About Sanctuary of La Verna
The Sanctuary of La Verna (Santuario della Verna) is a monastery closely associated with the Christian Saint Francis of Assisi, who is said to have received stigmata on the mount where it is located. Located on Mount Penna, an isolated mountain situated in the centre of the Tuscan Apennines, the Sanctuary of La Verna is an important place of pilgrimage and contains a museum about Saint Francis.
History of Sanctuary of La Verna
According to Christian legend, a local count, Orlando of Chiusi, was so impressed with St Francis that he gave him the mountain of La Verna as a place of contemplation, prayer, and solitude in from 1216-18. Initially, a few small cells were built along with the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
During his stay at La Verna, St. Francis asked God to allow him to participate with all his being in the Passion of Christ. After this, a crucified seraph appeared to him and he received stigmata in 1224, after which it was decided that a monastery should be built.
The monastery was partially destroyed by fire in the fifteenth century, and was also desecrated during a war in the same year.
It was later restored. These restorations were extensive, taking three centuries . In 1810 and 1866 the friars were temporarily expelled following the suppression of religious orders.
Sanctuary of La Verna Today
Today, a number of buildings at the site are popular pilgrimage destinations. The Chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli, built in 1216 by St Francis, features paintings dating to 1877 by Florentine painter Ferdinand Folchi.
The Quadrant is the square with a view over the valley. In front of the square is the portico of the Major Basilica, which was finished in 1536 but completely rebuilt after the Second World War.
The most impressive building is the Basilica Major, which was started in 1348 and completed in 1509. Shaped as a Latin cross with a single nave and vaulted ceilings, the interior is decorated with images as well as relics within the chapel of the relics. The corridor and chapel of the stigmata – which is where St Francis is said to have received his stigmata – are also popular sites.
For those who wish to enjoy the stunning outdoor scenery, the Forest Monumental de La Verna has been preserved by the Franciscan Friars, who aim to maintain harmony between man and nature in its conservation. There is a wealth of plant species as well as deer, fallow deer, roe deer, and wild boar, as well as wolves and a range of birds, including eagles, owls, and peregrine falcons.
Getting to Sanctuary of La Verna
From the centre of Florence, the Sanctuary of La Verna is reachable in around 2 hours by car via the A1/E35 roads.