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Eremo delle Carceri
Mount Subasio, Italy 

The Eremo delle Carceri is a small hermitage in a steep forest gorge on the slopes of Mount Subasio, in Umbria, four kilometers above Assisi. The word Carceri is from the Latin 'carceres' and means "isolated places" (as well as "prisons").

In the 13th century, Saint Francis returned here many times during his life to pray, as did other hermits before him. When he first came to this site in 1205, the only building there was a tiny 12th-century oratory. Soon, other men followed Francis to the mountain, finding their own isolated caves nearby in which to pray. The oratory became known as Santa Maria delle Carceri after the small "prisons" occupied by friars in the area.

The site and the oratory was probably given by the Benedictines to St. Francis in 1215, at the same time they gave him the Porziuncola in the valley below. Francis dedicated himself to a life of preaching and missions, but throughout his life he would frequently withdraw to the Carceri to pray.

Around 1400, Saint Bernardino of Siena built a small friary, which includes a little choir with wood stalls and a simple refectory with the original tables from about 1400. St. Bernardine also built a small church called Santa Maria delle Carceri with an altarpiece fresco of the Virgin and Child, which extended the earlier chapel.

During the centuries that followed, various buildings were added around St. Francis' cave and the original oratory, forming the sizeable complex that exists today. Today some Franciscan monks live there.

Every year, thousands of pilgrims visit the Eremo delle Carceri. On October 4th, 2013, the Feast Day of St. Francis, Pope Francis came to the Eremo to pray during his historic visit to Assisi.

Eremo delle Carceri has a Facebook page.

Photos