San Francisco Displays St. Francis Basilica Art

Americans are getting a rare chance to see masterpieces from Italy's Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi without leaving the U.S. at an exhibit that opened this weekend in San Francisco.

"The Treasury of St. Francis of Assisi," at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, presents about 70 medieval and early Renaissance panel paintings, reliquaries, sculptures and illuminated manuscripts from the 13th century church, which contains the tomb of the saint who founded the Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church and was also known for his love of animals.

The basilica in Assisi was heavily damaged by earthquakes in 1997, and the artworks are on loan while it undergoes repairs to its frescoes and ceilings. The goal is to finish the work by next year and return the objects.

Among artists whose works are displayed in San Francisco are Pietro Lorenzetti, Giovanni de Paolo, Fra Angelico and Lorenzo Monaco. Notable works from the Cantiere of Assisi (workshops centered around the Convent of Assisi) include the "Dossal of St. Francis" (painted on the board where the saint's body is said to have been prepared for burial) and the "Processional Cross" by the so-called Master of the Blue Crucifixes.

The exhibit runs through Nov. 14. Admission is included with the museum's entrance fee of $8 adults, $5 ages 12 to 17; free under 12. The museum, in Lincoln Park, is closed on Mondays. Information: telephone (415) 863-3330.

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