The Basilica of Santa Chiara is regarded to be one of the oldest standing Gothic-Italian styled structure in Assisi. Characterised by pink and white stone from Mount Subasio it seems to illuminate in the soft sun of Assisi. The building was designed by Filippo da Campello in 1257 and consecrated in 1965. It stands in Piazza Santa Chiara over the pre-existing Church of San Giorgio in which the remains of Saint Francis were laid for 4 years after his death.
The facade of Santa Chiara Basilica is very simple. Two lions stand at the sides of the portal, and there is a rose window with concentric circles, as well as small columns in the middle of the facade. Inside the basilica, there are several frescoes from the school of Giotto.
The San Damiano crucifix that is sacred to Franciscans stands in the Chapel of the Crucifix (originally part of the Church of San Giorgio).
In 1257 the Poor Clares left San Damiano for San Giorgio, taking the original crucifix that spoke to Saint Francis with them. In Holy Week of 1957, it was placed on public view for the first time over the new altar in San Giorgio’s chapel in the Basilica of Santa Chiara of Assisi. The Poor Clares have carefully kept the Cross for over 700 years, and still guard it with great solicitude.
The crucifix that now hangs over the altar of the ancient church of San Damiano, under custody of the friars, is a copy.
In the front of The Basilica of Santa Chiara are relics, including the prayer book, embroidered shirt and cassock of Saint Francis. Here you will also find the cassock and cloak of Santa Chiara.
The crypt is reached via stairs in the nave. It was built between 1850 and 1872 and is now the resting place of Santa Chiara.
As she lay dying, St Clare spoke these words to her soul:
The One who created you has infused the Holy Spirit in you
and then guarded you as a mother does her littlest child.
(Process of Canonisation 11:3)
From Third Letter of St. Clare
Love Him totally who gave Himself totally for your love.