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Assisi and the Basilica of St. Francis

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Perugia, Italy.

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The enchantingly beautiful medieval town of Assisi, in the hills of Umbria, is best known as the birthplace of St. Francis. Yet long before the time of Francis, Assisi was already a holy place. Legends say the town grew around an Etruscan healing spring, which in the 1st century BC became the site of a temple dedicated to Minerva, the Roman goddess of art and handicrafts. During early Christian times the temple of Minerva, which still stands today, was used as a church and the ancient sacred spring stopped flowing.

Francis, who lived from 1182 to 1226 AD, was the son of a prosperous Assisi merchant. In his youth he had dreams of achieving wealth but abandoned these worldly ambitions at the age of nineteen while a prisoner of war in nearby Perugia. He thereafter became a mystic who experienced numerous visions of Christ and Mary, composed poems about the beauties of nature, and founded the order of monks known as the Franciscans. His repudiation of the worldliness and hypocrisy of the church, his love of nature, and his humble character earned him a devoted following throughout Europe. Francis was the first known Christian to receive the stigmata, the spontaneously appearing wounds on the hands, feet and side of the body corresponding to the torments of Christ on the cross.

The Basilica of San Francesco was built between 1228 and 1253. By the 1400's pilgrims were flocking to Assisi from all parts of Europe and today the basilica is one of the most visited of Christian shrines. Certain holy places have a distinct feeling or presence of peace. Assisi is one of these places. The entire town and particularly the Basilica have a definite atmosphere of peacefulness which awakens and stimulates that same characteristic in the human heart.

Assisi on the Sacred Sites Website.

Written by  Martin Gray.

Other expert and press reviews

“Assisi, the Basilica of San Francesco and Other Franciscan Sites”

'Assisi, a medieval city built on a hill, is the birthplace of Saint Francis, closely associated with the work of the Franciscan Order. Its medieval art masterpieces, such as the Basilica of San Francesco and paintings by Cimabue, Pietro Lorenzetti, Sim… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO

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