The illumination of medieval Assisi’s cathedral, basilicas and main square astounded visitors from all over Italy this year.
Let me show you a few of the gems of luminosity….and we’ll start with the 13th-c. Basilica di San Francesco, built to house the body of San Francesco (died in 1226), patron saint of all of Italy:
(and in another note, I’ll tell you about the creche scene you see above in the foreground..)
The blues in the illumination of the Cathedral of San Rufino – housing the body of San Rufino, 3rd-c.martyr and patron saint of Assisi – stood out magnificently when backdropped by the coal black night sky:
In the illuminated scene on the San Rufino facade, in 1223 at Christmastime, San Francesco asks his friend Giovanni to assist him in creating a “living manger scene” (presepe vivente) for the faithful in Greccio (northern Latium). The crib scene was thus born in Greccio and this year, Assisi celebrates the 800th anniversary of the event.
A short distance from San Rufino, the facade of the 13th-c. Basilica di Santa Chiara (housing the body of Saint Clare) is illuminated with another scene linked to Greccio and the first Nativity scene: Francesco receives Papal permission to create a Nativity scene representing the event of Bethelem.
Just to the left of the flying buttress, San Francesco kneels in prayer:
Heading from the Basilica di Santa Chiara, a short walk down streets dripping with white lights…..
…leads to Assisi’s main
…leads into Assisi’s main square, Piazza del Comune where the 1st-c. B.C. Roman temple to Minerva is flanked by medieval civic buildings and the towering 14th-c. campanile (bell tower):
Trumpeting angels encircled the fountain in the piazza:
The facade of the 11th-century Benedictine Church of San Pietro depicted the creation of the first “living manger” scene by San Francesco for the people of Greccio in 1223. Depicted is a scene recounted in St. Bonaventure’s late 13th-century biography of San Francesco: “A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Grecio….affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvellously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep.”
Medieval hill town gem, Assisi, astounds all year round.
But set your sites on taking in the Christmas magic one year.
Read hereabout the St. Bonaventure account of the Greccio first Nativity
See this video of the extraordinary crib scene in front of the Basilica di San Francesco (mentioned above)
See this video on an Assisi creche scene
Read about the Assisi/Greccio Christmas link
Read more about Christmastime in Assisi and illumination on thr churches in the past
Read about the “living manger” scenes presented in the Assisi area