1030. The columns and the capitals are Roman remains as the sarcophagus with the myth of Diana that according to tradition contains St. Rufino’s vestiges.

The Cathedral houses also the Museo Capitolare that contains frescoes and parts of the pre-existing churches.

Santa Maria degli Angeli Basilica – Assisi

Assisi - St Maria degli Angeli
Assisi - St Maria degli Angeli - side viewAsissi - PorziuncolaAsisi - St Maria degli Angeli - fresco

The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli is located at the foot of the hill of Assisi. It was built in the late 16th century to enclose the Porziuncola, the 9th century little church where a young St. Francis understood his vocation and started the Franciscan movement.

The Basilica was built to better accommodate the vast number of pilgrims that every year were visiting the Porziuncola. It is the seventh largest Christian church; it was designed in a Mannerist style by two famous architects Galeazzo Alessi and Vignola.

In 1832 an earthquake partly destroyed the Basilica. The reconstruction initially remodeled the façade in a neoclassical style but later it was given back to its original pre-Baroque style.

Things to see

The church houses the Cappella Del Transito where St. Francis died in 1226. The chapel is decorated with frescoes and houses the Rope of St. Francis.

The Porziuncola (Little Portion) is decorated by artist from different ages. The sober interior is in a simple gothic style with frescoes. Ilario da Viterbo painted the outstanding six-part fresco located in the apse.

Right outside the Basilica is located the Rose Garden, the last remains of the woods where St. Francis and his friars lived.

St. Clare’s Basilica – Assisi

Assisi - St Clair Facade
Assisi - St Clair - side viewAssisi - St Clair - RosoneAssisi - St Clair  - interior

One of the most famous followers of St. Francis was St. Clare. This young and beautiful girl from a noble family was so inspired by Francis that she ran away from her home and family and dedicated her life to God. She became the founder of the monastic Order of Saint Clare that still counts thousands of members.  A beautiful basilica in Assisi is dedicated to her.

The construction of the Basilica of Saint Clare started in 1257 right after St. Clare canonization. The church is a perfect example of simple Gothic interior with frescoes and painting. Unfortunately many frescoes were lost during the 17th century, but it is still possible to admire some beautiful examples of 13th century frescoes by Giotto’s students.

Things to see

The Façade was built with the typical white and pink stone of Assisi. Its Campanile (bell tower) is the tallest in the city.

St. Clare’s body is on display in the Neo-Gothic crypt underneath the church. Right in front of the Basilica the terrace Piazza Santa Chiara offers a stunning view over the Umbra Valley.


St. Francis Basilica – Assisi

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Assisi - Basilica St Francis - Night viewAssisi - Basilica St FrancisAssisi - Basilica St Francis - Navata Chiesa Superiore

Immediately after the canonization of St. Francis in 1228 the construction of the Basilica was begun. The complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2000.

The Basilica is still one of the main places of pilgrimage in Italy.

Maestro Jacopo Tedesco, one of the most important architects of the time, designed the church. The style chosen is a perfect blend between Romanesque and Gothic styles.

Brother Elias of Cortona, one of the first followers of St. Francis, personally followed the construction.

The Basilica is composed of two Churches, The Upper and Lower ones, and a Crypt where the vestiges of the Saint are still preserved.

Things to see

The Churches are decorated with frescoes painted by some of the most famous artist of the period: Cimabue, Giotto, Piero Lorenzetti and in all probability Pietro Cavallini.

Right next to the Basilica there is the Franciscan monastery called the Sacro Convento. The friary is now house to a museum and a library. The museum offers collections of art’s works entirely donated by pilgrims while the library has a vast assortment of medieval codices.