San Francesco at Assisi consists of two superimposed churches, upper and lower churches. The first stone of the Lower Basilica was laid by Pope Gregory IX the day after the canonisation of St Francis, on July 17th 1228. Two years later the saint's body, that had been resting in the church of San Giorgio was brought here in secret for fear of looting by tomb raiders and buried in the unfinished church. No date has been recorded concerning the start of works on the Upper Basilica, but it must have been after the abdication from the order of Brother Elia in 1239, who had hitherto directed the works on the Romanesque Lower Basilica. Both churches were consecrated by Pope Innocent IV in 1253.
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