Basilica Our Lady of the Angels and Porziuncola

Basilica Our Lady of the Angels and Porziuncola
Basilica Our Lady of the Angels and Porziuncola
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On the hill of Assisi, in the center of Italy, we can find one of the most venerated places by the Franciscans in particular and by all Christians in general, since thousands of pilgrims travel there every year, La Basilica of Santa María de los Ángeles that has the particularity of being the only church that has another church inside, the well-known Porciúncula; the place where Saint Francis of Assisi himself left the material world to dedicate himself to the poor and where the origins of the Franciscan movement are found.

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According to legend, the origins of the small chapel of Porziuncola date back to the year 352 or 366 when the hermit monks of the Valley of Josaphat, together with the approval of Pope Liberius, created a small chapel to house somerelics of the Virgin Mary. At the beginning of the 13th century, the small church was given to Saint Francis so that he could found his mother church there, and despite the poor conditions it was in, he did so. The saint restored the temple with his own hands and following God's call he abandoned any material contemplation to dedicate his life to others.

After the saint's death in 1226, the monks built small buildings around Porziuncola, however, as the fame of Saint Francis increased, the place became too small to housethe growing number of pilgrims who wanted to get to know the mother house of the Franciscans. In this way and by express order of Pope Pius V in the middle of the 16th century all the constructions that had arisen around Porziuncola were demolished except this one and the cell where Saint Francis died, which today receives the name of the Chapel of Transit.

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A magnificent basilica was then built, the seventh largest building in Christendom by the hand of two great architects, Jacopo Vignola and Galeazzo Alessi who proposed a rectangular basilica with three naves, the central one wider than the lateral ones; with a transept marked on the ground plan and a very high dome in the transept area. The interior of the temple presents a dichotomy between the basilica itself, very simple and with hardly any type of decoration, and the side chapels, which are profusely decorated. Under a precious choir made of wood by the Franciscan monks themselves, we find the crypt of the basilica where the Chapel of Transit is located.

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