In Kalsa district, north of Via Alloro, this church remains a gem despite earthquakes, raisings, and the devastating bombardment by Allied planes in 1943. It was built between 1255 and 1277 as a shrine to St. Francis of Assisi. The church is known for its facade with a shallow porch and zigzag ornamentation. Its Chiaromontano rose window is one of the finest in Sicily, and its flamboyant Gothic portal is from the original 13th-century structure.

After the 1943 bombardments, restorers set about to return the interior to its original medieval appearance, removing the overlay added by decorators who found the neoclassical style more alluring. The interior today is rather austere, with a trio of cylindrical piers and wide Gothic arches. But it still has the light, airy sense of space evocative of Franciscan churches erected in medieval times.

A few notable works of art survive. In the north aisle, fourth chapel on the left, note the magnificent arch, superbly sculpted by Pietro de Bonitate and Francesco Laurana in 1468. This arch was the earliest major Renaissance work in Sicily. The sanctuary has beautiful choir stalls carved by Paolo and Giovanni Gili in 1520.