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Saint Francis’ visit

Street and number Via Guglielmi, Isola Maggiore
City Tuoro sul Trasimeno
Country ITA

Saint Francis’ visit to the island is described in his oldest official biography, written in 1229, only one year after the Saint’s canonisation. It mentions a mystical event which would have taken place on the island: an islander, having snared a wild rabbit, would have taken it as an offering to Francis, who immediately freed the animal.

At that point, instead of running out into the forest, the rabbit jumped into the holy man’s lap for protection. A later source describes how Francis would have been inspired by God to spend the time of Lent on the island, in the middle of the lake, fasting and praying.

Another tradition claims that while Francis was reaching the island by boat his party was met by high winds and a storm, placated by a word from the Saint’s mouth. In a sense, the fact that a Franciscan convent and friary was established very early on the island can be considered a testimony to the Saint’s visit. Because of his passage, the two sites are still centres of popular faith. Both are placed along the lakeshore walk, looking towards Passignano and the forested Isola Minore.

According to legend, the point where the Saint came to shore would still preserve, imprinted in the rock, marks of his knees and elbows. Facing the lake, a chapel was built over the spring which, it is told, Francis dug out with his hands, finding clear water. Above it stands a weather-beaten wooden statue of the Saint.

A more modern effigy, in bronze, oversees the banks of the lake: it was donated by the Franciscan Friars of Santa Croce in Florence in 1982.

Yet another chapel, just above, protects a stone where Francis would have lain to sleep during that fabled time of Lent.

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