In the late 1438, in remembrance of Santa Caterina of Alessandria, an narrow sanctuary was erected on the most exposed rock of the town. The holy building was assigned to the Clarisse nuns by the Count Stabulo Algracio. In those days, when Vieste was known as “the Lost” due to the lack of connecting roads to the surrounding towns, people were reaching “the Lost” almost only by sea. This peculiarity made Vieste highly accessible to merchant sailors and, at the same time, to the corsairs coming from the middle east who had attached the town multiple times.
One of the most violent invasions came about by the hand of the Turkish Ahmed Pasha, who assaulted the town under the order of the king Maometto II. The attach resulted in the destruction of the sanctuary which was abandoned until the 1546. This year, the Franciscan monks arrived in Vieste with the purpose of bringing the peace through the spread of the word of God and, after seeing the forgotten temple, they decided to rebuild it and call it Saint Francis, the name that we are still using nowadays. This time the sanctuary was surrounded by a massive bulwark or “baluardo” to deter the assault from the sea.
However, the luck was not on the side of the monument which was once more destroyed in the 1664 after a furious earthquake that forced the citizens to move inland. This did not discourage the Franciscan monks who rebuilt the church including the “baluardo”. But after their sacrifice, in the 1809 they were ordered by Napoleon to leave the holy building so that it could have been turned into a militar outpost.
However, the name Saint Francis remained impressed in the mind of the viestani population.
The church of Saint Francis surrounded by the impressive “baluardo can be clearly seen from the balcony of this room gifting the observer with an enchanting view.