June 3, 2022

Today began with a bus ride from Rome to Assisi. We passed through a countryside of rolling hills, vineyards, and fields of corn and wheat. The hillsides were marked with old castles, ancient ruins, and rustic villages of the Umbrian region. It was a relaxing ride, and much needed after the bustling experiences of Rome! 

Our tour of Assisi began with walking through the “newest” city gate which is 600 years old! We walked through the 13th century section of town and approached the St. Clara Basilica. Legend says that St. Francis knelt before the crucifix in this basilica when he received a message from God to “rebuild His church.” Visiting St. Clara’s was a very holy and somber experience. The church has a strong presence of peace and love; the story of St. Clara is one of helping so many people in need. 

After visiting the crypt which houses St. Clara’s tomb we walked down the ancient city street to St. Francis Basilica. Along the way we passed a Roman Forum built in 45BC! The Roman temple was in surprisingly good shape compared to what we had seen in Rome, and it is a temple dedicated to the Virgin Mary. 

As you approach the impressive St. Francis Basilica, the sharp angles and white walls of the 13th century church are a beautiful contrast to the surrounding rolling hills of Umbria. There are two main levels of the church; the lower is dedicated to the life of Christ with fresco paintings by Andrea Bartoli; and the upper is dedicated to the life of St. Francis depicted in frescos by Giotto di Bondone. The paintings by Giotto are particularly important not only for telling the story of St. Francis, but because they link the flat Byzantine style of painting to the complex three-dimensional styles developed in Italian Renaissance art. Italy knows St. Francis as the patron saint of nature, and his legacy is one of love for God and for the people. Francis stressed the dual nature of Christ as God and human, which is represented by the dual doors at the entrance of the basilica.

Our day in Assisi was a rejuvenating and uplifting experience. The beautiful scenery, storied Christian lives, and ancient buildings left a wonderful impact on our group. 

– Logan Fish