Sardinia


Alghero 

Saint Francis Church 



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Dating from the 14th century, the current church in the heart of Alghero’s old quarter was built on the site of a former church by Franciscan friars on the instructions of Pope John XXII. In response to a Papal bull issued in 1324 which instructed that two converts were to be established in Sardinia.

In 1593 part of the church collapsed possibly due to the waterlogged ground conditions, which necessitated the rebuilding

Of the original, the front of the church remains with its rose window and portal. Over the portal is a statue of Saint Francis although this is a modern work, the original was a wooden one which is in the vestry undergoing preservation work.  The façade also contains a classic style lintel, in which is carved the emblem of the Franciscans, which is the Tau cross. This is shaped like the Greek letter “tau,” which in its upper-case form has the same appearance as Latin and English T.  This is surrounded by angels.

The building constructed in sandstone is in the Gothic-Catalan style and still contain parts of the original building. These include two small chapels at the front of the church, the large presbytery with four adjoining chapels and the chapel of the Holy Sacrament. 

The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament has a star shaped vault which is a mirror of the one over the presbytery and has distinctive floral shaped reliefs over one of its arches.

In 1940’s a number of restoration projects was undertaken which opened up some of its original structure. This included the columns capitals and the removal of the plaster ceiling exposed the original star shaped vault of the presbytery. 

The interior consists of three naves which are divided by round arches sitting on eight cross shaped columns.  The arches form the entrance to ten side chapels. These contain altars and of particular interest are three in the left nave which are made of wood and are multicoloured with gold leaf. These were made in 1729, 1730 and 1734. The capitals in the chapels are sculptured reliefs of the plants that the Franciscan friars used to grow in the convent gardens.  

Above the central nave is a barrel-vaulted ceiling divided containing a number of lunettes (A small, circular or crescent-shaped opening in a vaulted roof).  The interior also contains a number of rectangular windows situated over the arches and also over the mezzanine.

The church contains a number of statues.  Over the polychrome (being of many or various colours) altar are statues of the Virgin Mary with Saint Francis and Saint Antony of Padua at her side. These are in the Rococo style and were made in Genoa in 1773. In the third bay from the left is the Placed 

Christ which is a representation of the Passion of Christ, as in fact is the 17th century wooden statue of the Flagellated Christ known as “Lo Rosegat”.

On displays in the vestry is an inlaid wooden cabinet containing a number of drawers and doors inlaid with flowers, fruit and parrots. Made of two overlaid parts the lower part has two small twisted columns. The piece dates from the 18th century and is used to store religious vestments which are used during a service.

Accessed through the vestry is the cloister, which dates from the 15th century. It consists of two floors with the second floor being added in the 18th century. It consists of a series of columns either circular or polyhedral (a solid shape with four or more flat surfaces) placed alternatively with decorated capitals.  Looking over the cloister is the hexagonal shaped bell tower with its toothed spires dating from 1632. 

 


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Altar Vestry



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Cloister Lo Rosegat



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Baroque Altar Ceiling over Nave

 

 
 

All  Photographs Copyright: Ron Gatepain

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