#ARTMOMENT: Fountain for the Faithful

Medeci Fountain

Outside the walls of Assisi, and down the hill, lies a beautiful little chapel which was one of St. Francis’ favorites. He had rebuilt it with his own hands, like many others in the area. Around 1211 the small chapel and surrounding area was given to Francis by the abbot of Saint Benedict of Monte Subasio on condition of making it the mother house of the new Franciscan Order. This little “Portion of Land” (La Porziuncola) was to become one of St. Francis’ most treasured places, and when he knew he was dying, he asked to be brought there.

After his death, the little chapel on the little portion of land attracted so many pilgrims that a larger church (actually, basilica) was built over it, and a long fountain was built on one side of the church to provide cool drinking water to those waiting in line. The fountain was donated in 1610 by Cosimo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany and decorated with his family’s (the Medici) coat of arms.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

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#ARTMOMENT: Festa di Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia

Every December 13th, Italy (and the rest of Europe) celebrates the feast day of Saint Lucy. She died in 304 A.D. during Winter Solstice when Italy was still using the Julian calendar, and because of this people say “Santa Lucia, il giorno più corto che ci sia” (Saint Lucy, the shortest day there is).

In southern Italy the saint brings gifts to children while the grandmother prepares a special dessert of wheat and hot chocolate, consumed only during that time of year. In the rest of the country the saint rides on her donkey distributing sweets, the children leave carrots for the animal. Across Europe, especially in Scandinavia, the saint is loved and celebrated in many different ways. #saintlucia

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Assisi is the City of Peace

Francis Feast Day

The small town of Assisi is the “City of Peace.” Millions of people from around the world make a pilgrimage here to honor the life and teachings of St. Francis, one of the patron saints of Italy. After sundown on October 3, 1226, St. Francis died. That night is marked by medieval drumming, flag-throwing, and fire. A solemn procession is held in nearby Santa Maria, and sacred oil from one of Italy’s regions is brought to light his tomb in the Basilica.

The following day Masses are held in Santa Maria and in the Basilica in Assisi, his final resting place. Finally, on the 5th, a large market is held on the streets of Assisi.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Jews Saved in Assisi

Printing Press

Shana Tova! This is the beginning of the Jewish New Year, #RoshHashanah. During the Nazi Occupation of Italy, Assisi established an underground network to protect several hundred Jews who were in danger of being deported by Nazis. Churches, monasteries and convents of Assisi served as a safe haven, while the local printing press was used secretly at night to print papers of transit. Not a single refugee was captured in Assisi.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

 

#ARTMOMENT: Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust Day

In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, medals of honor were given to the families of Henry Fiorucci and Marsilio Traversini for the suffering they received during WWII. The ceremony was held in Assisi’s “Museum of Memory” Palace.

During World War II, including approximately 300 Jews were hidden in the city’s convents, monasteries and private homes. Not one Jewish person — protected in Assisi through a network managed by the local bishop — was deported to a concentration camp.

You can read more here, “Following Francis’ Footsteps: How Assisi Protected Jews During World War II.”

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Lago Trasimeno

Lago Trasimeno

Sunset over Lake Trasimeno, known as the “Lake of Perugia.” In prehistoric times, this lake extended almost to Perugia.

In 217 B.C., Hannibal won a major victory over the Roman army at the Lake. In the prelude to the battle, Hannibal also achieved the earliest known example of a strategic turning movement.

Around 1211, St Francis of Assisi lived 40 days on the major island in the middle of the Lake as a hermit during Lent.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.