Convent of San Francesco
from conventual complex to pastoral centre for youth
The origin of the Church of San Francesco dates back to the time when Saint Francis of Assisi travelling from Benevento to Apulia stopped in Ariano. After his death, the townpeople build both church and convent in his honour as also reported by T. Vitale in his work of 1794. Vitale furthermore reports that the church had been sold by the Conventuals to the Observant friars of the Province of Naples by Pius II in 1463 and then, by the Observants to the Reformed Fathers of the province of Apulia on April 29, 1640.
In documents of the late eighteenth century, it is reported:
“it is well located, and has space to host thirty and more religious, to study theology, with two or three readers and a good number of students, besides the infirmary and apothecary /spice room settled there for years on behalf of the religious of many convents of the province […]”
Flammia in his History written in 1893 clarifies:
“... the Reformed of St. Angelo di Puglia kept it until 1867, when they were expelled because of the suppression law. The convent was a provincial house, maintaining the theologians’ student residence, where in the years 1843-1844 public dogmatic disputes among young people were frequent, a sign that studies were prosperous. At the time of the suppression, there were 24 friars, and they all exiled. The only two or three people had to vacate the convent, which came to be soldiers’ barracks.
At that juncture, the good citizens mourned the loss of a religious corporation, which had always been dear to everyone, for the functions it had, the church, the study course, and for the sake of the people who frequently flocked to church Mass. The temple is situated on an elevated site, small but beautiful. It has a single nave, a pretty organ, nine marble altars, two beautiful choirs made of carved walnut, a large sacristy, a nice bell concert. It also had a pleasant oriental bell dome covered with painted tiles, destroyed by lightning on November 4, 1873 [...]”.dal fulmine il 4 Novembre 1873 ...”.
The complex, destroyed by numerous earthquakes at various times, was rebuilt each time. The complex area retained the same configuration until 1930 when, because of the earthquake, the Reformed Fathers demolished part of the convent together with the adjoining rectory. Substantial was also the damage caused to the bell tower with its oriental dome, which was demolished and rebuilt but deprived of its original form. In the 70s, after the earthquake of 1962 the remaining portion of the convent, with its cloister, was torn down after being destined by the Municipality to be a fruit and vegetables market place.
Pastoral Centre for Youth
In the early 2000s, the square was concerned with a substantial processing operation: the empty space left by the demolished church and adjoining bell tower, badly damaged by the earthquake of 1980, hosted the current Pastoral Centre for Youth, property of the Archbishop’s Curia of Ariano Irpino - Lacedonia, contained among Largo Bevere and Via Mancini and present Piazzale San Francesco.