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Porziuncola Square, 1 Santa Maria degli Angeli (Perugia) - ITALY



Porziuncola, kept inside the basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, is exquisitely decorated by artists from different periods. On the façade, above the entrance outside, is a fresco by Johann Friedrich Overback (1829), depicting St Francis receiving from the Christ and the Virgin the indulgence, known as the “Pardon of Assisi”. The German painter Overbeck was a member of the Nazarene movement, a group of painters who aimed to revive honesty and spirituality in Christian art. At the base of this fresco is a small rectangular fresco beneath which are the Latin words Haec est porta vitae aeternae("This is the gate to eternal life"). The outside wall to the right of the entrance shows fragments of two frescoes by unknown Umbrian artists. In the 19th century a door was opened in the same wall, to control the flow of pilgrims. At the back, above the entrance, is the fresco Crucifixion by Perugino, painted around 1485. It was badly damaged during the construction of the basilica. The 15th century door is decorated with floral motifs. On top of the Porziuncola stands a small Gothic belfry. The interior is austere and simple. Some of the rough, squared stones, taken from Mount Subasio, were put in place by the saint himself while repairing this little church. It is decorated in a simple Gothic style with frescoes from the 14th and the 15th century. But the masterpiece is the altarpiece in the apse of this little church, painted by the priest Ilario da Viterbo (1393). The pavement on the floor is now restored to its original appearance by the restorations following the earthquake of 1997
Porziuncola, also called Portiuncula (in Latin), is a small church located within the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels. According to a legend the little chapel of Porziuncola was erected in the fourth century and it was dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels. The chapel was located on a small portion of land ("Portiuncula") belonging to the Order of Saint Benedict of Monte Subasio. Later it was in bad condition, lying abandoned in a wood of oak trees.After a mystical vision of Jesus Christ in the wayside chapel of San Damiano in which the Icon of Christ Crucified came alive and said to him three times, "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house", the Poor Man of Assisi restructured this church and built a small hut near the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels and was soon joined by others. Around 1211 the small chapel was given to Francis by the abbot of Saint Benedict of Monte Subasio on condition of making it the mother house of his religious family. On Palm Sunday 1211 St. Francis received in this church Clare of Assisi and founded the Second Franciscan Order, the Poor Lady . Adjoining this humble sanctuary the first Franciscan convent was formed by the erection of a few small huts or cells of wattle, straw, and mud, and enclosed by a hedge. Feeling his end approaching, St. Francis asked to be brought back to the Porziuncola in September 1226. He died, in his cell, not fifteen yards from the church, at sunset on Saturday, 3 October 1226. The buildings which had been gradually added to the shrine were taken down by order of Pope Pius V(1566–1572), except the cell in which St. Francis had died, and were replaced by a large basilica in Baroque style. The new edifice was erected over the cell just mentioned and over the Portiuncula chapel, which is situated immediately under the cupola. The basilica, built between 1569 and 1679, is dedicated to Saint Mary of the Angels.
The Porziuncola, cradle of Franciscanism, offers itself as an ideal place for interreligious dialogue, first of all among the three major strands of the Abrahamic monotheism called today to overcome the tiredness, to have courage rather than fear. The courage, in the first place, to "look inward" with a polished look, the courage to make a tiring adjustment of its old traditions to the needs of the contemporary world. The Jewish world, the Christian world and the Muslim world have assumed deep plural connotations over the centuries. An intense "three-way dialogue" can create precious opportunities to make these pluralities as many riches, putting them to fruition in a common commitment to study solutions for the fundamental problems of contemporary humanity. There are many themes that it is essential to face with the contribution of everyone, non-believers and believers in different faiths: not only Jews, Christians and Muslims, but also Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians and those seeking the way to find happiness.
The history of Francis' relations with the Catholic Church has been characterized by the continuous search, on the part of the Saint of Assisi, to remain in the bed of the Church. Francis, in fact, considered his mission in the Church's heart to be his principal work, and therefore with his word and example he studied to reform the Church according to the simplicity and evangelical sincerity. In order to achieve this goal, he did not strike the path of criticism and polemics, but he set out on the way of the example, showing, through his life, all the purity of the Gospel. The Franciscan movement responded to a vital need of the Church, the need for constant reform, the need for continuous purification (ecclesia purificanda) and, unlike other pauperistic movements, it always wanted to proceed in the context and in agreement with the Church which, for Francis, is the only source of discipline and doctrine, the center of all religious life. This concept was continually reiterated in the short writings of the Saint. On the other hand, Francis hastened from 1210 to submit to Innocent III the arduous rule of life elaborated for his very first companions.
Direct visit with local guides

Virtual visit using videos proposed in media resources

Classroom activity (pre- and post-visit)
Artistic itinerary: detailed information on the works of art of the church and on the Chapel of the Transito of St. Francis
Vision of the film Francesco di Liliana Cavagni (1989)
Activity of verification of the acquired knowledge and skills.



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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.