The Church of San Francesco

In the main square of Minturno, Piazza Roma, stands the small stone church of San Francesco d’Assisi. This was constructed in approximately 1320 by Roffredo III Caetani, the Count of Traetto, who was the nephew of Pope Boniface VIII.  This church was built on the site of an earler Francisan construction. It was originally dedicated to the Madonna Degli Angioli. In the lunette above the doorway is a mosaic designed by the artist Antonio Notari in 1970.

The interior of the church consists of just one nave and is simply decorated, and its walls are made of bare stone. It underwent renovations in 1612. It is said that during these structural works a large block of stone fell onto one of the stone masons working there by the name of Simonelli. Fortunately he escaped injury and this was seen as something of a miracle and from that time the name of the church changed to the Madonna delle Grazie.  From 1850 the Madonna was declared as the patron of the town and its surrounding villages. Therefore, there is a beautiful side altar with a fresco depicting the Madonna delle Grazie, in whose honour the annual Festival of the Wheat Harvest known as the Sagra delle Regne which is celebrated every July in Minturno.

In 1970 the building was renovated and completely stripped of all of its baroque decorations. Behind the altar is a crucifix by the artist Paolo Frattari.

During the restoration work two ancient frescoes were discovered. One depicts the Incoronazione della Vergine and the other is of the Madonna and child.

Also within the church there are some interesting wooden carvings depicting the Stations of the Cross and a Roman stone sarcophagus.

Next to the church is the Palazzo Municipale or town hall overlooking the Gulf of Gaeta.

Nearby in Via Campanile is the Convent of San Francesco.  The original convent was built in approximately 1320 by Roffredo III Caetani on the site of ancient Francescan chapel. The building we see today was built in 1893.

photo – Patrick Abbott