Relive the life of St. Francis of Assisi by a visit to these twenty rural chapels


Il Sacro Monte on Lago d'Orta
Spend a Quiet Lakeside Day with St. Francis of Assisi

[Regions of Italy]

In the 16th century it was fashionable for very rich patrons to fund a secluded, preferably picturesque, rural location and erect several small chapels containing frescoes and life-sized statues depicting scenes from the Bible. Pilgrims would walk from chapel to chapel at sites such as this one, San Franceso in Orta San Giulio, on Lake Orta in Piedmont. It is entirely dedicated to scenes from the Life of St. Francis of Assisi.

Chapel One: Francis is born in a stable
Chapel One: Francis is born in a stable

 

Graffiti defaces Chapel Two, where Francis dons tattered rags received in exchange for his own fancy finery
Graffiti defaces Chapel Two, where Francis dons tattered
rags received in exchange for his own fancy finery

 

Chapel Three is a perfect example of classical architecture
Chapel Three is a perfect example of classical architecture

 

Townspeople rich and poor listen to Francis preach in Chapel Four
Townspeople rich and poor listen to Francis preach in Chapel Four

 

Sculptures and frescoes blend with each other in Chapel Five
Sculptures and frescoes blend with each other in Chapel Five

 

Light-hearted angels on the ceiling of Chapel Six contrast with the suffering humanity depicted in the statues below
Light-hearted angels on the ceiling of Chapel Six contrast with the suffering humanity depicted in the statues below

 

It has often been said that the man who painted the ethereal frescoes in Chapel Seven, Antonio Maria Crespi, might have gone on to great fame if he had not died of the plague at a young age
It has often been said that the man who painted the ethereal frescoes in Chapel Seven, Antonio Maria Crespi, might have gone on to great fame if he had not died of the plague at a young age

 

In Chapel Eight, Francis rides a chariot of fire drawn by two kicking steeds
In Chapel Eight, Francis rides a chariot of fire drawn by two kicking steeds

 

Francis's beloved Clare finally comes onto the scene in Chapel Nine. Having dedicated her life to simplicity and poverty, one wonders how she'd have reacted to this Baroque depiction of her in sumptuous red and blue robes
Francis's beloved Clare finally comes onto the scene in Chapel Nine. Having dedicated her life to simplicity and poverty, one wonders how she'd have reacted to this Baroque depiction of her in sumptuous red and blue robes

 

Jesus and Mary sit on a throne in Chapel Eleven. Out of sight, Francis kneels on the floor before them
Jesus and Mary sit on a throne in Chapel Eleven. Out of sight, Francis kneels on the floor before them

 

Chapel Thirteen is crammed with statues gawking at Francis as he stumbles through the streets half-naked
Chapel Thirteen is crammed with statues gawking at Francis as he stumbles through the streets half-naked

 

How different is the thoughtful attention of the Sultan of Egypt, who listens to Francis preaching in Chapel Fourteen
How different is the thoughtful attention of the Sultan of Egypt, who listens to Francis preaching in Chapel Fourteen

 

By the time Francis dies in Chapel Seventeen, we feel that we have lived his life with him, and if we are good pilgrims, we will take him home in our hearts forever
By the time Francis dies in Chapel Seventeen, we feel that we have lived his life with him, and if we are good pilgrims, we will take him home in our hearts forever