How to visit the Basilica
We suggest that you start your visit from the Lower Square or Plaza. If you are coming from the John Paul II Parking Lot (Parcheggio di Giovanni Paul II) you will arrive at the Lower Square and from here you may enter the Basilica via Lower Church, visit the Tomb of St. Francis of Assisi and proceed to the Cloister of Sixtus IV and the Upper Church or Upper Basilica and exit to the Upper Square and from here visit the city of Assisi.
From the Lower Square or Plaza, the entire complex of Basilicas can be seen.
Along the portico, on the right looking at the Basilica, there is access by a staircase or elevator to a refreshment area and rest rooms or toilets which have been recently restructured:
- There is a large area where there are reproductions of the Uppers Basilica's beautiful frescos of Giotto are displayed telling the story of St. Francis and other multimedia tools available to groups who reserve the area with a Friar guide
- There are rests rooms or toilets
- And a space with tables where pilgrims may each their picnic lunch
A little farther on you will find:
- The Information Office for the registration of groups and for the distribution of radio and video guides. There are some books in several languages on sale here, useful for visiting the Basilica (you can find others in the religious Basilica Gift Shop
Ascending a little farther along, you will see:
- the entrance to the Sacro Convento at the Portineria (large doorway); and just to the right, the entrance to the lower church.
If you arrived on foot from afar as a pilgrim along the traditional routes, the caretaker at the Portineria will point out to you the "Statio Peregrinorum": an office for reception and registration, found in the inner courtyard.
The Basilica is formed of three churches one on top of the other: starting from the Crypt/Tomb Church, Lower Church and the Upper Church.
Enter the Lower Church through the gothic doors;
You will immediately see in front of you the Chapel of Saint Catherine of Egypt (Santa Caterina d'Egitto), which is reserved for prayer and where Eucharistic Celebration are scheduled during the day (see the summer and winter schedule). From this chapel to the left is the entrance to the Chapel for the Celebration of the Sacraments of Reconciliation (Confession).
If you desire a blessing for yourself or for a religious object, or you wish to request that a Mass be celebrated for yourself or someone else's intention, you will find a friar want to ask to celebrate a Mass according to your intentions, you will find a friar on the right as you enter the church who will be able to help you ... you will also find a friar willing to help you in the Tomb/Crypt Church and the Upper Church.
Along the central aisle or nave of the Lower Church you can admire the frescos and the side chapels dedicated (on the left) to St. Martin of Tours and the Immaculate Conception and (on the right) to St. Anthony of Padua and St. Mary Magdalene. Over the Main altar and in the transepts you will see the stupendous frescos of Giotto, Cimabue, and Pietro Lorenzetti.
At the very heart of the Basilica is the Crypt Church with Tomb of Saint Francis:
The staircases mid way through the nave of the Lower Church go to the Tomb.
A person in a wheelchair may ask at the porter's station how to get to the elevator in the Lower Cloister of Sixtus IV which goes to the Tomb.
We suggest you remain some time in silent prayer. During the summer the Crypt/Tomb Church is open every Friday and Saturday evening, from 9.00PM to 10.00PM for silent prayer.
You may also offer a candle that will be burnt during the day on the altar in front of the Tomb and also submit your written prayer requests in the special container behind the altar. These intentions will be part of the friars' prayer during the celebration of Mid Day Prayer each weekday at 12.30 PM and during the celebration of the Eucharist, especially during the Pilgrims' Mass at 6.00PM during the summer.
Return to the Lower Church and continue through the nave behind the main altar:
On the right, under the staircase, you will find a door leading to the Chapel of the Relics, where precious witnesses of the life of St. Francis are preserved.
The staircase on the left of the main altar leads up to the Cloister of Sixtus IV:
From the Cloister of Sixtus IV you can admire the outside of the Upper Basilica, as well as the outer wall of the Sacred Convent and Papal Apartments.
You may visit the Treasury Museum of the Basilica, open during the summer months and rich beautiful works of art.
You can also visit the Basilica Gift Shop.
The staircase next to the Gift Shop takes you to the Upper Basilica:
Take a moment to look at this simple, serene and linear structure which is full of light and rich colors.
Admire the frescos of Giotto which beginning on the left when looking at the exit, tell the story of St. Francis of Assisi.
Leave the Basilica after this encounter with St. Francis and praise the Lord for the gift of the beauty of life, of creation, and of the works of man.