The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi (St Francis), the mother church of the Franciscan Order, is a World Heritage Site in Assisi, Italy. The Franciscan monastery and the lower and upper church of St Francis were begun immediately after his canonization in 1228. Simone di Pucciarello donated the land for the church, a hill at the west side of Assisi, known as "Hill of Hell" (because here criminals were put to death). Today, this hill is aptly called "Hill of Paradise".
The foundation stone was laid by Pope Gregory IX on 17 July 1228, although construction may already have been begun. This impressive church was designed and supervised by brother Elia Bombardone, one of the first followers of St. Francis and the former provincial minister of Syria. The lower basilica was finished in 1230.
In 1997 Assisi was hit by an earthquake. The Basilica was badly damaged (part of the vault collapsed, carrying with it a fresco by Cimabue), and was closed for two years for restoration.
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