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The inferior Basilica of St. Francis

The construction of the Basilica of Saint Francis - or, more precisely, the construction of what today is called the Lower Basilica - started two years after the death of Saint Francis.

Its style is Romanic-Lombard, with a unique nave and a wide transept.

Friar Elia Coppi, the first successor of Saint Francis, supervised in person to its construction.

Basilica Inferiore di San Francesco ad Assisi
Basilica Inferiore di San Francesco ad Assisi

The mortal remains of Saint Francis have been kept in the Lower Basilica since 1230.

That of the sarchofagus which contained the Body of the Saint is an unhappy destiny: in fact, up to 1400 the remains of the Saint were exposed in a burial recess under the central altar so as to allow the faithful to venerate them.

Then the Body was concealed to prevent the near city of Perugia from stealing it.

And surely it was really concealed carefully because it has been hidden up to 1818.

At present the body of the Saint is kept in a small crypt under the central altar of the Basilica.

Basilica Inferiore di San Francesco ad Assisi
Basilica Inferiore di San Francesco ad Assisi

Moreover, the bodies of the Blessed Friars Angel, Leon, Masseo and Rufino have been laid in the four corners of the crypt; and, along the stair that from the Basilica leads to the crypt, there is also the body of Blessed Jacopa dei Settesoli, a Roman noblewoman, wife of Graziano Frangipani.

The Basilic is splendidly painted, with frescoes attributed to Giotto, Cimabue and some of their students.

In the Lower Basilica it is also possible to visit for free the splendid room with Saint Francis'relics; a small but significant collection of things belonged to the Saint; and - for pay - the "Museum of the Treasure".

La Basilica di San Francesco Basilica Inferiore di San Francesco ad Assisi

The earthquake of September 1997 damaged neither the Basilic nor the crypt with the tomb of Saint Francis.

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