A National Monument under the direction of the Superintendent of Medieval and Modern Art of Abruzzo since 1926, it is part of the monastic complex of San Francesco. Its foundation year dates back to 1343, as evidenced by a plaque placed on the wall situated on the left hand side of the entrance. The front elevation displays an elegantly inlaid ogival door, with a series of columns and corner pillars that create a harmonic division, marked by motifs that are more geometrical than naturalistic. Above this is a large rose window decorated with acanthus leaves, surmounted by a double-headed semicornice resting on slender columns, supporting a pair of prominent lions set on shaped brackets. Major changes were made to the interior of the church in the 17th and 18th centuries. The church has a Latin cross layout with side chapels and a transept surmounted by a dome, built at the beginning of the 18th century by Father Nicolò Palombo. The bell tower dates back to the second half of the 17th century and was commissioned by Maestro Father Antonio Fiorito di Agnone. The town clock was relocated to rest on its summit at the end of the 19th century.
On the vault are frescoes by Paolo Gamba (celebrated painter born in Ripabottoni in 1712). The most beautiful and most important is at the center, representing the Cacciata degli Angeli ribelli (Expulsion of the Rebel Angels).
An alterpiece attributed to the school of Fra Angelico depicts the astounded Apostles circling the radiant tomb, uncovered and empty, and up above there are angels that form a crown over the Virgin’s Assumption into Heaven. In fact this altar is known as the Table or the Tavola dell’Assunta (Table of the Assumption). A triumph of the baroque, the altar is dedicated to San Crispino.
The Monastery of San Francesco is adjacent to the Church of San Francesco, with which it forms one structure. The roccoco portal, dated 1769, is beautiful. It gives access to the cloister which has a lovely well, where frescoed oval lunettes from the Neapolitan school tell the stories of the life and miracles of San Francesco and Sant’Antonio of Padova. It is the headquarters of the combined Municipality and “B. Labanca” libraries, and inside is the hall of the Municipal Council of Agnone. On the vault there is a special fresco that has recently been restored. On the whole, its baroque structure has remained intact. The entrance doors to what were once the rooms of the friars are richly worked in stuccos, and there are ovals containing the faces of saints. In parts of these rooms there are frescoed wooden ceilings decorated with symbols that refer to “Masonry”. Well worth a long and attentive visit because it inludes the Exhibition of Ancient Books.
Via del Beato Antonio Lucci.
The Church of San Francesco is open to the public according to a variable timetable. Religious services are not celebrated on a regular basis, except at particular times of the year or for weddings. There is no entry fee. Time needed for a visit about an hour.