In Perugia, the Church of St. Francis (Chiesa di San Francesco al Prato) appeared in the 13th century, thanks to the Franciscan monks. It should be noted that the neighboring city of Assisi was the birthplace of St. Francis and there is a religious building of the same name with many frescoes, including the work of Giotto.
There is a legend that the inhabitants of Perugia wanted to steal the body of Francis from their neighbors and bury the saint on his land, so that he would become the heavenly patron of the city, but the undertaking failed. One of his disciples managed to bury the saint in a secret place, but Perugia was not left without patrons. It is believed that saints Lavrentiy, Constantius and Herculafle watch over her.
Construction and history
It is assumed that the construction in Perugia of a church dedicated to St. Francis began in 1253. The religious building was erected behind the old Etruscan wall of the city, but soon (in the 14th century) it turned out to be in the center of Perugia.
Initially, the building was not very stable. To solve the problem of possible collapse, at the end of the 14th century 4 chapels were built here. But this did not save the situation much.
Only in the 15th century, and more precisely in 1421, when the city was ruled by the lord Braccio da Montone, who also ruled Rome at one time, buttresses were built here, finally increasing the stability of the walls.
Artwork in the interior
The best time for the church of St. Francis in Perugia was the 15-16th century. In the 15th century, for example, the Gonfalon Chapel appeared here (the so-called medieval square banner, from below, usually decorated with ribbons). The church kept a gonfalon, which depicted the Madonna of Merciful. Wrote her Benedetto Bonfigli (Benedetto Bonfigli). This gonfalon, as legend has it, helped Perugia during epidemics and other difficult times. Now the canvas is transferred to the chapel of St. Bernardine (Oratorio di San Bernardino).
Also, due to the emergency condition of the church building, other significant works of art were also taken from it. For example, in the Vatican Pinakothek are the “Resurrection of Christ” by Perugino.
The Coronation of the Virgin Mary by the famous Raffaello Santi went there too. Another work of the same author - "Descent from the Cross" - moved to the Borghese Gallery in Rome. In the Louvre you can see "The Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine," authored by Domenico Alfani.
The facade of the church of St. Francis, which was in poor condition for quite some time, was reconstructed at the beginning of the 20th century. True, during the repair of 1926, several chapels were lost. In particular, the gonfalon chapel disappeared.
The building, like the Francis Church in Assisi, was badly damaged during the 1997 earthquake. You can see the church now only from the outside. But for visitors is available, located next to the chapel of St. Bernardine.