Assisi in Italy
Assisi is a small town located in the Umbria region of Italy with a population of only 25,000. The primary reason for visiting Assisi for many is the basilica of St. Francis which is of great religious importance to many Christians. Visitors to Assisi often remark about the tranquil and spiritual atmosphere that prevails in the town.
St Francis Basilica in Assisi
The basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is located on a hill on the outskirts of the centre of town. The hill is known as paradise hill to locals although before St. Francis came to be buried there it was known as hell hill because that is where criminals were taken to be hanged. The original structure of the basilica dates back to the 13th century although an earthquake in the region that occurred in 1997 made it necessary for some restoration works to be undertaken. The basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is divided into the lower and upper churches.
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis was the founder of the Franciscan order in Christianity which has millions of followers worldwide. St. Francis lived quite a normal, if not worldly life during his youth until he had a spiritual awakening that caused him to renounce worldly possessions and live for God. The three tenets of the teachings of St. Francis are poverty, chastity and obedience.
Lower church at St Francis’ Basilica in Assisi
The Lower Church at St. Francis’ Basilica contains the actual crypt where the body of St. Francis is buried. Although access to the crypt is available, the area is quite small and can get crowded very quickly. Next door there is also a relics hall where certain relics believed to have been the personal possessions of St. Francis are kept. These include his clothes and sandals. In the main hall of the lower church are four frescos painted on the wall all depicting St. Francis.
Upper Church at St Francis’ Basilica in Assisi
The Upper Church was also built in the 13th century although slightly later than the Lower Church. The artistic highlight of this section of St. Francis’ Basilica is the grand 28 scene fresco painted on the walls. The scenes are all taken from the bible and were designed to be a source of biblical education to the masses who would have been illiterate at that time.