Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Greccio and its Franciscan Sanctuary have recently become one of the 754 properties included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
A few hundred meters as the crow flies and at 2 km by means of the provincial street is the ancient town of Greccio, today a pleasant vacation and spa location at 705 meters high. The center is open all around a vast piazza, whose new layout, realized for the Jubilee, has had a few modifications made from the original characteristics. The piazza is dominated from above by the parochial church; its belltower is what remains of an ancient tower of the Greece Castle. From the town you see the valley and in front, the Sanctuary. Attached to the rock from which holm-oak woods emerge, in front of the town with the same name, is the Greccio Sanctuary which overlooks the Reatina basin, in a spot that they say was chosen by San Francesco (St. Francis). In fact, legend says that the Saint asked a boy in the town to throw a lit ember and that it flew all the way to the other side of the valley, hitting the rocky face. If you go there you will understand from the distance that this was something of a miracle. It would not have been an easy throw, but as you know, when it comes to saints, there's no discussion about it not being true. Then, here, according to tradition, the Saint created the first Nativity Scene on Christmas night in 1223 in memory of the birth of Jesus and his poverty and in front of it celebrated mass. From here on it has been a tradition at Christmas-time to make a Nativity Scene. Every year there is a ceremony in costume on the 24th and 26th of December in memory of this event. In the convent, the Chapel of the Nativity Scene, dug into the rock, and, within the dormitory of the friars, the cell in which San Francesco slept, are must-sees.
The 13th-century small church of San Bonaventura is also very charming; in reality, it is the first place dedicated to the worship of San Francesco, with rustic wooden stalls of the small choir still perfect, the Oratory of San Francesco, and the Dormitory of San Bonaventura.
They are small places, put together, partially constructed in stone and wood and partially dug into the rock, which evoke great poetry of the life of mediation and concentration in which you must take part. You will have a more intense experience if you visit here on a less-to