Pilgrimage Reflections

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RETREAT SCHEDULE ............................................................................................ 3

1—LITURGY ......................................................................................................... 6
   TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2008 ....................................................................................... 6
   WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 2008 ................................................................................. 8
   THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2008 .................................................................................. 10
   FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 2008 ........................................................................................ 13
   SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2008 .................................................................................. 16
   SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2008 ...................................................................................... 18
   TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2008 ........................................................................................ 20
   WEDNESDAY, JULY 2, 2008.................................................................................. 23
II -- PILGRIMAGE REFLECTIONS .......................................................................... 25
   ROME ................................................................................................................. 25
      Francis goes on Pilgrimage to Rome and experiences the
      beggars. ........................................................................................................ 25
      FIORETTI 13 .................................................................................................... 25
      Francis prays at the Tomb of Peter for the treasure of holy
      poverty. ......................................................................................................... 25
      Francis seeks approval for a rule of life. .................................................. 26
      Francis desires martyrdom. ............................................................................ 28
   RIETI..................................................................................................................... 30
   EVENTS ............................................................................................................... 30
      The Legend of Perugia, LP 85 ................................................................... 30
   FRANCIS TEACHES BY EXAMPLE. ....................................................................... 30
GRECCIO............................................................................................................ 31
   EVENTS ............................................................................................................... 31
     Francis is inspired to reenact the events of Bethlehem. ................................. 32
     Easter at Greccio: A lesson in poverty. .......................................................... 34
   FONTE COLOMBO ................................................................................................... 35
     EVENTS ........................................................................................................... 35
     Mirror of Perfection 1................................................................................... 37
     Eye Cauterization. .......................................................................................... 38
ASSISI ................................................................................................................ 39
     First Order: ..................................................................................................... 39
     Assisi Dawn .................................................................................................... 40
   THE HOME OF FRANCIS BERNARDONE ........................................................................ 42
     EVENTS ........................................................................................................... 42
   HISTORICAL NOTES ........................................................................................ 42
HOUSE OF BERNARD OF QUINTAVALLE ....................................................................... 43
   HISTORICAL NOTES ........................................................................................ 43
   Legend of the Three Companions, 27 - 29 ...................................................... 44
   THE CANTICLE OF BROTHER SUN .................................................................. 47
SAN DAMIANO....................................................................................................... 48
   Francis offers money to the priest at San Damiano. ...................................... 48
   Message from the San Damiano Crucifix. ...................................................... 49
   Francis escapes from his father, lives with the priest..................................... 50
   Francis restores San Damiano. ....................................................................... 51
SAINT CLARE.......................................................................................................... 52
   LETTERS OF ST. CLARE ................................................................................... 52
   The Privilege of Poverty ................................................................................ 55
THE CARCERI ......................................................................................................... 57
   HISTORICAL NOTES ........................................................................................ 57
   Francis seeks solitary places........................................................................... 57
   Francis seeks solitary places........................................................................... 58
   Francis searches out place for solitude. ......................................................... 58
THE PORZIUNCOLA ................................................................................................. 59
   HISTORICAL NOTES ........................................................................................ 59
   Francis hears the Gospel and a life direction is given. ................................... 60
   How Francis obtained the church of St. Mary of the Angels .......................... 61
   Francis’ life journey is shaped by the Porziuncola .......................................... 62
   The death of Francis ....................................................................................... 63
THE BASILICA OF SANTA CHIARA ............................................................................... 64
   HISTORICAL NOTES ........................................................................................ 64
   Blessing of St Clare ......................................................................................... 65
THE BASILICA OF ST. FRANCIS ................................................................................... 66
   HISTORICAL NOTES ........................................................................................ 66
LA VERNA ............................................................................................................. 70
   HISTORICAL NOTE .......................................................................................... 70
   The crucified seraph imparts the stigmata onto Francis ................................ 71
   Francis receives the stigmata. ........................................................................ 73
   St. Francis’ Farewell to La Verna .................................................................... 74

         I shall not find Christ at the end of the journey
         unless he accompanies me along the way.
      Retreat Schedule

Tuesday, June 24:
1120 am - Arrive at Rome Airport
3:00 pm - Arrive in Assisi
6:00 pm – Mass and Orientation Meeting – Casa Papa
7:30 pm - Supper at Ristorante gli Orti

Wednesday, June 25:
8:00 am - Breakfast
11:00 am - Eucharist/Conference: Where is Francis,
Bernardone‘s Son? Chapel – Casa Papa Giovanni
1:00 pm - Lunch at Casa Papa Giovanni
6:30 pm - Conference: Francis, Go and Repair My
7:30 pm - Supper out

Thursday, June 26:
8:00 am - Breakfast
9:00 am - Eucharist at the Tomb of Francis
12:00 pm - Conference: ―This is what I want.‖
1:00 pm - Lunch at Casa Papa Giovanni
6:30 pm - Conference: Companions begin to gather
7:30 pm - Supper out

Friday, June 27:
8:00 am - Breakfast
9:00 am - Depart for LaVerna
11:00 am - Eucharist at Sanctuary
1:00 pm - Lunch at LaVerna
3:00 pm - Procession at LaVerna
4:00 pm - Depart for Assisi
7:30 pm – Supper out

Saturday, June 28:
8:00 am - Breakfast
10:00 am - Eucharist (at St. Clare‘s Basilica) and
Conference: Francis: A Man of Asceticism and Penance
11:30 am - Opportunity for the Sacrament of
1:00 pm - Lunch at Casa Papa Giovanni
6:30 pm - Conference: St. Clare: The Privilege of Poverty
Francis: A man of Poverty and Humility
7:30 pm - Supper out

Sunday, June 29:
8:00 am - Breakfast
9:30 am - Conference: Francis: A Man of Gentleness
and Compassion
11:30 am – Eucharist at San Stefano
1:00 pm - Lunch at Casa Papa Giovanni
7:00 pm - Evening Prayer
7:30 pm - Supper out

Monday, June 30:
8:00: am - Breakfast
9:00 am - Departure for Lago Maggiore
6:00 pm - Arrive at Hotel Il Portico, Cannobio
7:30 pm - Dinner at il Portico Hotel

Tuesday, July 1:
8:00 am - Breakfast
9:00 am – Bus tour to Verbania
             Visit the island of Charles Boromeo
1:00 pm - Lunch on your own
             Afternoon free
7:30 pm - Dinner at il Portico Hotel

Wednesday, July 2:
8:00 am - Breakfast
Free Day to take boat rides on the Lake
Lunch on your own
7:30 pm - Dinner at il Portico Hotel

Thursday, July 3:
6:30 am - Breakfast
7:00 am - Depart for Milan airport

                           -- ST. PATRICK’S

             TUESDAY, June 24, 2008
               Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist

A Prayer of Saint Francis
All-powerful, most high, supreme God,
All good, highest good, wholly good who alone are good,
Let us give you all praise, all glory, all thanks, all honor,
All blessing and all that is good.
So be it. So be it. Amen
-Writing of Saint Francis

Entrance Hymn:                        Gather Us In
Here in this place new light is streaming.
Now is the darkness vanished away.
See in this space, our fears and our dreamings,
brought here to you in the light of this day.

Gather us in, the lost and forsaken,
Gather us in, the blind and the lame;
Call to us now and we shall awaken;
We shall arise at the sound of our name.

We are the young, our lives are a mystery,
We are the old who yearn for Your face.
We have been sung throughout all of history,
Called to be light to the whole human race.

Gather us in, the rich and the haughty,
Gather us in, the proud and the strong;
Give us a heart so meek and so lowly;
Give us the courage to enter the song.

First Reading: The Book of the
Prophet Isaiah 49: 1-6
I will make you a light to the nations.

Psalm Response:
One thing I ask, this alone I seek
To dwell in the house of the Lord all my days.
For one day within your temple heals every day alone.
O Lord, bring me to your dwelling.
Second Reading: The Acts of the
Apostles 13: 22-26
John heralded His coming by proclaiming a baptism of

The Gospel according to Luke 1: 57-66, 80
John is his name.

Offertory:                             Ubi Caritas
Ubi Caritas et amor, Ubi Caritas Deus ibi est
Communion Hymn:                       One Bread, One Body
Refrain: One bread, one body, one Lord of all. One cup of
blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one
body in this one Lord.

Gentile or Jew, servant or free,
Woman or man, no more. Refrain…

Many the gifts, many the works.
One in the Lord of all. Refrain…

Grain for the fields, scattered and grown.
Gathered to one for all. Refrain…

Closing Hymn:                                   Peace Prayer
Lord, make me a means of Your peace.
Where there’s hatred grown, let me sow Your love.
Where there’s injury, Lord, let forgiveness be my sword.
Lord make me a means of Your peace.

Lord make me a means of Your peace.
Where there’s doubt and fear, let me sow Your faith.
In this world’s despair, give me hope in You to share.
Lord, make me a means of Your peace.

WEDNESDAY, June 25, 2008

This is what I want.
 This is what I seek.
      I long to do that with all my heart.
                                              Saint Francis

Entrance Hymn:                               Seek Ye First
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And God’s righteousness,
And all these things shall be added unto you.
Allelu, alleluia.

Ask and it shall be opened unto you;
Seek and ye shall find.
Knock and it shall be opened unto you
Allelu, alleluia.
First Reading: The Second Book of
Kings 22: 13; 23: 1-3
He made a covenant before the Lord.

Psalm Response:
My God and my all, how I long to love You,
And give You my heart and give You my soul.


The Gospel according to Matthew 7: 15-20
By their fruits you will know them.

Offertory:                  I Am With You On The
I am with you on the journey, and I will never leave you.
I am with you on the journey, always with you.

Communion Hymn:                            We Have Been
Refrain: We have been told; we’ve seen His face
         And heard His voice alive in our hearts;
         Live in My love with all your hearts.
         As the Father has loved Me so I have loved you.

I am the Vine, you are the branches,
And all who live in Me will bear great fruit. Refrain…

You are My friends, if you keep My Commands.
No longer slaves, I call you friends. Refrain…

No greater love is there than this:
To lay down one’s life for a friend. Refrain…

Closing Hymn:                             Blest Are They
Blest are they, the poor in spirit,
Theirs is the kingdom of God.
Blest are they, full of sorrow,
They shall be consoled.

