Basilica di Santa Chiara, Assisi

Basilica in Assisi

Basilica Di Santa Chiara, Piazza Santa Chiara, Assisi
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Fczarnowski

Consecrated in 1265, this basilica serves as the final resting place of Saint Clare, a devout companion of Saint Francis and the founder of Franciscan nuns. Born into privilege in 1182, her deeply religious upbringing led her to reject her family’s wealth and two marriage proposals at just 17, choosing instead to join Francis in a life of simplicity. Symbolically, she cut off her blonde hair and traded her luxurious attire for a humble cassock. Although Clare and Francis went their separate ways after a year, their spiritual connection endured until his passing.

The basilica occupies the former site of the San Giorgio church, where Francis received his education and later achieved sainthood. While its facade is modest, adorned with a splendid rose window, its architectural integrity was challenged, leading to the addition of unique buttresses in 1351 to prevent collapse.

Inside, the ambiance is subdued and stark, a result of early censorship efforts. In the 17th century, Bishop Spader of Germany ordered the removal of frescoes, fearing moral corruption. Fragments of original Sienese frescoes from the San Giorgio church have endured, particularly in the transepts and above the main altar.

Of particular note are depictions of the “Apocalypse” and the “Life of Christ” in the south transept, likely crafted by a collaborator of Giotto. A sizable 13th-century Crucifix hangs above the main altar, surrounded by scenes from Saint Clare’s life. Meanwhile, episodes from “Genesis” adorn the north transept.

The Oratorio del Crocifisso chapel houses the Byzantine Crucifix that reputedly spoke to Francis, urging him to “Repair my Church.” This chapel also contains relics associated with both Clare and Francis. Clare’s remains are interred in the Baroque crypt, accessible via a hidden passageway.

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Visiting Basilica di Santa Chiara, Assisi

Address: Basilica di Santa Chiara, Piazza Santa Chiara, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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