IT is little wonder that Italy attracts the tourists in their thousands. Not only.lias it a reputation for a sunny climate — something, which living on Northern shores, we know how to value hut it has also great art treasures in abundance. One or two paintings by Giotto have found their way to Britain, but in Assisi, for example (and not there alone) you can walk along vast expanses of wall decorated by this great artist and his school. The Basilica of St. Francis is one glorious example. Built as a lilting tomb for the great saint, it consists of two churches, the upper and lower. In both can be seen the work of Giotto and other great masters such as Cimabue. Especially iinortsive are 28 frescoes . its the Upper Church in which Giotto depicted the life of St. Francis. The exact location of The tomb of St. Francis was not known for many years. The rival sites of Italy starring with each other had a habit of taking as booty, the bodies of greatly venerated saints, and so it came about that the body of St. Francis was hidden in order to avoid such plunder. not to be discovered for six centuries. It was this fact on which Paul Gallico based his charming novel, "The Small Miracle" which was later filmed as "Never take No for an Answer". Nearly everything about Assisi and the vicinity has associations with St. Francis, for here too lies the body of St. Clare, the founder of the Poor Clares. You should also visit the nearby Hermitage of St. Francis high up on a hill. The two or three good Franciscan Friars who live in these very restricted quarters winter
and summer welcome visitors with courtesy and in many languages including English.
Don't let the railway station put you off, for Assisi is at nearby Santa Maria degli Angell. Here there is also a magnificent Basilica of great importance to the life of St.
Francis, for it houses the Sanctuary the Portincula, the cradle of the Franciscan order.
Here St. Francis, in a little cell, wrote Isis rule, here be vested his first companions and it was from here that he departed to receive the approval of the Order by Pope Innocent III in 1209.
Here, too, the Second Order of Franciscans, the Poor Clares, bud its beginning in 1211. Fr. Marconi, who resides at the Basilica, will gladly act as your English guide.
The Portincula still stands as it did. but today it is inside the vast basilica, as is also the chapel in which St. Francis died.
While Fr. Matucci will welcome pilgrims to the Casa del Pellegrino (The House of the Pilgrims), where both men and women can stay at almost unbelievably cheap rates. Beds are approximately 6s. a night. There are some single rooms. others with two beds, four beds, and right up to 10 beds. Breakfast costs Is. 2d., lunch 9s. 9d., supper 9s. 3d. The food is good, too. But book early. It is very popular. Santa Maria degli Angeli is only a quarter of an hour's walk or so from Assisi, so you can step from monastic simplicity to the riches of Malian Ail in next to no time. Enquiries regarding teasel should be accompanied by a stamped, addressed envelope and sent to : "Going Away", Catholic Herald, 67 Elect Street, London, E.C.4.