Convent of San Francesco

  • Barga LU, Italia
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The friars of the Observance had settled in Barga since 1434: the vast consensus obtained throughout Lucca by the founder, Brother Herculaneum, had motivated the papal concession to the foundation of two convents in Garfagnana: the first in Pieve Fosciana, the second in Barga, where four followers of Herculaneum worked, two of whom were destined to become blessed. Already in 1471 the community obtained to leave the small convent built in Nebbiana (and named after S. Bernardino immediately after his canonization) for a site closer to the town. After having bought a piece of land along the road that leads from Fornaci to Barga and the small church of S. Maria delle Grazie that was there, the new buildings were completed by the end of the century, with the help of the local population and the contribution of the municipal authorities. The present church preserves its initial plan, reminiscent of Michelangelo's style, with a single nave marked by cross-ribbed vaulted bays on corbels; during the 16th century it was probably subjected to new works that made necessary a new consecration in 1572.\The annexed conventual environments, which were articulated on three sides of the cloister adjacent to the church, were restructured several times over the centuries, also because of the suppression of the Convent in 1810 and the subsequent establishment of a hospital in the abandoned premises of the same, which became the property of the Municipality of Barga. Since 1859 the Opera Pia of the Hospital of St. Francis, established in 1848, required the presence of a family of Capuchin friars to assist the sick. The rooms, enlarged during the 20th century, still host a hospital today. The precious and large nucleus of Florentine glazed terracottas, which enriched the church between 1480 and 1515, belongs to the period of the refounding of the convent: many of them are still preserved. \(

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