Refrain: Rejoice and be glad!
         Blessed are you, Holy are you!
         Rejoice and be glad!
         Yours is the kingdom of God.

Blest are they, the lowly ones.
They shall inherit the earth.
Blest are they who hunger and thirst,
They shall have their fill. Refrain..

THURSDAY, June 26, 2008

A New Kind Of Fool
 The Lord has called me into a way of simplicity and
And He has indeed made this way known to me and
All who choose to believe me and follow me.
So I prefer that you not talk to me about any other Rule,
Whether St. Benedict’s or St. Augustine’s or St. Bernard’s,
Nor recommend any other ideal or manner of life than that
Which the Lord in His mercy has revealed and given to
He told me I am to be a new kind of fool in this world.
                           Mirror of Perfection, 68

Entrance Hymn:                           Here I Am Lord
I the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Refrain: Here I am Lord. Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me,
I will hold Your people in my heart.

I the Lord of snow and rain,
I have born My people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them,
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak My words to them.
Whom shall I send? Refrain…

First Reading: The Second Book of Kings 24: 8-17
Captivity to Babylon

Psalm Response:
Yahweh’s Love will last forever.
God’s Faithfulness till the end of time.
Yahweh is a Loving God.
Yahweh, the Faithful One.

The Gospel according to Matthew 7: 21-29
The house built on rock and the house built on sand.

Offertory                            The Lord Is My Song
The Lord is my song; the Lord is my praise,
All my hope comes from God.
The Lord is my song; the Lord is my praise,
God, the wellspring of life.

Communion Hymn:                               Taste and See
Refrain: Taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the
O taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the Lord, of
the Lord.

I will bless the Lord at all times. God’s praise shall always be
on my lips.
My soul shall glory in the Lord for God has been so good to me.

Glorify the Lord with me. Together let us all praise God’s
I called the Lord and God answered me. From all my troubles
God set me free. Refrain…

Worship the Lord all you people. You’ll want for nothing if
you ask.
Taste and see that God is good. In God we need put all our
trust. Refrain…

Closing Hymn:           Peace Is Flowing Like A River
Peace is flowing like a river, flowing out of you and me.
Flowing out into the desert, setting all the captives free.
God’s Love is flowing like a river, flowing out of you and
Flowing out into the desert, setting all the captives free.
God’s Healing’s flowing like a river, flowing out of you and
Flowing out into the desert, setting all the captives free.

FRIDAY, June 27, 2008

True Estimation of Self
Blessed are you, servant of God,
If you do not consider yourself any better
When you are honored and extolled by others
Than when you are considered lowly
And simple and despised;
For what you are before God,
That is what you are, and no more.
                        -Admonition, 19

              Entrance Hymn:                 Table Of Plenty
              Refrain: Come to the Feast of Heaven and
              Earth! Come to the table of plenty.
              God will provide for all that we need, here at
              the table of plenty.

O come and sit at my table, where saints and sinners are friends.
I wait to welcome the lost and lonely to share the cup of my
love. Refrain…

My bread will ever sustain you through days of sorrow and
My wine will flow like a sea of gladness to flood the depths of
your soul. Refrain…

First Reading: The Second Book of Kings 25: 1-12
Thus was Judah exiled from her land.

Psalm Response:
I long for You, O Lord
With all my soul I yearn for You.


The Gospel according to Matthew 8: 1-4
If you wish, you can make me clean.

Offertory:                             Take Up Your Cross
If you lose your life for My sake, you will find it.
If you want to save your life, let it go.
Take up your cross, deny yourself.
Come follow Me, follow Me.

Communion Hymn:                              Be Not Afraid
You shall cross the barren desert but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and they will
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid, I go before you always.
Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters through the sea, you shall not
If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the power of hell and death is at your side.
Know that I am with you through it all. Refrain…

Blessed are your poor, for the kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you that weep and mourn, for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked tongues insult and hate you all because of me,
Blessed, blessed are you! Refrain…

Closing Hymn:                              Canticle of the Sun
Refrain: The Heavens are telling the Glory of God,
and all Creation is shouting for joy.
Come dance in the forest, come play in the field,
and sing, sing to the Glory of the Lord.

Praise for the Sun the bringer of day.
He carries the light of the Lord in his rays.
The Moon and the Stars who light
up the way unto Your Throne. Refrain…

Praise for the wind what blows through the trees,
the sea’s mighty storms, the gentlest breeze.
They blow where they will, they blow where they please,
To please the Lord. Refrain…

SATURDAY, June 28, 2008

Admonition to Peacemakers
The peace which you proclaim with words must dwell
Even more abundantly in your hearts. Do not provoke
Others to anger or give scandal. Rather, let your
Draw them to peace, goodness, and concord.
This is our vocation: to heal wounds, to bind what is
To bring home those who are lost.
                     Legend of the Three Companions, 58

Entrance hymn: Where Charity and Love Prevail
Where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found.
Brought her together by Christ’s love, by love are we thus

With grateful joy and holy fear God’s charity we learn.
Let us with heart and mind and soul now love God in

Forgive we now each other’s faults as we our faults confess.
And let us love each other well in Christian holiness.

First Reading: The Book of
Lamentations 2: 2, 10-14, 18-19
Cry out to the Lord over the fortresses of daughter Zion.

Psalm Response:
We praise You, O Lord, for all Your works are wonderful!
We praise You, O Lord, forever is Your love.


The Gospel according to Matthew 8: 5-17
Many will come from east and west with Abraham, Isaac, and

Offertory Hymn                    Bless The Lord My Soul
Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God’s Holy Name
Bless the Lord, my soul, who leads me into life.

Communion Hymn: See Us Lord About Your Altar
See us Lord about Your altar, tho’ so many we are one;
Many souls by love united in the heart of Christ, Your Son
Hear our prayers, O loving Father. Hear in them Your Son,
Our Lord.
Hear Him speak our love and worship as we sing with one
Wheat and grape contain the meaning. Food and drink He
is to all.
One in Him we kneel adoring, gathered by His loving call.
Members of His Mystic Body, now we know our prayer is
Heard by You because Your children have received the
Eternal Word.

Closing Hymn:                            Sing A New Song
Refrain: Sing a new song unto the Lord. Let your song be
sung from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord. Singing Alleluia.

Yahweh’s people dance for joy, O come before the Lord.
And play for Him on glad tambourines, and let your trumpet
sound. Refrain…

Rise O children from your sleep, your Savior now has come.
He has turned your sorrow to joy, and filled your soul with
song. Refrain…

SUNDAY, June 29, 2008

Prayer Before The Crucifix
Most High, and Glorious God,
Cast your light into the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith, firm hope
Perfect charity and profound humility,
With wisdom and perception, O Lord,
So that I may do what is truly Your Holy Will. Amen
                               -Writing of Saint. Francis

Entrance Hymn:                          Jesus, Come To Us
Refrain: Jesus come to us, lead us to Your Light. Jesus, be
with us, for we need You.

Lord, we come before You. Listen to our prayer.
Fill us all with hope and Your Love. Refrain…

Lord, we come to praise You for Your faithfulness through
You will be with us, this we know. Refrain…

Lord, You give us wonders, Your Glory to all.
We believe in You, come to us. Refrain…

First Reading: The Acts of the Apostles 12: 1-11
Now I know for certain that the Lord rescued me from the hand
of Herod.

Psalm Response:
To You Yahweh, I lift up my soul, O my God.

Second Reading: The Second Letter of Saint Paul
to Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me.

This is the day the Lord has made, Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Alleluia. Let us rejoice and be glad.

The Gospel according to Matthew 16: 13-19
You are Peter and I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of

Offertory                           The Harvest of Justice
May we find richness in the harvest of justice, which Christ
Jesus has ripened for us.
Bread for the journey, bread for the hungry, all for the
Glory and Praise of God.

Communion Hymn: Lord, Who At Thy First Eucharist
Lord, who at thy first Eucharist did pray that all thy
Church might be forever one.
Grant us at every Eucharist to say with longing heart and
soul, “Thy Will be done.”
O may we all one bread, one body be. Through this blest
Sacrament of Unity.

For all thy Church, O Lord, we intercede. Make thou our
sad divisions soon to cease.

Draw us the nearer each, to each we plead, back to the
Church which still that faith doth keep.
O may we all one bread, one body be. Through this blest
Sacrament of Unity.

So, Lord, at length when sacraments shall cease, may we be
one with all thy Church above.
One with thy saints in one unbroken peace. One with thy
saints in one unbounded love.
More blessed still in peace and love to be one with the
Trinity in Unity.

Closing Hymn:                          Blest Be The Lord
Refrain: Blest be the Lord, blest be the Lord, the God of
Mercy, the God who saves.
I shall not fear the dark of night, not the arrow that flies by

God will release me from the nets of all my foes. God will
protect me from their wicked hands.
Beneath the shadow of God’s wings I will rejoice to find a
dwelling place secure. Refrain…

I need not shrink before the terrors of the night, nor stand alone
before the light of day.
No harm shall come to me, no arrow strike me down, no evil
settle in my soul. Refrain…

TUESDAY, July 1, 2008
Entrance Hymn:              Song Of The Body Of Christ
Refrain: We come to share our story, we come to break the
bread, We come to know our rising from the dead

We come as Your people, we come as Your own.
United with each other, love finds a home. Refrain…

We are called to heal the broken, to be hope for the poor.
We are called to feed the hungry at our door. Refrain…

We will live and sing Your praises, Alleluia is our song.
May we live in love and peace our whole life long. Refrain…

First Reading: The Book of the
Prophet Amos 3: 1-8; 4: 11-12
The Lord God speaks – who will not prophesy!

Psalm Response:
Like a Shepherd He feeds His flock
And gathers the lambs in His arms.
Holding them carefully close to His heart, leading them

The Gospel according to Matthew 8: 23-27
Jesus rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Offertory:                       Spirit Of The Living God
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.

Communion Hymn:                        The Cry Of The Poor
Refrain: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
         Blessed be the Lord.

