Santuario di S. Francesco di Paola
Italia - Calabria - CS - Paola
Architectural and ecclesiastical heritage
The sanctuary is located in a secluded site chosen by Saint Francis because suitable to lead his ascetic and contemplative life, and where a small church dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi has been soon built. Then, the current Gothic style sanctuary dedicated to Santa Maria degli Angeli has been built and incorporated into the existing building. The exterior of the church is characterized by a sumptuous 16th century façade containing Baroque elements. It is made of tuffaceous stone and consists of two superimposed orders. The lower order is composed of four columns crowned by Doric capitals and of a central fornix; the upper one is framed by fluted pilaster strips with composite capitals and has a large balcony with a central round arch. On top of the façade is a niche embellished with Baroque friezes hosting the statue of the patron saint with the Franciscan coat of arms. The pronaos, enriched by numerous gravestones, is the connection point of the entire building and the entrance to the cloister, the hermitage of the Saint and the mother church. The latter, dedicated to the Marian cult, has a large splayed stone portal with small protruding columns topped by a frescoed lunette depicting Saints Francis of Assisi and of Paola kneeling at the feet of the Virgin. The interior of the Basilica is characterized by a nave and tall stained glass windows culminating in cross vaults with thin intradosses. The walls are devoid of decoration save for the presbytery wall that is decorated with a fresco representing Madonna degli Angeli. Four chapels located in the right side aisle contain frescoes depicting the life of the Saint from Paola and tombstones. At the bottom of the side aisle there is the fifth chapel that houses the Holy Relics of Saint Francis of Paola and is dedicated to Him. On the altar stands out a diptych with Saint Francis of Paola on canvas on one side and Saint Francis of Assisi on wood on the other. On the left wall we can see a 17th century chiseled silver bust, incased in a finely decorated shrine. The pronaos, therefore, is the entryway to the cloister and places associated with Saint Francis. The first order of the cloister is characterized by cross vaults, ogival arcades and Romanesque capitals. The second one, features windows alternate with blind round arches. The cloister is decorated with frescoes narrating stories and miracles of Saint Francis, dating back to the 17th century. The places where Francis lived as a hermit can be visited through a path that allows visitors to relive the ambience where the miracles performed by him happened. A peculiar corridor, called “Corridoio dei padri” leads into the library, with a wooden ceiling decorated with Old Testament scenes. Finally, of particular importance is the new basilica in contemporary style, inaugurated in 2000.
Galleria fotografica

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