The Church of San Francesco D’Assisi in Gaeta
In 1222 St Francis of Assisi founded a monastery on Gaeta’s Monte Orland0. The earliest church of San Francesco in Gaeta was built later on the present site, funded by King Charles II of Anjou. The main church was completed in the 14th century. The structure was remodelled sereval times over the passing of centuries.
Following the invasion of Napoleon’s troops and the repression of religious orders, the church of San Francesco was closed in 1809 and fell into a state of disrepair. Some years later, during a time of revolution Pope Pius IX was forced to flee Rome disguised as an ordinary priest. He was granted asylum in the castle of Gaeta, between 1848 and 1850, by the Bourbon King Ferdinand II. On the behest of the Pope, between 1854 and 1858 the church underwent major restoration by Giacomo Guarinelli in an Italian Neo Gothic style. The church was repaired in 1927 and entrusted to the religious order of the Salesians of Don Bosco who founded the Oratorio di Don Bosco. Here they remained until 1998 when the church was closed due to structural faults. It has undergone extensive renovation during recent years.
The Facade of the Church of San Francesco
A steep wide staircase and latticed balustrade leads up to the main entrance which is decorated with intricately carved stonework.
Below the stained glass rose window is a statue of St Francis. There are also statues of St Bernard, St Ambrose, St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas.
On either side of the entrance there are statues of Charles II of Anjou, to the left, and the Bourbon King Ferdinand II, to the right.
There is also the statue of The Religion by Luigi Persico (1853) which represents a woman holding up a cross.
Being situated at an elevated position the church has a magnificent view of the Medieval Quarter of Gaeta.
The Interior of the Church of San Francesco
The interior is lofty and light and has three naves. It is decorated with intricate stucco-work.
The interior of the Church of San Francesco in Gaeta is lofty and filled with light. The church has three aisles divided by 5 pointed arches. The main altar is in a Gothic style. The church houses several works of art, including paintings depicting “The Assumption” (1573) by Girolamo Imparato, “The Rest on the Flight into Egypt” (sec. XVII) by Francesco Solimera, “The Circumcision” and “The Adoration of the Magi” (sec. XVI), “The Three Marys” and “The Crucifixion” (XIX century).
The left side of the church leads to a building that was the site of the convent. Here there is a 14th century cloister and an oratorio.
The Church of San Francesco is located in Via San Giovanni Bosco.
It is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 17.00 to 19.00.