The Church of San Francesco D’Assisi
The first Church of San Francesco was built in Fondi the 12th century. It is said to have been founded by St Francis himself when he passed through the town. At the end of 1375 a church and an adjoining convent were commissioned by the Count of Fondi Onorato I Caetani. The work was completed in 1399. The building was then remodeled by Onorato II Caetani who was buried in the church.
From 1466 the convent of San Francesco was run by the order of the Frati Minori Osservanti who held it for short periods. During the French occupation of Napoleon’s troops it was forced to close. It was reopened in 1843 however the friars were only allowed to return to the church in 1881 for a short period only. During the Second World War the buildings suffered serious damage. Following the war the convent was restored in 1946.
There is a portico to the front of the building. On either side of the Gothic doorway there are two stylised crouching lions which support pedestals in worked marble. At the center of the lintel is the coat of arms of the Caetani family. Above the doorway there is a lunette which has a modern mosaic (1970) of Saint Francis with the Stigmata, the work of F. D’Urso. The bell tower dates back to the late 13th / early 14th century and has an octagonal top.
The Interior of the Church of San Francesco
The interior of the church is in a Gothic style and has two naves, one main and a smaller one with pointed arches. Behind the main altar is the wooden choir and a crucifix that was formerly in the church of Sant’Antonio, which was destroyed by the bombings of 1944. The stained glass windows, which depict the various stages of life of San Francesco, are the work of Father Giorgio Ascione. The church also houses a 16th century fresco of the Madonna del Rosario, of the Neapolitan school which was previously in the Church of San Sebastiano. There is also a Roman tombstone in bas-relief, dating from the 3rd or 4th century AD, representing a family group.
In the convent there is a cloister and garden which contains some Roman statues and artefacts.
The Church is located in Piazza IV Novembre.