Festa di San Francesco!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

St. Francis
If you are a Catholic nerd like me you should be very excited for the spate of heavyweight feast days this month: the Archangels, St. Terese of Lisieux, Our Lady of the Rosary, St. Teresa of Avila...and the list goes on! Today is the feast of arguably one of the most well-known Catholic saints - St. Francis of Assisi! I have a bit of a soft spot for St. Francis and the Franciscans because a) there are Poor Clare nuns (a Franciscan order of cloistered nuns) in my hometown, b) my dear friend is a Franciscan sister, and c) I'VE BEEN TO ASSISI!!!

St. Francis was not just a Birkenstock-clad hippie saint, who frolicked through fields and hugged trees and bunnies. Here's a very brief biography of his life that leaves out some of the fun details - like St. Francis stripping naked in the town square!

Don't be fooled by Hippie Francis!
Francis Bernardone was born the son of Pietro di Bernardone, a rich cloth merchant in Assisi in Italy. He led a wealthy and privileged life, wearing clothes made of the best materials and was well educated. With a future guaranteed in his father's business some of his youth was misspent. His experiences as a soldier, during which time he was a prisoner of war, led him to a more sombre and religious life. He undertook a pilgrimage to Rome and returned to Assisi following spiritual visions and mystical experiences. He decided to devote his life to the Christian faith and renounced all of his wealth preferring to lead a life of poverty. His evangelical preaching inspired others to follow him and in 1209 Francis and his first followers went to Rome to ask permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious order. The pope agreed and Francis d'Assisi  became the founder of the Franciscan Order of Preaching Friars. He was said to have preached to birds and animals which explains his association with nature and all of God's creatures. Francis of Assisi is also famous for the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Saint Francis of Assisi died in 1226 of natural causes.

Assisi is quite possibly the most beautiful and peaceful place I've ever been. Visiting Assisi is like stepping back into a time warp. It's a perfectly preserved medieval town. It's nestled in the sunflower covered hills of Umbria, next to to Tuscany. St. Clare (Francis's cohort) and St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows are also from Assisi. No one really has a reason to visit Assisi unless they are Catholic, so it keeps the disrespectful/crazy tourists to a minimum, unlike in the sacred places of Roma.

Let's take a walk down memory lane and re-visit my trip to Assisi :) Celebrating feast days of saints whose tombs/towns I've been too is so wonderful - I can picture everything so vividly and recall what is was like to kneel down and ask their intercession literally right THERE in front of their body.

Alexa reading at Mass on St. Francis's tomb
Basilica of St. Francis
Franciscan-ized shrubs! That's the Franciscan "tau" cross
View of lower Assisi from the Basilica
Real doves hovering near a statue of St. Francis
Franciscan Monastery & Basilica

San Damiano crucifix Francis received the stigmata from
Possibly the best picture known to man...me making the "Fr. Ted face"
while the man and legend himself makes the face!
Franciscan sisters at San Damiano
Our quaint hotel in Assisi :)
Good morning Assisi!
Castle at the very tip top of Assisi! We hiked up here to pray.
Love love love! With the Father D's
Assisi & St. Clare's Basilica 
Umbria landscape 
Praying the rosary on top of the Castle hill
Best friends in Assisi then...
...and now as a Franciscan sister!!! Sister Mary Grace, OSF
Mass on the tomb of St. Clare of Assisi
St. Mary of the Angels church houses the Portiuncola where
Jesus appeared and told St. Francis to rebuild the
Church! The most sacred place for Franciscans!
The cell where St. Francis died was in this church also



Estefanía said...


Ronald Boutelle said...

Stopped to look at the picture of St. Francis. Am currently reading a wonderful book about him. Although I'm not a Catholic, I'm a great fan. I have added some Catholic material to a book that is free. Probably some things that many Catholics are not familiar with. Just go to my URL. No adds, nothing to buy, just free.

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