The church of San Francesco d’Assisi (St. Francis of Assisi), is a remarkable 13th century building of Palermo, which has preserved its original aspect despite many restorations and renovations made during the years.
It was built next to the Franciscan monastery of the city, built to house the religious order of Saint Francis.
The church has we know it, has been completed in 1277, after 22 years from its beginning. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the church went through many changes and renovations. The original wooden roof was replaced and the presbytery enlarged, changing completely its original aspect.
In 1943, during the Second World War, a bomb damaged the church, so new works became necessary.
This last renovation restored the original 13th century state of the church, and that’s how we can still admire it.
The facade is austere, but decorated with a large rose window and a beautiful Gothic portal. Inside the church are many works of art. The most noteworthy are made by Giacomo Serpotta and Antonello Gagini, two of the most famous Sicilian artists of the 16th and 17th century.
The side chapels house many remarkable sarcophagi and funerary stones (stelae). The fourth chapel on the left aisle, is the Mastrantonio Chapel (Cappella Mastrantonio) which is decorated with a fine portal made by Francesco Laurana, and it’s one of the first Renaissance artworks in Sicily.
The wooden choir behind the altar was built in 1520, next to it are three 17th century paintings, the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Mission.