The hermitage of San Francesco Saverio was inhabited by Franciscan friars, first by hermits in black robes and later by the Franciscan tertiaries.
The hermitage (hermitage term: hermit’s refuge; isolated and inhospitable residence) perfectly reflects the characteristics of this title, given the poor location considering the period of residence (1600/1800).
It takes its name from the Spanish missionary Francisco de Jasso (1506-1552), like other places and buildings in this area.
The Hermitage of San Francesco is located a few hundred meters from two other historical monuments of Elba: the “Torre di San Giovanni” and the “Pieve di San Giovanni“.
The area is surrounded by rich Mediterranean vegetation, in the area there are many paths that branch off into the bush, ideal routes for trekking lovers.
Directions reported on the poster of the Romitorio di San Francesco
The hermitage, built between the 16th and 17th centuries, is named after Saint Francis Xavier (Francisco de Jasso Azpilcueta Atondo y Aznares de Javier), Spanish missionary in the Far East.
He traveled to India, Malaysia and Japan, where he celebrated the first baptism in that land. He died at 46, on December 3, 1552.
Of the structure, consisting of a chapel next to a shelter, only ruins remain which show the elegant architectural setting of some elements such as the fine masonry altar surmounted by a triangular aedicule illuminated by the sun that enters from a small window on the side north. On the south side, an opening led to the sacristy; this led to the place where the hermits were hospitalized.
The hermitage was inhabited, in the mid-eighteenth century, by hermits who dressed in the typical black dress, only at the end of the same century did they wear that of the Franciscan Tertiaries.
In 1817 the administrators of the hermitage were Domenico Battaglini and Michelangelo Pavolini, in the same year, as we read in records kept in the Historical Archive of Marciana, << … 12 masses must be celebrated every year, and the feast with the intervention of all the clergy (…). The church then threatens to ruin, so prompt compensation is needed.>.
In 1846 the structure was <… damaged by the damp on one side being the ground far above the floor (…). It would be better to raise the whole building (…). It will still be necessary to open a window on the Levant side to provide ventilation inside the aforementioned Oratory.>
The hermitage of St. Francis Xavier depicted in the Leopoldine cadastre 1840
The structure fell under the jurisdiction of the parish of S. Ilario
How to reach the hermitage of San Francesco Saverio
Reaching the Romitorio di San Francesco is very easy, along the road that leads from San Ilario to Monte Perone, one hundred meters after passing the Torre di San Giovanni, (clearly visible from the road) and just before from the Pieve di San Giovanni, we find the way that leads to the Church of San Francesco.
The road is immersed in chestnut trees and easily passable.
They are about 500 meters on flat ground, only the last 20 meters are located on a slight slope on rocky terrain.
Location Romitorio San Francesco