Piandarca Shrine

Piandarca wayside shrine

One of the most famous episodes in the life of St. Francis took place on an unspoiled plain: his famous sermon to the birds. This happened at Piandarca, a place of remarkable scenic beauty and absolute silence in the municipality of Cannara.

A destination of great significance

According to tradition, as ascertained by Franciscan historiography, in this wonderful landscape, there is a small path that St. Francis walked in the direction of Bevagna, after preaching in Cannara. And here, crossing the lane, he noticed an extraordinary multitude of birds to which he addressed his Sermon. This is one of the most famous episodes in the Saint's life, known throughout the world and a source of inspiration for Giotto (Upper Basilica, Assisi), Benozzo Gozzoli (Montefalco, San Francesco) and other painters.

Halfway along the route, on the left bank of the Formella stream, various documents and testimonies from the early twentieth century attest to the presence of a stone, identifying it as the place where the Saint placed his feet to preach to the birds.

The stone mentioned in these documents no longer exists today. Oral testimonies claim to have seen it stolen, one summer day in the mid-1950s, by a small group of friars, or people dressed in Franciscan habit, who allegedly removed the stone from the ground to load it onto an old truck. In 2004, on the initiative of the Pro Loco, another stone was placed, carved by Professor Sestilio Burattini of the Perugia Academy of Fine Arts and Jelena Panjkovic, his student. In any case, although lacking the original stone, the place continues to be a destination of great significance for the faithful and pilgrims.

In procession to not forget

To commemorate this famous event, the traditional Procession to Piandarca, documented since 1645, takes place every year in Cannara on the fifth Sunday after Easter. It starts from the church of St. Francis (15th-16th century) in Cannara, retracing the path of the preaching to the birds, and ends at the Wayside Shrine of Piandarca, erected by the Preziotti family of Cannara in 1926, where a Holy Mass is celebrated.

In recent years, a project to enhance the area has been undertaken to create an outdoor sanctuary. Currently a large TAU stands there, illuminated at night, and a bronze statue by artist Antonio de Paoli, inaugurated in 2022, depicting St. Francis preaching to the birds. To complete the work, a stone altar, made by the same artist, will also be installed, where religious rites can be celebrated.

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