Francis's followers were bitterly divided over the building of such a grand basilica shortly after the saint's death. After all, he wanted only simplicity and poverty!
How good for subsequent generations that Brother Elia triumphed over the purists! For it is from the murals by Giotto that most of us have acquired pictorial knowledge of the little saint.
We were all distressed when the earthquake damaged these precious walls - but the damage has been sensitively and cleverly restored.
Every time we visit we seem to encounter huge American choirs singing at Mass in the upper basilica. This obviously brings great joy to them!
The most special place - though it is difficult to get down the steps - is the lowest level. Here are the tombs of St Francis and his closest friends. There is a reverent silence and the lamps are low and solemn.
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