“La Selva di San Francesco”, the part of the Forest adjacent to the Basilica, owned by the Basilica itself, was known in the thirtheen century, as “Hill of Hell” (Collis Inferni), perhaps for its wild or for its location, from inferius , the lowest place of the city.
Here were the forks to the hanging of the condemned to death, stark reminder for common criminals and political enemies of the city, and probably lepers took refuge here, in times of plague.
According to legend (Legend Major VI-2 by friar Bonaventure), Saint Francis chose as their burial place the Hill of Hell, to be treated as criminals, in imitation of Christ, who died crucified between two thieves and was buried outside Jerusalem.
Someone else, however, argues that the choice was dictated by the Holy felt for those places where he often retreated into solitude and prayer.
After St. Francis death, Pope Gregory IX, who wanted to build a church in Assisi where special guard the body of the saint, the Basilica, renamed the Selva “Hill of Paradise”.