DescriptionIn the early 1500s, the wandering Capuchin monks first came to Mendrisio during Lent to preach to the people. In 1635 they finally decided to settle in town and so built their monastery. Next to this is the church of San Francesco (1635), commonly known as the Chiesa dei Cappuccini after the monks. In 1853 the monastery was demolished to make way for a hospital (the Vecchio Ospedale, now Palazzo Turconi).
A pleasant avenue leads up to the church with its red façade and mosaic depicting St. Francis of Assisi by a local artist, Gino Macconi (1967).
The church has just one nave and a barrel vault roof painted in the Neo-Gothic style by Angelo Sala (1870). The front of the nave contains several paintings from the 16th century, including (on the right) one of San Felice da Cantalice (1637) with a fine natural landscape in greys and browns, while on the left is a painting of Sant’Antonio da Padova (1655) by Francesco Torriani, quite remarkable for its warm golden colours.
The first chapel on the right has a Late Baroque wooden altar with a statue of the Madonna crushing the devil underfoot.
Several artistic styles are used for the main altar. The temple-shaped ciborium is Late Baroque, while the simple Neoclassical altar stone was added in the 19th century. The altarpiece dates back to the 17th century and is a copy by Giovan Battista Crespi (“il Cerano”) depicting the crucifix with St. Francis and St. Carlo Borromeo in postures of passion typical of the intense devotion during the Counter-Reformation.
The choir (built in the 18th century) features several paintings of saints and Capuchin friars (17th-19th centuries), rescued from the monastery.