The San Pietro Church and Abbey, along with the other churches in Assisi associated with St. Francis, are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. After the 1997 earthquake, an extensive , five-year restoration was necessary.
San Pietro Church Assisi
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address: Piazza San Pietro – 06081 Assisi (Tel: +39 075 812311). It is open every day from 07:30 to 19:00. The church is open to the public free of charge. (Note: Due to the Covid crisis, opening hours may differ from what is indicated here).
History and description
The abbey and church of San Pietro were founded towards the end of the 10th century on a site where there used to be a Roman necropolis. The Benedictines who built the church probably chose the site because of its strategic location.
The monastery was probably originally a kind of annex of the San Vetturino Abbey, which was dedicated to the first bishop of Assisi. After it fell into disrepair, the relics of Vetturino were transferred to the San Pietro Church.
In the first half of the thirteenth century, the history of the abbey became intertwined with that of St. Francis of Assisi.
Around 1252, the Benedictines turned the monastery over to the Cistercians. They completed the construction of the church, which was consecrated by Pope Innocent IV in 1254. They completed the construction of the abbey and the church, which was consecrated by Pope Innocent IV in 1254 at the same time as the cathedral of San Rufino and the basilica of San Francesco.
In 1316, the city wall was expanded. As a result, St. Peter’s Church came to lie within the walls.
A black page in the church’s history began in 1577, when it was handed over to a brotherhood of secular priests. In the 36 years that the brotherhood ran the abbey, it managed to lose most of the manuscripts and sacred ornaments,.
In 1613 the Benedictine monks returned and a period of renewed prosperity began. The entire complex was renovated and got more or less its present appearance.
In 1799 the monastery was banned by Napoleon‘s troops. In 1810 it was converted into a hospital, a function it held for several years.
When the newly created Italian state also decided to ban monasteries, the San Pietro Church was spared because children were taught peasant life there. In 1892 this ceased, but the monastery remained.
The San Pietro Church was one of the last typically Benedictine churches in Assisi. The reason was that from the 13th century onwards, only Franciscan churches were allowed to be built in the city.
The typical pink stone found near Monte Subasio was used as its main building material. The facade consists of two levels, separated by a cornice. Above the portals are rose windows. Both the central door and the central rose window are larger than the side doors and windows.
What to see
On the left side of the rectory is the 14th century Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento, with the triptych “Madonna and Child” painted by Matteo da Gualdo.
The chapel at the beginning of the left nave has a 12th century “Our Lady of the Rosary”.
There are also a number of sepulchral monuments at the rectory.
Inside the church there is also a small Museum of San Pietro.
After the 1997 earthquake, which caused extensive damage, the church was only been reopened in 2002.