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Santuario Francescano del Presepe
Greccio, Rieti Valley, Italy

The Hermitage of Greccio, also known as the Santuario Francescano del Presepe, is about two kilometres away from the village of Greccio, an old hilltown overhanging the Velino river on a spur of the Monti Sabini. The hermitage is intimately linked with the celebration of Christmas which Francis organised there in 1223.

Central to the Santuario is the chapel of the crib, which was built in the present form in 1228. A rock under the altar indicates the place where Francis arranged the manger of the crib. The cave wall is surrounded by a fresco from the school of Giotto. It shows Francis wearing the dalmatic of a deacon and taking into his arms the infant Jesus. Another interesting section of the sanctuary is the primitive Franciscan friary, with the dormitory, the refectory and the cell of St. Francis. A modern church, built in 1959, features a large nativity scene.