I will bless the Lord at all times, God’s praise ever in my
Let my soul glory in the Lord, for God hears the cry of the poor.

Let the lowly hear and be glad; the Lord listens to their pleas,
And to hearts broken God is near, for God hears the cry of the
poor. Refrain…

Every spirit crushed God will save; will be ransom for their
Will be safe shelter for their fears, for God hears the cry of the
poor. Refrain…
Closing Hymn:                                    The Summons
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?
Lord, Your summons echoes true when You but call my
Let me turn and follow You and never be the same.
In Your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in You and You in me.

WEDNESDAY, July 2, 2008

Entrance Hymn:                       Sing To The Mountains
Refrain: Sing to the mountains, sing to the sea. Raise your
voices, lift your hearts This is the day the Lord has made.
Let all the earth rejoice.

I will give thanks to You, my Lord. You have answered my
You have saved my soul from death. You are my strength and
my song. Refrain…

Holy, holy, holy Lord. Heaven and earth are full of Your glory.

First Reading: The Book of the Prophet Amos 5:
14-15, 21-24
Let justice surge like an unfailing stream.

Psalm Response:
Lord, You have the words of Everlasting Life.


The Gospel according to Matthew 8: 28-34
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?

Offertory                                              Peace
Peace I leave with you, my friends, peace the world cannot
Peace I leave with you, my friends, so that your joy be ever

Communion Hymn:                        Come To The Water
O let all who thirst, let them come to the water,
And let all who have nothing, let them come to the Lord.
Without money, without price.
Why should you pay the price, except for the Lord.

And let all who seek, let them come to the water.
And let all who have nothing, let them come to the Lord.
Without money, without strife.
Why should you spend your life, except for the Lord.

And let all the poor, let them come to the water.
Bring the ones who are laden, bring them all to the Lord.
Bring the children without might.
Easy the load and light. Come to the Lord.

Closing Hymn:                 Let There Be Peace On
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father, we are family. Let us walk with
each other In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment and live each moment in peace
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

II -- Pilgrimage Reflections



Francis goes on Pilgrimage to Rome and experiences the

At this time (Francis) happened to go to Rome on pilgrimage,
and in the church of Saint Peter he noticed that many people
left what seemed to him very inadequate offerings. He said to
himself: ―Surely, the greatest honor is due to the Prince of the
Apostles; how then can some folk leave such meager alms in
the church where his body rests?‖ Full of fervor he took a
handful of money from his purse and threw it in through a
grating in the altar; the coins made such a clatter that those
present heard it and were greatly astonished at such

 Francis then left the church, and on the steps before the
entrance a number of beggars were asking for money from
those who came and went. Francis quietly borrowed the
clothes of one of these beggars, changing into them from his
own, and, dressed in rags, he stood on the steps with the
others, asking for alms in French, a language he delighted to
speak, though he did not know it very well.

After a while he changed back into his own garments and
returned to Assisi, devoutly praying that the Lord would show
him the right path.


Francis prays at the Tomb of Peter for the treasure of holy

Afterward, St. Francis said to Brother Masseo: ―My dear
companion, let us go Rome, to St. Peter and St. Paul, and let

us pray to them to teach us and help us to possess the infinite
treasure of holy poverty.

―….Let us pray to the very holy Apostles of Christ, who were
perfect lovers of the pearl of the Gospel, and they may procure
this grace for us from our Lord Jesus Christ: that He who was
an observer and teacher of holy poverty may by His most holy
mercy grant that we may be worthy to be true lovers and
observers and humble followers of the most precious and
beloved poverty of the Gospel.‖

When they arrived in Rome, conversing like that, they entered
St. Peter‘s Church. And St. Francis went into one corner of the
church and Brother Masseo to another, to pray to God and his
holy Apostles that they might instruct and help them to possess
the treasure of holy poverty. And they prayed for it a long time
with great devotion and many tears. And while they were
persisting humbly in prayer, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul
appeared in great splendor to St. Francis. And embracing and
kissing him, they said: “Brother Francis, because you request
and desire to observe what Christ and the holy Apostles
observed, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself has sent us to
announce to you that your desire is fulfilled and your prayer is
answered, and that the treasure of very holy poverty is perfectly
granted to you and your followers. And on behalf of Christ we
say to you that whoever by your example perfectly follows this
desire shall be assured of the happiness of everlasting life.
And you and all your followers shall be blessed by God.” And
after saying those words they disappeared, leaving St. Francis
full of consolation.

Thomas of Celano, First Life, 32 - 33

Francis seeks approval for a rule of life.

        When Blessed Francis saw that the Lord God was daily
        adding to their number, he wrote for himself and his
        brothers, present and to come, simply and with few
        words, a form of life and rule, using for the most part the
        words of the holy Gospel, for the perfection of which

       alone he yearned. But he did insert a few other things
       that were necessary to provide for a holy way of life. He
       then came to Rome with all the aforementioned
       brothers, desiring very much that what he had written
       should be confirmed by the lord Pope Innocent III….

       It was Pope Innocent III who was at that time at the
       head of the Church, a famous man, greatly learned,
       renowned in discourse, burning with zeal for justice in
       the things that the cause of the Christian faith
       demanded. When he had come to know the wishes of
       these men of God, he first examined the matter, then
       gave assent to their request and carried out all that had
       to be done; exhorting them concerning many things and
       admonishing them, he blessed St. Francis and his
       brothers and said to them: ―Go with the Lord, brothers,
       and as the Lord will deign to inspire you, preach
       penance to all. Then, when the almighty Lord shall give
       you increase in number and in grace, return to me with
       joy, and I will add many more things to these and
       entrust greater things to you with greater confidence‖

Legend of the Three Companions, 47-51

       When Francis and the brothers arrived in Rome they
       found there the Bishop of Assisi who welcomed them
       most gladly…The Bishop was a friend of the Cardinal of
       Sabina, known as the Lord John of Saint Paul…who
       went to the Curia and spoke to Innocent III: ―I have
       found a most excellent man who desires to live
       according to the form of the Gospel and in everything to
       observe evangelical perfection. I am convinced that
       through this man our Lord wills to renew the faith of the
       Holy Church in the whole world.‖ The Pope was very
       astonished at these words and bade the Cardinal to
       bring blessed Francis to him.

        Before Francis appeared, Innocent had a vision that the
        church of Saint John Lateran was only saved from
        falling by being upheld on the shoulder of a small,
        insignificant man. He had awakened depressed and
        surprised, and, being wise and discreet, he had
        pondered long on the meaning of the vision. A few
        days later blessed Francis and the brothers came to
        him, and, as we have already explained, he learned the
        reason of their visit; and blessed Francis appealed to
        him for the confirmation of the rule, which he had written
        in brief and simple words, taken for the most part from
        the Gospel texts, and which he and his brothers strove
        with all their strength to put perfectly into practice.
        Then, when the Pope looked at Francis and saw him
        fervent in the love and service of God, in his own mind
        he compared his vision of the Lateran with that related
        by Francis and he began to say to himself: ―This is
        surely a holy and religious man by whom, the church of
        God will be supported and upheld.‖ Then he embraced
        Francis and approved the rule he had written, and gave
        him permission to preach penance to all; and this
        permission was extended to all the brothers who had
        the approval of Francis.

Major legend of St. Bonaventure IX, 5 - 7

        Francis desires martyrdom.

        In the fervor of his love, Francis felt inspired to imitate
        the glorious victory of the martyrs in whom the fire of
        love could not be extinguished or their courage broken.
        Inflamed with that perfect love ―which drives our fear‖
        (I John 4, 18), he longed to offer himself as a living
        victim to God by the sword of martyrdom; in this way he
        would repay Christ for his love in dying for us and
        inspire others to love God. In the sixth year of his
        religious life he decided to go to Syria to preach
        repentance and belief in Christ to the Muslims….

When he left the coast, Francis went on a missionary
journey about the countryside, sowing everywhere the
seed of salvation and reaping an abundant harvest.
However, the prize of martyrdom still attracted him so
strongly that the thought of dying for Christ meant more
to him than any merit he might earn by the practice of
virtue. Therefore, he took the road towards Morocco
with the intention of preaching the Gospel of Christ to
the sultan and his subjects, hoping to win the palm of
victory in this way….

Still his passionate love urged him on, and a third time
he set out to preach faith in the Trinity among the
pagans by shedding his blood. In the thirteenth year of
his religious life he made his way to Syria where he
courageously surmounted all dangers in order to reach
the presence of the sultan of Egypt….


      This valley is the scene of some of Francis‘ first
      preaching efforts. It is probably from this valley that
      Francis sent out the brothers to preach for a first time –
      after returning from Rome and Innocent III‘s approval of
      their way of life.

      Francis seeks a cure for his eye disease. A Valley of
      Healing Ministry.

      Francis loved mountains. Feel and sense his spirit
      stretching for God Most High.

      God comforts Francis with heavenly music.         Francis‘
      love for music.

      This valley is starred in the form of a cross by four
      Franciscan sanctuaries: Poggio Bustone where Francis
      knew the experience of Redemption (cf. IC 26); Greccio
      where he re-enacted Bethlehem and forever changed
      the way the world celebrates Christmas; Fonte Colombo
      where Francis wrote the Franciscan Rule of Life; and La
      Foresta (the friars in this region would like to claim that
      here he composed the Canticle of Brother Sun). With
      the exception of Assisi and La Verna, no other places in
      Italy are so full of memories of St. Francis.

The Legend of Perugia, LP 85

Francis teaches by example.

      In those days, Blessed Francis was living at the
      hermitage of St. Eleutherius, not far from Contigliano, in
      the district of Rieti. Since he was wearing but one tunic
      and it was extremely cold, he was obliged to line the
      inside of it; so did his companion. His body felt some
      relief from this. A short time after, as he had just

       finished his prayer, overjoyed, he said to his
       companion: ―I must be a model and an example to all
       the brothers. Therefore, although my body needs a
       lined tunic, I must think of my brothers who are
       experiencing the same need and who do not have or
       cannot procure for themselves a like tunic. I must
       therefore put myself in their place and share their
       privations, so that they may endure them patiently
       because they see the way I live.‖

       We who lived with him cannot say how many numerous
       and urgent needs he refused his body, both in food and
       clothing, in order to give good example to the brothers
       and thereby help them to bear their poverty more
       patiently. At all times, but especially when the brothers
       had multiplied and when he had resigned from his post
       as superior, blessed Francis‘ main concern was to
       teach the brothers, more by his actions than by his
       words, what they ought to do and what they ought to


       We remember here, above everything else, the
       Christmas celebration of 1223. This popularized, ever
       since, the practice of displaying the Christmas creche.

