Basilica di Santa Chiara (Basilica of St. Clare), Assisi

Basilica di Santa Chiara (Basilica of St. Clare), Assisi (must see)

Consecrated in 1265, this basilica is the final resting place of Saint Clare, Saint Francis's devoted companion and the founder of Franciscan nuns. Born into nobility in 1182, her deeply religious upbringing "backfired", leading her to forsake her family and two marriage proposals at the age of 17 in order to join Francis. In a symbolic gesture, the saint sheared off her blonde locks and replaced her finery with a simple cassock. Though she parted ways with Francis after a year, they remained spiritually connected until his death.

The basilica stands of the site of the former San Giorgio church, where Francis attended school and was later canonized. With a modest facade and a lavish rose window, it mirrors the Upper Church of the Basilica of Saint Francis; however, its engineering fell short, necessitating the addition of peculiar buttresses in 1351 to stave off collapse.

Inside, the atmosphere is dim and austere, a consequence of early censorship efforts. In the 17th century, Bishop Spader of Germany, fearing corruption, ordered the obliteration of its frescoes. Some fragments of earlier Sienese frescoes from the original San Giorgio have survived, mostly in the transepts and above the high altar.

Notable features include scenes from the "Apocalypse" and the "Life of Christ" in the south transept, likely the work of a collaborator of Giotto. Above the high altar, a large 13th-century Crucifix hangs, surrounded by scenes from the "Life of Saint Clare". Meanwhile, the north transept displays episodes from "Genesis".

The Oratorio del Crocifisso chapel houses the Byzantine Crucifix that allegedly spoke to Francis, telling him: "Repair my Church". It also contains relics belonging to Clare and Francis. Clare's body rests in the Baroque crypt hidden down a passageway.

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Basilica di Santa Chiara (Basilica of St. Clare) on Map

Sight Name: Basilica di Santa Chiara (Basilica of St. Clare)
Sight Location: Assisi, Italy (See walking tours in Assisi)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Assisi, Italy

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