The monastery of S. Francesco in Manduria was built June 15, 1474 as reported by us Brief "Piis votis" with which Pope Sixtus IV, acceding to the wishes of population of Manduria, granted to open a monastery of the Observant Friars. Over the centuries the complex has undergone several interventions of demolition and rebuilding, but they are certainly the end of the fifteenth century, the magnificent cloister with the refectory. The church was rectangular, not much larger than at present. The complex was completed around the beginning of the eighteenth century with the Baroque bell tower.
Interior of the church
The facade dates from 1773 because the seventeenth century was seriously damaged by the earthquake of 1743. At the beginning of 1800 was completed with the addition of the balustrade and curved pediment baroque. The interior is quite large and consists of a rectangular nave with seven side altars. the presbytery, only in religious architecture Manduria, is beautifully carved with three rows of spiral and smooth columns with floral motifs. Here you find a gallery of eighteen and bust wooden statues from different shops. The gilding of all busts was made with the legacy of the Spanish nobleman Gaspar Montesina in memory of his young son who died prematurely and was finished in 1633, the date seen on the gable of the presbytery.
Details of the vault
This gallery of saints in prayer adoring the Eucharist was created in opposition to the Protestant Reformation, which denies the worship of the Eucharist and of the Saints. On the main altar is the wooden crucifix, carved shortly after 1693. Typical are the delicate face, thick beard and carefully designed, hair distribution on the shoulders, the molded body and anatomically described. Side of the Crucified the same artist also sculpted the wooden statues of the Addolorata, San Giovanni and three angels. While the statues of angels were lost, the two sculptures were removed in 1964 and placed in two niches in the convent.
Of particular interest both historical and artistic is the lower church choir with carved wooden stalls with elegance and harmony, a very valuable artifact, unique in all of Puglia, but, because of time, is likely to be lost
To the south-east of the church cloister, the late Renaissance style, it is a perfect example of architectural harmony, drawn by strong polygonal columns ending in capitals with flowers on which rest five Gothic warheads. Around 1680 it was built a cloister top inflettendo arches on massive square columns, without any reference to the style and geometry of the lower cloister. The portico of the walls are decorated with frescoes narrating episodes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. John of Capistrano and St. Paschal Baylon. These connect the fresco located at the bottom of the porch of the choir partly renovated today, representing the "Tree of the Seraphic Reform of St. Nicholas in Puglia". The painter paints the Seraphic Reform with a leafy tree whose flowers are fifteen medallions with portraits of monks known for their holiness and knowledge.