Sanctuary / Room of St. Francis
The Shrine of St. Francis is the oldest room of the Hospice of San Biagio, where the Saint used to stay during his visits to Rome, from 1209 onwards. Jacoba de 'Settesoli helped Francis to find shelter at the hospital run by the Benedictines of Ripa Grande.
In the early seventeenth century, the room was in danger of being razed to the ground in the major renovation of the Church, work ordered by Bishop Lelio Biscia, a design by architect Longhi Honorius. The friars did not agree on the demolitions and the sumptuousness of restructuring, intervened on their behalf Cardinal Mattei, the Protector of the Order, while according to legend, it seems that the Saint himself, appeared in a dream to Cardinal Alessandro Peretti Montalto, have spoken to thwart the demolition of the sacred room, then received today and known as the Shrine of St. Francis.
Until the seventeenth century the Sanctuary was constituted by the little room of the Saint and another used by a companion served as small sacristy. In 1603, with the arrangement of the choir, it was necessary also that of the sanctuary, which was enlarged by breaking down the wall between the two cells which, as mentioned, will then be on the verge of being destined to disappear in the project Longhi.
The artful arrangement of the chapel was completed in 1698, together with that of the sacristy, when the walls are worn the thirteenth-century house of St. Francis were coated with a series of furniture in which are mixed with wood worked beautifully draping berniniani. The altar and the great shrine, as the cupboards of the sacristy, are the artisans led by Fr Franciscan Bernardino da Jesi.
The sanctuary we find him once outside the sacristy on the right before the door to the choir. At the entrance there is an inscription that recalls the story of the apparition of the saint in a dream to Cardinal Alessandro Peretti Montalto.
The altar, wood walnut, is the work of the cabinetmaker Franciscan Bernardino da Jesi (XVII century). The altarpiece in the center, is the portrait of S. Francesco d'Arezzo Margheritone on board, which replaces the painting by Domenico Cerini, who represented the Saint of Assisi in place to contemplate the Virgin. The side planks, between a column and the other depicts the Franciscan saints Louis of Anjou or from Toulouse and Anthony of Padua, with the mystery of the Annunciation which the Virgin and the Angel left to right.
An ingenious mechanism ago from Mobile shrine, built by Fr Thomas of Spoleto in 1708 and is open the side doors of the altarpiece and shows silver caskets containing the remains of the largest Franciscan saints, relics donated by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold of the Medici.
On the right wall is visible where a stone rested his head on the Seraphic Father St. Francis during sleep. At the rear there is a stained-glass window made by Maria Letizia Giuliana Melis in 1926. On the left wall is instead hung the picture with photo of Pope John Paul II kneeling to pray before the image of St. Francis during his visit to the parish of 1st December 1991.