       Greccio offers another mountain retreat where Francis
       experienced solitude.

       Francis celebrated Easter here and offered the brothers
       a lesson in poverty.

1. Chapel of the Presepio. The most famous event at Greccio
   took place on Christmas Eve. 1223, and thus the focal point
   of the entire sanctuary is the Chapel of St. Luke or Chapel
   of the Presepio. This is a natural cave; Francis came back
   to Rieti after the long and wearisome business in Rome
   (Rule). At Greccio he found peace.

Thomas of Celano, Second Life, 35

       Francis’ love for Greccio.

       Francis liked to stay at the brothers‘ place at Greccio,
       both because he saw that it was rich by reason of its
       poverty and because he could give himself more freely
       to heavenly things in a more secluded cell hewn from a
       projecting rock. Here is that place where he brought
       back to memory the birthday of the Child of Bethlehem,
       becoming a child with that Child.

Thomas of Celano, First Life, 84 - 87

       Francis is inspired to reenact the events of Bethlehem.

       What (Francis) did on the birthday of our Lord Jesus
       Christ near the little town called Greccio in the third year
       before his glorious death should especially be noted
       and recalled with reverent memory. In that place there
       was a certain man by the name of John, of good
       reputation and an even better life, whom blessed
       Francis loved with a special love,….Blessed Francis
       sent for this man, as he often did, about fifteen days
       before the birth of the Lord, and he said to him: ―If you
       want us to celebrate the present feast of our Lord at
       Greccio, go with haste and diligently prepare what I tell
       you. For I wish to do something that will recall to
       memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem and
       set before our bodily eyes in some way the
       inconveniences of his infant needs, how he lay in a
manger, how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he lay
upon the hay where he had been placed.‖ When the
good and faithful man heard these things he ran with
haste and prepared in that place all the things the saint
had told him.

But the day of joy drew near; the time of great rejoicing
came. The brothers were called from their various
places. Men and women of that neighborhood prepared
with glad hearts, according to their means, candles and
torches to light up that night that has lighted up all the
days and years with its gleaming star. At length the
saint of God came, and finding all things prepared, he
saw it and was glad. The manger was prepared, the
hay had been brought, the ox and ass were led in. Their
simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility
was commended, and Greccio was made, as it were, a
new Bethlehem. The night was lighted up like the day,
and it delighted men and beasts. The people came and
were filed with new joy over the new mystery. The
woods rang with the voices of the crowd and the rocks
made answer to their jubilation. The brothers sang,
paying their debt of praise to the Lord, and the whole
night resounded with their rejoicing. The saint of God
stood before the manger, uttering sighs, overcome with
love, and filled with a wonderful happiness. The
solemnities of the Mass were celebrated over the
manger and the priest experienced a new consolation.

The saint of God was clothed with the vestments of the
deacon, for he was a deacon, and he sang the holy
Gospel in a sonorous voice. …. Then he preached to
the people standing about, and he spoke charming
words concerning the nativity of the poor King and the
little town of Bethlehem. …. The gifts of the Almighty
were multiplied there, and a wonderful vision was seen
by a certain virtuous man. For he saw a little child lying

in the manger lifeless, and he saw the holy man of God
go up to it and rouse the child as from a deep sleep.
This vision was not unfitting, for the Child Jesus had
been forgotten in the hearts of many; but, by the
working of his grace, he was brought to life again
through his servant St. Francis and stamped upon their
fervent memory. At length the solemn night celebration
was brought to a close, and each one returned to his
home with joy.

Thomas of Celano, Second Life, 1

Easter at Greccio: A lesson in poverty.

It happened one Easter that the brothers at the
hermitage of Greccio prepared the table more carefully
than they usually did with white linens and glassware.
Coming down from his cell, the father came to the table
and saw that it was placed high and decorated
extravagantly. But he did not smile at the smiling table.
Stealthily and little by little he retraced his steps, put on
the hat of a poor man who was there, and taking a staff
in his hand, he went outside. He waited outside at the
door until the brothers began to eat; for they were in the
habit of not waiting for him when he did not come at the
signal. When they had begun to eat, this truly poor man
cried out at the door: ―For the love of the Lord God,‖ he
said, ―give an alms to this poor, sick wanderer.‖ The
brothers answered: ―Come in, man, for love of him
whom you have invoked.‖ He immediately entered and
appeared before them as they were eating. But what
astonishment, do you think, the beggar caused these
inhabitants? The beggar was given a dish, and sitting
alone, he put the dish in the ashes. ―Now I am sitting as
a Friar Minor should sit,‖ he said. And to the brothers
he said: ―We should be moved by the examples of
poverty of the Son of God more than other religious. I
saw the tables prepared and decorated, and I knew it
was not the table of the poor men who beg from door to

       Fonte Colombo

       Francis, with companions, puts together the final
       version of the Franciscan Rule of Life. Rome gives
       approval, November 29, 1223.

       Francis undergoes the cauterization of his eyes
       (January 1226?)

       Francis came to Fonte Colombo for solitude. One sees
       vestiges of the Rule for Religious Life in Hermitages
       concretized here: some caves or shelters along the side
       of the mountain, the little church bell atop in Chapel of
       Mary Magdalene which Francis rang to call the brothers
       out of solitude and into common prayer.

       This densely wooded mountain was formerly called
       Monte Rainerio. Francis first visited it in 1217. Origin of
       the name: it is derived from fons columbarum (Fonte
       Colombo, fountain of the doves), a name which tradition
       says Francis himself gave to the spring located in the
       woods of the sanctuary, when he stepped through a
       thicket and spied a beautiful spring of fresh water
       gushing out from beneath a high cliff. It probably had
       been the property of the Benedictines of Farfa, who
       then donated it to the Friars Minor.

       Two important events took place here: (1) Francis, with
       consultation from his companions and fellow brothers,
       puts together the final version of the Franciscan Rule of
       Life, before taking it to Rome for approval (autumn
       1223); (2) Eye operation of cauterization, very likely in
       January 1226, which happened in the hermitage
       existing at the time.

2. Chapel of Our Lady, Chapel of Mary Magdalene. It is the
   most perfect example of a primitive Franciscan church left
   to us. It was in existence at the time of Francis, having
   been built in the 12th century or earlier. Note the small bell

   rung by Francis to summon friars in solitude to common
   prayer. The small altar is thought to be original. On the
   window to the left there is the letter T (Tau), which
   authorities hold was drawn by St. Francis himself. It was
   discovered in the early 1920‘s when the window was
   opened after having been blocked for probably several
   hundred years.

3. The Tau Cross: As the pilgrim leaves through the main
   doors of the Upper basilica of St. Francis, one many be
   struck by the particular design hedged in the front lawn.
   The Tau Cross, a common symbol of the Franciscan Order
   and encountered all over Assisi, deserves explanation.

   In the year 1215 Pope Innocent III called for a great reform
   of the Roman Catholic Church – the Fourth Lateran
   Council. The Pope opened the Council by recalling the Old
   Testament image of the Tau as taken from the Prophet
   Ezekiel 9: 4: “We are called to reform our lives, to come into
   the presence of God as righteous people. God will know us
   by the sign of the Tau marked on our foreheads.”

   Although the Pope was probably recalling the Hebrew text
   of Ezekiel from a Greek translation of the Bible, the
   allegorical imagery as taken from the two different language
   sources was powerfully significant all the same.

   In Old Testament times the image of the Tau, as the last
   letter of the Hebrew alphabet, meant that we were
   admonished to be faithful to God throughout our lives, until
   the end. Those who remained faithful were called the
   remnant of Israel, often the poor and simple people who
   trusted in God even without understanding the present
   distress or hardship in their lives.

   This symbolic imagery, used by the same Pope who
   commissioned the Order of Friars Minor a brief five years
   earlier, was immediately taken to heart by Francis who was
   in attendance at the Fourth Lateran Council. The Tau,
   shaped like the letter ―I‖ in the Greek alphabet, could easily
   be identified with the cross of Christ and therefore, from
   that day forward instead of signing his name, Francis would
   use the sign of the Tau as his signature. It was a further
   external gesture of his complete immersion in the passion
   of Christ.

   Today, followers of Francis, as laity or religious, would wear
   the Tau cross as an exterior sign, a ―seal‖ of their own
   commitment, a remembrance of the victory of Christ over
   evil in daily self-sacrificing love. The sign of contradiction
   has become the sign of hope, a witness of fidelity till the
   end of our lives.

Mirror of Perfection 1

      Francis and the Rule.

      After the second Rule written by blessed Francis had
      been lost, he went up a mountain (Monte Colombo,
      near Rieti) with Brother Leo of Assisi and Brother
      Bonizo of Bologna, to draw up another, and under the
      guidance of Christ he had it written down. But many
      ministers came in a body to Brother Elias, the Vicar of
      blessed Francis, and said: ―We hear that Brother
      Francis is drawing up a new Rule, and we fear that he
      will make it so harsh that it will be impossible for us to
      keep it. So we would like you to go and tell him that we
      are not willing to be bound by this Rule.

      Let him make it for himself, and not for us. But Elias
      feared a rebuke from the holy Father, and refused to go.
      And when they all pressed him, he said that he would
      not go without them, so they all went together.

