The Church Rediscovered
Although it was rebuilt many times, the Church of San Francesco dates back to 1252, when it was first built over ancient Romanesque ruins. In 1806, the French retaliation terrorized the friars, who were in the abbey adjacent to the church. They were so frightened that they took all the works of art with them. This impoverished the church considerably. The damage continued in the subsequent years of the 1800s, when it became a prison, compromising the entire structure. In 1951, it was restored to its former glory. Today its Gothic portal has an ogival arch and decorations of Arab-Norman inspiration. Many of the decorations, including the Sun with a swastika, which is an ancient and unique symbol of eternity, embellish the main façade.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…?
Daniel, a companion of San Francesco, founded the church, along with the adjacent abbey of which we have few traces.
The important artistic elements
Despite its bare appearance, the Church of San Francesco houses works of great value. The High Altar, which dates back to the 17th century, has polychrome inlaid marble, and is one of the best demonstration of the Baroque period in Calabria. The triumphal arch is also noteworthy, and it is made of polychrome marble, a baroque work by Bonaventura Perna a friar from Gerace. Moreover, the Church is home to ancient funeral sarcophagi, unearthed by recent restoration works.