Church of Saint Francis (Chiesa di San Francesco)

Edited by

Maria Teresa Sambin

Places of worship

Other denominations

Chiesa di San Francesco/Basilica di San Francesco e convento


Azzo VII, Ercole I

D'Este's People

Ercole I, Niccolò III, Obizzo III, Parisina Malatesta, Ugo d'Este

Artists / Humanists

Benvenuto Tisi, Bernardino Marsigli, Biagio Rossetti, Domenico Mona, Fino Marsigli, Giovan Battista Aleotti, Giovanni Tosi, Girolamo da Carpi, Ippolito Scarsella


Notarial documents record the presence of a Franciscan church on the site of ​​the present convent as early as 1232: it must have been built with poor materials, as at the beginning of the following decade, Azzo VII d’Este laid the foundation stone of a new building. In 1341, the construction of a much larger church was started, on a site close to the previous one. The 14th-century church was chosen as the burial place of the Este family starting from Obizzo III (who died in 1352), up until the construction of Santa Maria degli Angeli (1403-1440), commissioned by Nicolò III; the bodies of the most important members of the family rested in the Arca rossa (Red Ark), a porphyry sarcophagus that is now lost, while others were placed in “various areas” of the building. Ugo d’Este and Parisina Malatesta were buried in the external cemetery after their beheading, ordered by Nicolò III in 1425 to avenge the outrage they had caused him by having an affair behind his back. The foundation stone of the current church of San Francesco was laid on 3 August 1494, with the support of Ercole I, who allocated a tenth of the resources collected through the condemnations and state confiscations to the construction. Severely damaged by the earthquake of 1570 and suffering collapses in the 19th century, the building today constitutes an interesting palimpsest that only partially retains its original appearance.


Useful information


piazza S. Francesco, 1 angolo via Savonarola, 3





Visitability of the place

Open to visits


Religious ceremony (wedding, funeral, burial,...)