      When Brother Elias approached the place where
      blessed Francis was standing, he called to him. And
      when he had answered and saw the Ministers, he
      asked. ―What do these Brothers want?‖ Brother Elias
      said, ―They are Ministers, who hear that you are
      drawing up a new Rule, and they fear that you intend to

make it too harsh. They refuse to be bound by it, and
ask you to make it for yourself, and not for them.‖

At this blessed Francis raised his face to heaven and
spoke to Christ, saying, ―Lord, was I not right when I
said that they would not believe me?‖ And all present
heard Christ answer from heaven, ‗ Francis, nothing in
this Rule is yours; for all is mine. I wish the Rule to be
obeyed to the letter, to the letter, without gloss, without
gloss. I know what the frailty of man can achieve, and I
know how much I intend to help them. So let those who
are not willing to obey the Rule leave the Order.‘

Then blessed Francis turned to the friars and said, ‗You
have heard! You have heard! You have heard! Do you
want this to be repeated?‘ And the Ministers confessed
their fault and went away confused and terrified.

Thomas of Celano, Second Life, 166

Eye Cauterization.

At the time when Francis suffered the infirmity of his
eyes and was persuaded to permit treatment of them, a
doctor was called to the place. When he came, he
brought an iron for cauterizing and ordered it to be put
into the fire until it should be red-hot. But the blessed
father, strengthening his body now struck with horror,
spoke thus to the fire: ―My brother fire, that surpasses
all other things in beauty, the Most High created you
strong, beautiful and useful. Be kind to me in this hour,
be courteous. For I have loved you in the past in the
Lord. I beseech the great Lord who made you that he
temper your heat now so that I may bear it when you
burn me gently.‖ When his prayer was ended, he made
the sign of the cross over the fire and then remained
fearless. The doctor took the glowing and hot iron in his
hands; all the brothers, overcome by human weakness,
fled; and the saint offered himself joyfully and eagerly to
the iron. The iron was plunged into the tender flesh with
a hiss, and it was gradually drawn from the ear to the
eyebrow in its cauterizing. How much pain that fire
caused, the words of the saint himself, who knows best,
testify. For when the brothers who had fled returned,
the father said, smiling: ―O fainthearted and weak of
heart, why did you flee? In truth I say to you, I did not
feel either the heat of the fire or any pain in my flesh.‖
And turning to the doctor, he said: ―If my flesh is not
sufficiently burned, burn it again.‖ The doctor, knowing
that in similar cases the experience was much different,
proclaimed it a miracle from God, saying: ―I say to you,
brothers, I have seen wonderful things today.‖ I believe
that he had returned to primitive innocence, for whom,
when he wished it, cruel things were made gentle.

First Order:

Chapter 1‖ The Rule and Life of the Friars Minor is this,
namely, to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus
Christ by living in obedience, without property, and in
chastity. Brother Francis promises obedience and
reverence to his holiness Pope Honorius and his
lawfully elected successors and to the Church of Rome.
The other friars are bound to obey Brother Francis and
his successors.

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Philippians

I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the
surpassing treasure of knowing Jesus Christ, for whose
sake I have forfeited everything. I have accounted all
else rubbish so that Christ may be my wealth and I may
be in him, not having any justice of my own based on
observance of the law. The justice I possess is that
which comes through faith in Christ. It has its origin in
God and is based on faith. I wish to know Christ and
the power flowing from the resurrection; likewise to
know how to share in Christ’s sufferings by being
formed into the pattern of his death. Thus do I hope to
arrive at resurrection from the dead. It is not that I have
reached it yet, or have already finished my course; but I
am racing to grasp the prize if possible, since I have
been grasped by Christ Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, I do not think of myself as having
reached the finish line. I give no thought to what lies
behind put push on to what is ahead. My entire
attention is on the finish line as I am toward the prize to
which God calls me----life on high in Christ Jesus. The
Word of the Lord.

Assisi Dawn

By F. and J. Line

We awoke to a golden dawn.

The quiet of beautiful Assisi lay around us,

Transforming everything.

We stood at the window and marveled

At the light and shadows playing

Across the Umbrian Plains below,

With Perugia in the distance, high on its hill.

A City of Ancient Days.

Church bells tolled our spirits awake

And birds caroled their songs to our ears.

The City began to stir.

Francis, of this Italian hillside village,

Once strode through its streets,

And sang his songs,

Preached to the birds,

Became its messenger of gladness!

We felt his spirit filling us

With the wonder of his life,

And we stepped forth

To the wonder of our own!

The glorious golden glow of dawn

Trims the whole world

With halos!

(F. & H. Line, MAN WITH A SONG, image Books:
Garden City, New York, 1982, p. 102)

The Home of Francis Bernardone

In 1182 Francis was born here (Francescuccio) and
lived for 25 years.

This is Francis‘ family home. Here he developed a
specified relationship with his father and mother.

Francis left here to go to war with Perugia. He dreams
of military victory and of becoming a magnificent knight.

In 1206 Pietro Bernadone imprisoned Francis for selling
his goods. Lady Pica, his mother, set him free.

His father‘s shop (at street level) is where Francis
encountered a beggar.


The present church of CHIESA NUOVA was built in
1619 by Philip III of Spain supposedly on the site of the
house of Pietro Bernadone, where Francis spent his
early childhood, but this is contested. The church
contains some relics of the saint and is dedicated to
―The Converted Francis.‖

Immediately to the left of the entrance is a small
opening in the pilaster supporting the central dome.
This is supposedly the dark cell in which Francis was
shut up by his father after selling bales of cloth for the
restoration of San Damiano.

On the other side is the original door of the Casa
Bernadone protected by a grill. Cf.L3S 2.

The high altar and sanctuary are said to be constructed
on the site of the actual room lived in by Francis. Cf.
L3S 5; 2Cel 6; LMI 3.
Existing by a door to the left, you can go down a flight of
stairs, past the old entrance to Francis‘ house, to what
seems to have been the shop of Bernadone, where
Francis undoubtedly worked.           The cloister really
enclosed an old medieval lane. Cf.LMI 1-2; L3S 3.

Francescuccio is the name given to a small chapel that
was, according to legend, the stable in which Lady Pica
gave birth to her son. See inscription over the door.

Unfortunately, this legend is not older than the 15th
century. It says that: While Madonna Pica‘s hour with
Francis had come, the child could not be born. Then a
pilgrim knocked at the door, and when it was opened,
said the child would not be born until the mother left the
beautiful bedroom, went into stable, and there lay upon
the straw in one of the stalls. This was done and hardly
was the change effected when the heart-rending cries
of the mother ceased, and she bore a son, whose first
cradle, like that of the Savior, was a manger full of straw
in a stable.‖

Bartholomew of Pisa, who wrote the Liber
Conformitatum at the end of the 15th century, knew
nothing of this story. On the other hand, Benozzo
Gozzoli, in the year 1452, painted the birth in the stable
upon the walls of the church of St. Francis in
Montefalco; and Sedulius, whose Historia seraphica
appeared in Antwerp in the year 1613, says that he saw
the stable in Assisi converted into a chapel.

House of Bernard of Quintavalle

The only thing we know about this house is taken from
L3S 27-28 and parallels. The house is below the
Piazza del Comune, on Via Bernardo da Quintavalle.
Almost across the street is a church which the Bishop of

Assisi has given over to the Protestants for their

Arnaldo Fortini in his biography of Francis adds:

Bernardo‘s house stood within the bishop‘s citadel. A
portion of it can still be seen, its windows now walled
up, standing among other centuries-old houses, its
arches of rose-colored stone (of recent construction)
like reminders of ancient gaiety in their contrast to the
dark color of the façade. There used to be a piazza in
front of the house called the piazza of San Gregorio.

Across from Bernardo‘s house is the church of San
Gregorio …It is reached from the Piazza del Commune
by an alleyway that goes down among ancient houses
that are warmed by the flames of carnations. Clumps of
wild flowers climb all the way up through the rough
wood canopy of the majesty on the side of the
church…we are in the heart of the old Roman city….
Dreams and memories flutter through the peace of the
narrow and torturous street, which is lined by walled-up
doors of ancient shops that one time rang with the work
of artisans.

Legend of the Three Companions, 27 - 29

The truth of Francis‘ teaching was brought home to
people by the simplicity of his way of life, and two years
after his own conversion several men were drawn to
follow his example of penitence, and they left everything
in order to join him. The first of these was Brother
Bernard of holy memory. He well knew how luxuriously
Francis had lived in the world; therefore, when he saw
how he labored to restore ruined churches and what a
harsh life he led, Bernard too resolved to sell his
possessions and give all to the poor. It seemed to him
the will of God that he should follow Francis in clothing
and his whole manner of life. With this in mind he went
one day secretly to see God‘s servant and opened his
heart to him also inviting him to come that evening and
lodge in his house.
Francis joyfully gave thanks to God, because so far he
had no companions and Master Bernard was a virtuous
and godly man. Therefore, as arranged, he went to
Bernard’s house and remained there all night in great
joy of heart. Bernard put a question to him: ―If a man
receives from God few or many possessions and,
having enjoyed them for a number of years, now no
longer wishes to retain them, what would be the best
thing for him to do?‖ Blessed Francis answered that in
that case it were better for the man to give back to God
what he had received; to which Master Bernard
rejoined: ―Then, Brother, I will give all my worldly goods
to the poor for love of God, who gave them to me,
according as you may think best.‖ And blessed Francis
said to him: ―Tomorrow early we will go to church; and
as the Lord taught his disciples, we will learn from the
book of the Gospel what to do.‖

Therefore, they rose early; and with another man
named Peter, who also wished to join them, they went
to the church of Saint Nicholas near the chief square of
the city. They went in to pray, but, being simple men,
they did not know how to find the passage in the Gospel
telling of the renunciation of the world. Therefore, they
sought God‘s will the first time they opened the book.
When their prayer was ended, blessed Francis,
kneeling before the altar, took the closed book, opened
it and saw written: ―If you wish to be perfect, go, sell
what you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have
treasure in heaven (MT 19,21).

