|Assisi (Latin: Asisium), is a town in Italy in Perugia province, Italy, in the Umbria region, on the western flank of Mt. Subasio. It is the birthplace of St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208, and St. Clare (Chiara d'Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Clares. Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows of the 19th century was also born in Assisi.
In 238 AD Assisi was converted to Christianity by bishop Rufino, who was martyred at Costano. According to tradition, his remains rest in the Cathedral Church of San Rufino in Assisi.
The Ostrogoths of king Totila destroyed most of the town in 545. Assisi then came under the rule of the Lombards and later the Frankish Duchy of Spoleto.
The thriving city became an independent Ghibelline commune in the 11th century. Constantly struggling with the Guelph Perugia, it was during one of those battles, the battle at Ponte San Giovanni, that Francesco di Bernardone, (Francis of Assisi), was taken prisoner, setting in motion the events that eventually led him to live as a beggar and renounce the world.
The Rocca Maggiore, the imperial fortress on top of the Mount Subasio, was plundered by the people in 1189, but rebuilt in 1367 on orders of the papal delegate, cardinal Gil de Albornoz.
The city, which had remained within the confines of the Roman walls, began to expand outside these walls in the 13th century. In this period the city was under papal jurisdiction.
In the beginning Assisi fell under the rule of Perugia and later under several despots, such as the soldier of fortune Biordo Michellotti, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, duke of Milan, Francesco I Sforza, another duke of Milan, Jacopo Piccinino and Federico I of Montefeltro, lord of Urbino. The city went into a deep decline through the plague of the Black death in 1348 AD.
The city came again under papal jurisdiction under the rule of Pope Pius II (1458-1464).
In 1569 construction was started of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. During the renaissance and later centuries, the city continued to develop peacefully, attested by the 17th-century palaces of the Bernabei and Giacobetti.
Now the site of many a pilgrimage, Assisi is linked in legend with its native son, St. Francis. The gentle saint founded the Franciscan order and shares honors with St. Catherine of Siena as the patron saint of Italy. He is remembered by many, even non-Christians, as a lover of nature (his preaching to an audience of birds is one of the legends of his life).
Assisi was hit by the devastating twin earthquakes that shook Umbria in 1997, but the recovery and restoration have been remarkable, although much remains to be done. Massive damage was caused to many historical sites, but the major attraction, the Basilica di San Francesco, reopened less than two years later.