LA LEGGENDA DELLA SELVALa Selva di San Francesco, which is the part of the Forest adjacent to the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, was known in the ’200 as “Hill of Hell” (Collis Hells), perhaps because of his wild appearance or its location, from inferius, place lower than the city.
Here stood the gallows for the hanging of death row inmates, stark reminder for common criminals and political enemies of the city and probably took refuge here also the lepers in times of plague.
St. Francis, according to the legend (Legend VI-2 Major Bonaventure), he chose as his own burial place of the Hill of Hell to be treated the same way as criminals and, in imitation of Christ, who died between two thieves crucified and buried outside Jerusalem.
Someone else, however, argues that the choice was dictated by the Holy felt for those places where often withdrew into solitude and prayer.
After the death of St. Francis, Pope Gregory IX, who wanted to build a church in Assisi, where special guard the body of the saint, the Basilica, renamed the Selva in “Hill of Paradise”.