At this blessed Francis gave thanks to God with great
joy; but because of his devotion to the blessed Trinity,
he desired a threefold confirmation of the words and
opened the book of the Gospel a second and third time.
At the second opening he read: Take nothing for your
journey (LK 9,3) and as the third: If any will come after
me, let them deny themselves (MT 16,24). Each time he
opened the book blessed Francis gave thanks to God
for his threefold confirmation of the resolution and
desire which he had long held in his heart; and he said

to the aforementioned Bernard and Peter: ―O Brothers,
this is our life and rule and the life and rule of all those
who may wish to join us. Go, therefore, and act on what
you have heard.‖

So Master Bernard, who was very rich, sold all his
possessions, and distributed a great deal of money to
the poor of the city. Peter too, according to his means,
followed our Lord‘s counsel. Having sold everything,
these two both took the habit of poverty which blessed
Francis had already adopted when he abandoned the
life of a hermit; and from then on, he and they lived
according to the precept of the holy Gospel as the Lord
had shown them. Because of this Francis said in his
Testament: ―The Lord himself showed me that I should
live according to the holy Gospel.‖

On the outskirts of Assisi, halfway down the hillside to
the plain, is the church of San Damiano. Francis
prayed before the crucifix in this dilapidated church in
1205 when he received the message to ―Go, repair my
house.‖ Around 1206 Francis and some of his first
followers did restore this rustic church dedicated to Sts.
Cosmos and Damian.

In 1212 Francis brought Clare and her companions to
this place, and they made it their monastery. Francis
composed the Canticle of Brother Sun here in 1225
when he was ill. Clare died here in 1253, and her
sisters remained here until 1260, when they removed
the precious body of their foundress to the new church
and convent of Santa Chiara within the confines of the

We do not know the exact time the friars moved into
San Damiano---probably about 1270. For a time this
was the provincialate of the Umbrian province of Santa
Chiara. Presently it is the novitiate for a number of
Italian Provinces, so the spirit of decision and
responding to the call of Jesus is still very much alive at
San Damiano.


1. Most High, all-powerful, good Lord. You are the praises, the
   glory, the honor, and all blessing.

2. To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no person is
   worthy to mention your name.

3. Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially
   Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You
   give us light.

4. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and
   bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

5. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the
   stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and

6. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and
   through the air, cloudy and serene, and every king of
   weather through which You give sustenance to Your

7. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is
   very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

8. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through
   whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful
   and robust and strong.

9. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
   who sustains and governs us, and who produces varied
   fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

10. Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon
    for Your love and bear infirmity and tribulation.

11. Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most
    High, they shall be crowned.

12. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
   from whom no living person can escape.

13. Woe to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those
    whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second
    death shall do them no harm.

       Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and
       serve Him great humility.

       WORKS, trans. And intro. By Regis Armstrong OFM
       Cap and Ignatius Brady OFM, pp. 38 -39.)

       San Damiano

       Thomas of Celano, First Life, 8 - 9

       Francis offers money to the priest at San Damiano.

       When, therefore, he neared the city of Assisi, he
       discovered a certain church along the way that had
       been built of old in honor of St. Damian but which was
       now threatening to collapse because it was so old.

       When this new soldier of Christ came up to this church,
       moved with pity over such great need, he entered it with
       fear and reverence. And when he found there a certain
       poor priest, he kissed his sacred hands with a great
       faith, and offered him the money he had with him telling
       him in order what he proposed to do. The priest was
       astonished and, wondering over a conversion so
       incredibly sudden, he refused to believe what he heard.
And because he thought he was being deceived, he
refused to keep the money offered him… In the end the
priest acquiesced to his remaining there, but out of fear
of the young man‘s parents, he did not accept the
money; whereupon this true condemner of money threw
it upon a windowsill….

Legend of the Three Companions, 13

Message from the San Damiano Crucifix.

One day while Francis was fervently imploring God‘s
mercy, the Lord revealed to him that he would shortly
be taught what he was to do. From that moment he
was so full of joy that, beside himself for gladness, he
would let fall occasional words of his secret for all to
hear. This happened in spite of his habitual caution; ….
His companions noticed how changed he was; and
indeed his heart was already far from them, even
though occasionally he accepted their company. They
tried to probe into his mind and again asked whether he
was thinking of marrying, and as before he answered in
a figure of speech: ―I shall bring home a bride more
beautiful, richer, and nobler than any you have ever

A few days after this, while he was walking near the
church of San Damiano, an inner voice bade him go in
and pray. He obeyed, and kneeling before an image of
the crucified Savior, he began to pray most devoutly. A
tender, compassionate voice then spoke to him:
“Francis, do you not see that my house is falling to ruin?
Go, and repair it for me.” Trembling and amazed
Francis replied: ―Gladly I will do so, O Lord.‖ He had
understood that the Lord was speaking of that very
church which, on account of its age, was indeed falling
to ruin.

These words filled him with the greatest joy and inner
light because in spirit he knew that it was indeed Jesus
Christ who had spoken to him. On leaving the church
he found the priest who had charge of sitting outside,
and taking a handful of money from the purse, he said:
―I beg you, Sir, to buy oil and keep the lamp before the
image of Christ constantly alight. When this is spent I
will give you as much as you need.‖

Legend of the Three Companions, 16

Francis escapes from his father, lives with the priest.

Filled with joy at the vision and words of Christ crucified,
Francis took various pieces of cloth of different colors
for sale in the city of Foligno, and he sold not only the
wares, but also the horse he was riding. He then
returned to the Church of San Damiano, found the poor
priest, and kissing his hands, told him of what he
proposed to do.

The priest was astounded at Francis‘ sudden
conversion and at first he did not believe in it. Thinking
Francis to be joking, he refused the proffered money,
and this was due to the fact that not long before he had
seen Francis having a good time with his relatives and
friends. Francis insisted more urgently and begged the
priest to receive him as a guest for the love of God.
Finally the priest consented to his staying on, but, for
fear of Francis‘ relatives, he would on no account
accept the money; whereupon Francis threw the coins
in through the window, so truly had he come to despise
all gain.

While Francis was staying in the priest‘s house, his
father went round inquiring for news of his son. When
he heard what had happened and where Francis was,
calling together his friends and neighbors, he hurried off
to find him. Francis was still a recent recruit in the
service of Christ; and when he heard of the threats of
his pursuers, foreseeing their arrival, he hid from his
father‘s anger by creeping into a secret cave, which he
had prepared as a refuge. There he stayed for a whole
month; and only one person in his father‘s house knew
of his hiding place. He ate the food brought to him
secretly and prayed continually with many tears that the
Lord would deliver him from such persecution and grant
him the fulfillment of his desire.

Legend of the Three Companions, 24

Francis restores San Damiano.

In the meanwhile he was working steadily at restoring
the church, and, because he wished that the light
should be kept burning, he went through the city
begging for oil. On approaching one house he saw a
number of men busy playing and gambling; and
overcome by shyness he turned away being ashamed
to go in and beg from them. But then he thought better
of it, and accusing himself of sin, he hurried back to the
place, went in, and confessed his fault to all the
company, how he had been ashamed to ask them for
alms. He entered the house in fervor of spirit for love of
God, and begged in French for oil for the Church of San

While working there with other men, he called out loudly
and joyfully in French to the passers-by ―Come and help
us do this work for the Church of Saint Damian which
will become a monastery of women whose life and fame
will cause our heavenly Father to be universally

In these words filled with the spirit of prophecy, he
foretold the future, for this is the holy place in which the
excellent order of Poor Ladies and holy virgins was to
flourish. This came about some six years after the
conversion of blessed Francis, and their excellent
manner of life and glorious institution was duly
approved by the Lord Pope Gregory IX of blessed
memory, at that time Bishop of Ostia; and his decision
was confirmed by the authority of the Apostolic See.

Saint Clare

                      LETTERS OF ST. CLARE

                    TO ST. AGNES OF PRAGUE

                           FIRST LETTER

To the esteemed and most holy virgin, Lady Agnes, daughter of
the most excellent and illustrious King of Bohemia: Clare, an
unworthy servant of Jesus Christ and a useless servant (cf. LK
17,10) of the enclosed Ladies of the Monastery of San
Damiano, her subject and servant in all things, presents herself
totally with a special reverence that she attain the glory of
everlasting happiness (cf. SIR 50,5).

As I hear of the fame of Your holy conduct and irreproachable
life, which is known not only to me but to the entire world as
well, I greatly rejoice and exult in the Lord (HAB 3, 18). I am
not alone in rejoicing at such great news, but (I am joined by)
all who serve and seek to serve Jesus Christ. For, though You,
more than others, could have enjoyed the magnificence and
honor and dignity of the world and could have been married to
the illustrious emperor with splendor befitting You and His
Excellency. You have rejected all these things and have
chosen with Your whole heart and soul a life of holy poverty
and destitution. Thus, You took a spouse of a more lineage,
Who will keep Your virginity ever unspotted and unsullied, the
Lord Jesus Christ.

―When You have loved (Him), Your are chaste; when You have
touched (Him) You become more pure; when You have
accepted (Him), You are a virgin.

Whose power is stronger, Whose generosity more abundant,
Whose appearance more beautiful, Whose love more tender,
Whose courtesy more gracious.

In Whose embrace You are already caught up; Who has
adorned Your breast with precious stones and has placed
priceless pearls on Your ears and has surrounded You with
sparkling gems as though blossoms of springtime and placed
on Your head a golden crown as a sign of Your holiness.”

Therefore, most beloved sister, or should I say, Lady, worthy of
great respect: because You are the spouse and the mother and
the sister of my Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 2COR 11, 2:MT 12, 50),
and have been beautifully adorned with the sign of an undefiled
virginity and a most holy poverty: Be strengthened in the holy
service which You have undertaken out of a burning desire for
the Poor Crucified, who for the sake of all of us took upon
Himself the Passion of the Cross (Heb. 12: 2), delivered us
from the power of the Prince Darkness (Col. 1: 13) to whom we
were enslaved because of the disobedience of our first parent,
and so reconciled us to God the Father (2COR 5,18).

O blessed poverty, who bestows eternal riches on those who
love and embrace her!

O holy poverty, God promises the kingdom of heaven and, in
fact offers eternal glory and a blessed life to those who possess
and desire you!

O God-centered poverty, whom the Lord Jesus Christ Who
ruled and now rules haven and earth, Who spoke and things
were made, condescended to embrace before all else!

The foxes have dens, He says, and the birds of the air have
nests, but the Son of Man, Christ, has nowhere to lay His head
(MT 8, 20), but bowing His head gave up His spirit (JN 19,30).

