Assisi, the Manger of a Radical New Message

March 1, 2010 / Art & Archaeology
Assisi, Umbria

Sausages300The thirteenth-century city of Assisi sits on hill in the region of Umbria to the west of Mount Subasio. Internationally known for its spiritual significance—it was here where the Franciscan Order was born—the entire city is also protected by UNESCO as part of the world’s cultural heritage.

Sacred for religious reasons, it is also important, historically speaking, for its artistic and architectural influence. This is due in part to the message of peace, simplicity, ecology, and tolerance at the heart of Saint Francis’ doctrine, later communicated and spread by his many followers.

Night-View300Passing through the narrow streets lined with stone buildings, two churches immediately arrest the visitor’s attention: the Romanesque Basilica of St. Francis with mystical charm—it is possible to visit his tomb in the crypt—and the Church of Saint Chiara, adorned on the exterior with striped buttresses. In a side chapel inside the Basilica, hangs the famous cross of Saint Damian. It is reported that Saint Francis received his vocation praying before it. In the main nave, colorful frescoes by Giotto depict scenes from the life of this courageous man who chose poverty and charity as a means to teach Christ’s mercy.

by Alejandra Fabris

— Contributed by Alejandra Fabris, writer, American University of Rome Senior, Italian Notebook Editorial Intern.

5 Responses to “Assisi, the Manger of a Radical New Message”

  1. Assisi is such a beautiful little town – and as you’ve captured in your picture, the countryside near there can be just breathtaking on a clear day! Thanks for the post!

  2. Beautiful photography! We loved Assisi – and could see if from our garden in Perugia, lit as if from within, on Mount Subasio in the distance. Visitors should wander its charming streets and, if possible, climb to the castle above the city and enjoy the view. We were lucky enough to be at the March for Peace a few years ago. You should soon seen this post here!

  3. Joe Annechino

    As a grad of Siena College (N.Y.), Assisi was always a prioity to see when in Italy. What I wasn’t expecting however, was my total inability to leave the pew once I knelt and gazed at Francis’ crypt.
    It remains the most mysterious and enduring religious experience in my adult life.

  4. Rita Mantone

    I am drawn to Francis’ crypt also. I love to walk around it and spend time with St. Franacis and his four companions who are also buried with their Seraphic Father!

  5. Nisha Gill

    My profound experience occured in 2005 on my first visit to Italy, in the beautiful little chapel witin the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, outside of Asissi. I believe San Damiano also captures the simplicity and mysticism of San Francesco, but I have yet to go there.
    How can anyone beat the universal applicability of the line “It is in giving that we receive”……?


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