If so great and good a Lord, then, on coming into the Virgin‘s
womb, chose to appear despised, needy, and poor in this world
(cf.2COR 8,9), so that people who were in utter poverty, want
and absolute need of heavenly nourishment might become rich
in Him by possessing the kingdom of heaven, Be very joyful
and glad (cf. Hab. 33: 18)! Be filled with a remarkable
happiness and spiritual joy! Because, since contempt of the
world has pleased You more than its honors, poverty more than
earthly riches, and You have sought to store up greater
treasures in heaven rather than on earth, where rust does not
consume nor moth destroy nor thieves break in and steal
(Cf.LMI 6,20), Your reward is very rich in heaven! (MT 5, 12).
And You have truly merited to be called a sister, spouse and
mother (cf.2COR 11,2: MT 12, 50) of the Son of the Most High
Father and of the glorious Virgin.

You Know, I believe, that the kingdom of heaven is promised
and given by the Lord only to the poor (cf. MT 5, 3) for she who
loves temporal things loses the fruit of love. Such a person
cannot serve God and money, for either the one is loved and
the other hated, or the one is served and the other despised
(cf. MT 6, 24)

You also know that one who is clothed cannot fight another
who is naked, because she is more quickly thrown who gives
her adversary a chance to get hold of her; and that one who
lives in the glory of earth cannot rule with Christ in heaven.

Again (You Know) that it is easier for a camel to pass through
the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom
of heaven (MT 19, 24). Therefore, You have cast aside Your
garments, that is, earthly riches, that You might not be
overcome by the one fighting against You (and) You might
enter the kingdom of heaven through the straight path and the
narrow gate (Cf.LMI 7, 13-14).

What a great and praiseworthy exchange: to leave the things of
time for those of eternity, to choose the things of heaven for the
goods of earth, to receive the hundred-fold in place of one, and
to possess a blessed eternal life!

Because of this I have resolved, as best as I can, to beg Your
Excellency and Your holiness by my humble prayers in the
mercy of Christ, to be strengthened in His holy service, and to
progress from good to better, from virtue to virtue (cf. PS 83, 8),
and He whom You serve with the total desire of Your soul may
bestow on You the reward for which You so long.

I also beg You in the Lord, as much as I can, to include in Your
holy prayers (cf. Rom. 15: 30) me, Your useless servant (cf. LK
17: 10), and the other sisters with me in the monastery, who
are all devoted to You, That by their help we may merit the
mercy of Jesus Christ, and together with You may merit to
enjoy the everlasting vision.

Farewell in the Lord. And pray for me (cf.1TH 5, 25).

The Privilege of Poverty

       Unbarring the locked door and sneaking out at night
       and stealing down to the Porziuncola in the moonlight,
       the wind shaking the tiny olive leaves. The brothers
       waiting on the road with torches in their hands, their
       faces flushed by the flames, and Francis clipping her
       hair and the yellow locks falling lifeless onto the dirt
       floor. The disappointment and pain of having no home
       and then Francis bringing her to San Damiano and the
       joy of the Poor Ladies there in that precious little church
       that Francis himself had restored and their happy life
       there where everything was poor. Her battle with the
       Pope for the privilege of living in complete poverty and
       now his giving in and the announcement that he was
       this day to secure for her and the Poor Ladies the
       privilege of poverty forever.

       Toward the end it all got mixed up in her mind.

       It has taken over forty years for that to happen. But
       now as she lay in bed with the scent of death in the air,
       it all danced at one in her mind and her whole life was
       like a day, a moment of celebration.

       Clare looked at the bare ceiling of the dormitory. Her
       eyes wandered wearily over the plain stonewalls, and it
       all became a palace of poverty, a rich simplicity that she
       had spent her whole life preserving. She tried not to be
       possessive even of this impoverished place, for it was a
       place, after all, and her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
       had no place to lay his head. Even from San Damiano
       she must be as detached as Francis was, for even the
       poorest place can become a rich possession for one
       who has nothing. Clinging to San Damiano was

especially dangerous because of its association with

And then the little swallows who nested in the rafters of
the ceiling began to fly in and out singing their
excitement in the morning sun, and she remembered
how Francis had always returned to the Porziuncola. It
wasn‘t so much a place as a nest, a womb, a center
where God had spoken, a source of renewal for the
spirit. San Damiano was a sacred space where Lady
Poverty lived. There you moved in her presence easily,
warmed at the hearth of silence and renunciation, if God
so willed. Clare would go wherever the Pope sent her,
but wherever she went she would take Lady Poverty
with her, and around her and the Poor Ladies would
grow another holy space where the poor Christ would

She closed her eyes with effort, even that simple
movement taxing her waning strength. She slept and
the dreams kept rushing in. The dreams of memory.

Mercenary soldiers were in the courtyard again and she
was shakily holding the ciborium in the open door. The
quizzical looks on their faces and the horses pawing the
ground, their nervous neighs charging the tense
atmosphere, and her prayers to the Eucharistic Christ
and their panic and retreat as if from some invisible
army. And fire filled the sky over the Porziuncola and
she saw herself and Francis and the brothers eating a
meal in the open. She was listening to Francis and
speaking with him and the word Jesus flew back and
forth. It increased in speed and it caught fire and she
and Francis were all light and the Seraphim beat the air
with hot wings and the breath of God warmed the whole

She felt something at her wrist. She painfully lifted her
eyelids and the room was on fire. At the foot of her
straw mat stood one of the brothers, and in his hand he
held the confirmation of her Rule of Life and the

Privilege of Poverty from Innocent, the Vicar of Christ.
She took it weakly in her open palm and its strength
drove her hand to her heart and she slept.

The Carceri

Until the 13th century, there was merely a small chapel
here belonging to the commune on the top of Monte
Subasio.     St. Francis often retired to this area.
Eventually, the town gave him and his followers the use
of the chapel and the woods, where there were various
caves, which served as shelters for the brothers.

In the time of St. Bernadine, a small hermitage was built
on to the original chapel. In 1415 the Carceri passed
into the hands of the Observants. It was enlarged in
order to give accommodations to more brothers, but the
number never seems to have been more than ten or
twelve. St. Bernadine was novice master and provincial
here (c. 1420). The Carceri is one of a number of
remote places, all important in Franciscan life: Celle
(near Cortona), Monte Casale (near Borgo San
Sepolcro), Poggio Bustone, Greccio, Fonte Colombo,
Lo Specodi Narni and Cetona.

Thomas of Celano, First Life, 71

Francis seeks solitary places.

He (Francis), therefore frequently chose solitary places
so that he could direct his mind completely to God; yet
he was not slothful about entering into the affairs of his
neighbors, when he saw the time was opportune, and
he willingly took care of things pertaining to their
salvation. For his safest haven was prayer, not prayer
of a single moment, or idle or presumptuous prayer, but
prayer of long duration, full of devotion, serene in

humility. If he began late, he would scarcely finish
before morning. Walking, sitting, eating or drinking, he
was always intent upon prayer. He would go alone to
pray at night in churches abandoned and located in
deserted places, where, under the protection of divine
grace, he overcame many fears and disturbances of

Thomas of Celano, First Life, 91

Francis seeks solitary places.

At a certain time the blessed and venerable father
Francis left behind the crowds of the world that were
coming together daily with the greatest devotion to hear
and see him, and he sought out a quiet and secret
place of solitude, desiring to spend his time there with
God and to cleanse himself of any dust that may have
clung to him from his association with people. It was his
custom to divide up the time given him to merit grace,
and as seemed necessary to him, to give part of it to
working for the good of his neighbors and the rest to the
blessed retirement of contemplation.

He therefore took with him just the very few companions
to whom his holy life was better known than it was to
the rest, so that they might protect him from the
invasion and disturbance of people and respect and
preserve his quiet in all things.

Major Life by St. Bonaventure, X 3

Francis searches out place for solitude.

Francis learned in his prayer that the presence of the
Holy Spirit for which he longed was granted more
intimately, when he was far from the rush of worldly
affairs. Therefore, he used to seek out lonely places in
the wilderness and go into abandoned churches to pray
at night.

The Porziuncola

Francis was especially fond of St. Mary of the Angels,
the ―little portion‖ – a tiny chapel, hidden in the woods
and marshes near Assisi. ―He loved this spot more than
any other in the world. It was here that he began his
religious life; it was here that he made such
extraordinary progress, and it was here that he came to
happy end.‖ (LM II 8)

Although blessed Francis was aware that the kingdom
of heaven was established in every place on earth, and
believed that the grace of God could everywhere be
given to the faithful, he had learned from experience
that St. Mary of the Angels was filled with richer grace
and often visited by celestial spirits. So he often said to
the friars, ―My sons, see that you never abandon this
place! If you are driven out of one door, re-enter by
another, for this place is holy indeed; it is the dwelling
place of Christ and His Virgin Mother.‖(SP 83)

The chapel‘s history is lost in legend. It is said that in
the year 352, four holy men from Palestine came to visit
the shrines of Rome.            Having completed their
pilgrimage, they asked Pope Liberius to suggest to
them some remote place where they could retire from
the world. He advised them to go to the mountains of
Umbria. They came to Assisi; and in the woods
beneath the city, they built a chapel and four huts. This
is a pleasant legend; but it has no historical value.

When the Lord gave Francis brothers, they went first to
Rivo Torto; but it quickly grew inadequate. Through the
intercession of the Bishop of Assisi, Francis obtained
from the Benedictines of Monte Subasio the use of the
Porziuncola, for which he paid a basket of fish. (LP 8)

Francis rebuilt this Benedictine chapel after he had
completed the rebuilding of San Damiano in 1209. The
sanctuary has been renovated, but the rest of the
interior is relatively untouched since Francis‘ day. The
façade was decorated with mosaics later on, but the
side and back probably give you a pretty good idea of
what the Porziuncola Chapel was like.

The Basilica which covers the chapel was begun in
1569 by decree of Pius V, on the site of a thirteenth
century gothic church. It was meant to accommodate
the huge crowds of pilgrims who came on August 2 for
the indulgence, ―il perdono.” The earthquake of 1832
did great damage to the church but spared the
Porziuncola. From 1966-1970 in the course of making
excavations, a foundation, perhaps of the building
Francis attempted to tear down in 1220, was
discovered. Also discovered were some other buildings
from the time of Francis till the 15th century, and some
rooms of prayer.

Thomas of Celano, First Life, 21 - 22

Francis hears the Gospel and a life direction is given.

Then (Francis) went to another place, which is called
the Porziuncola, where there stood a church of the
Blessed Virgin Mother of God that had been built in
ancient times, but was now deserted and cared for by
no one. When the holy man of God saw how it was
thus in ruins, he was moved to pity, because he burned
with devotion toward the mother of all good; and he
began to live there in great zeal. It was the third year of
his conversion when he began to repair this church. At
this time he wore a king of hermit‘s dress, with a leather
girdle about his waist; he carried a staff in his hands
and wore shoes on his feet.

But when on a certain day the Gospel was read in that
church, how the Lord sent his disciples out to preach,
the holy man of God, assisting there, understood
somewhat the words of the Gospel; after Mass he
humbly asked the priest to explain the Gospel to him
more fully. When he had set forth for him in order all
these things, the holy Francis, hearing that the disciples
of Christ should not possess gold or silver or money;
nor carry along the way scrip, or wallet, or bread, or a
staff; that they should not have shoes, or two tunics; but
that they should preach the kingdom of God and
penance, immediately cried out exultingly; ―This is what
I wish, this is what I seek, this is what I long to do with
all my heart.

Mirror of Perfection, 55

How Francis obtained the church of St. Mary of the

When blessed Francis saw that the Lord willed to
increase the number of the friars, he said to them: ―My
dearest brothers and sons, I realize that God wills to
add to our numbers. It seems good and godly to me
that we should obtain from the Bishop, or from the
canons of S. Rufino, or from the Abbot of S. Benedict
some church were the friars may say their Hours, and
have some poor little dwelling near by made of clay and
wattle where the brethren may rest and work. For this
place is not suitable or adequate for the Friars now that
the Lord wills to increase our numbers, especially as we
have no church where the friars can say their Hours.
And if any friar were to die, it would not be fitting to bury
him here or in a church belonging to the secular clergy.‖
And all the friars supported this suggestion.

So he went to the Bishop of Assisi and put this request
to him. But the Bishop said, ―Brother, I have no church
to offer you,‖ and the Canons gave the same answer.
Then he went to Abbot of S. Benedict on Monte
Subasio, and made the same request to him. The Abbot
was roused to sympathy, and took counsel with his
monks; and guided by the grace and will of God, he
granted to blessed Francis and his friars the church of
S. Mary of the Porziuncola, which was the smallest and

poorest church they had. And the Abbot said to
Blessed Francis, ―See, Brother, we have granted your
request. But if the Lord causes this congregation of
yours to grow, we wish this place to become the chief of
all your churches.‖ His suggestion pleased blessed
Francis and his brethren, and he was delighted with this
place granted to the friars, especially since the church
was named after the Mother of Christ, and was so poor
and small. He was also happy that it was called the
Porziuncola, which foreshadowed that it was destined to
become the Mother-House and chief church of the poor
Friars Minor, for it had been known by this name from
earliest times. So blessed Francis used to say, ―This
was why the Lord willed that no other church should be
given to the friars, and that the first friars should not
build a new church or have any but this;‖ for in this way
an old prophecy was fulfilled by the coming of the Friars
Minor. And although it was poor and nearly in ruins, the
people of the city of Assisi and the whole district had for
a long time held the church in great reverence. Today
their reverence is still greater, and grows day by day.

Major Life by St. Bonaventure

Francis’ life journey is shaped by the Porziuncola

When he had finished there, he (Francis) came to a
place called the Porziuncola where there was an old
church dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God, which
was now abandoned with no one to look after it.
Francis had great devotion to the Queen of the world
and when he saw that the church was deserted, he
began to live there constantly in order to repair it. He
heard that the angels often visited it, so that it used to
be called St. Mary of the Angels, and he decided to stay
there permanently out of reverence for the angels and
love for the Mother of Christ. He loved this spot more
than any other in the world. It was here that he began
his religious life in a very small way; it was here that he

made such extraordinary progress, and it was here that
he came to a happy end. When he was dying, he
commended this spot above all to the friars, because it
was most dear to the Blessed Virgin….

This was the place where St. Francis founded the Order
of Friars Minor by divine inspiration and it was Divine
Providence, which led him to repair three churches
before he founded the Order, and began to preach the
Gospel. This meant that he progressed from material
things to more spiritual achievements, from lesser to
greater, in due order, and it gave a prophetic indication
of what he would accomplish later. Like the three
buildings he repaired, Christ‘s church was to be
renewed in three different ways under Francis‘ guidance
and according to his Rule and teaching, and the three-
fold army of those who are to be saved was to win
victory. We can now see that this prophecy has come

Thomas of Celano, First Life, 108 - 110

The death of Francis

A this time he was staying in the palace of the bishop of
Assisi, and he therefore asked the brothers to take him
as quickly as possible to the place of St. Mary of the
Porziuncola. For he wished to give back his soul to
God in that place where, as has been said, he first knew
the way of truth perfectly.

The space of twenty years had now passed since
Francis‘ conversion, according to what had been made
known to him by the will of God…. When therefore he
had rested for a few days in a place he greatly longed to
be in and realized that the time of his death was at
hand, he called to him two of his brothers and spiritual
sons and commanded them to sing in a loud voice with
joy of spirit the Praises of the Lord over his approaching
death, or rather, over the life that was so near.

Finally he ordered the book of the Gospels to be
brought and commanded that the Gospel according to
St. John be read from that place where it begins: ―Six
days before the Passover, Jesus, knowing that the hour
had come for him to pass from this world to the Father.‖
Then when many brothers had gathered about, whose
father and leader he was, and while they were standing
reverently at his side awaiting his blessed death and
happy end, his most holy soul was freed from his body
and received into the abyss of light, and his body fell
asleep in the Lord.

The Basilica of Santa Chiara

The Basilica of Santa Chiara stands on the site of the
former San Giorgio parish church, which was
administered by the Canons of the Cathedral of San
Rufino at the time of Francis and Clare. Next to it was a
hospital for the poor, outside the city walls.

Francis learned to read and write at San Giorgio, and
he preached for the first time in this church. Francis‘
body was buried in the crypt of the church in 1226 and
on May 24, 1230, it was transferred to the new Basilica
erected in his honor by Elias.

When Clare died in 1253, her body was first placed in
the crypt of this same church (San Giorgio). After her
canonization in 1255, Pope Alexander IV negotiated
with the Canons to have the property become the place
for the Basilica, which would be the focus for the
pilgrims coming to Clare‘s tomb. By his decree in 1259,
the few Poor Clares staying with Clare‘s body, and
those who remained at San Damiano, became united
as one community with residence at the
Protomonastery built on the south side of the new
Basilica. In 1260, St. Bonaventure was present for the
celebration of the completion of the Basilica at which
time Clare‘s body was placed in a safe burial spot
beneath the high altar.

The original San Damiano Crucifix was brought by the
Sisters to the Protomonastery when they left San
Damiano, and it is now revered by the public in a side
chapel. The crucifix has been treasured by the Poor
Clares, and pilgrims, throughout the centuries.

Clare‘s body was exhumed in 1850, and is maintained
in a glass coffin.

Blessing of St Clare

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit (Mt. 28, 19)

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May He show His face to you and be merciful to you.

May He turn his countenance (cf. Numbers 6, 24-26) to
you, my sisters and daughters, and give peace to you,
and to all others who come and remain in your company
as well as to others now and in the future, who have
persevered in every other monastery of the Poor

I, Clare, a servant of Christ, a little plant of our most
holy Father Francis, a sister and mother of you and the
other poor sisters, although unworthy, beg our Lord
Jesus Christ through His mercy and the intercession of
His most holy Mother Mary and blessed Michael the
Archangel and all the holy angels of God, of our blessed
father Francis, and all men and women saints, that the
heavenly Father give you and confirm for you this most
holy blessing in heaven and on earth (cf. Gen 27,28).
On earth, may He multiply you in His grace and His
virtues among His servants and handmaids in His
Church Militant. In heaven, may he exalt you and glorify
you among His men and women saints in His Church

I bless you during my life and after my death, as I am
able, out of all the blessings with which the Father of
mercies has and does bless His sons and daughters in
heaven and on earth (2 Cor. 1,3; cf. Eph 1, 3) and a
spiritual father and mother have blessed and bless their
spiritual sons and daughters. Amen.

The Basilica of St. Francis

July 17, 1228, a few days after the canonization of
Francis, Pope Gregory IX laid the foundation stone for
the present basilica. The transferal of Francis‘ body
occurred on May 25, 1230. The exterior of the basilica
has been much altered since it was built. Originally it
consisted of two churches in the form of a Latin cross
with a single apsidal-ended nave. During the fourteenth
century the side chapels were added; also the present
transverse nave at the east end with the chapel of St.
Catherine on the north and the double Gothic portico on
the south. About this time the friary buildings were
enlarged, thus hiding the greater part of the south side
of the church. It is believed the campanile was
originally surmounted by a spire.

The tomb of St. Francis. After numerous unsuccessful
attempts to find the actual tomb, it was finally
discovered in January 1818, after fifty-two nights of
digging. The body was found beneath three heavy
blocks of travertine, where it had been hidden by
Brother Elias some 600 years before. In 1230 Pope
Gregory IX ordered the small passageway leading to
the funerary cell walled in so that the body could not be
stolen and transported to some other place. Leo,
Rufino, Angelo and Masseo are buried around the tomb
of Francis.

The lower church. Frescoes on the vault of the transept
are by an unknown painter of the school of Giotto.
Above the altar are others of the same school
exemplifying poverty, chastity, obedience, and the
triumph of Francis. Cimabue painted St. Francis;
Lorenzetti, the Madonna del dito and the Crocefissione.

In the upper church along the nave, under the gallery, is
the famous series of twenty-eight frescoes depicting the
life and miracles of Francis by Giotto and his pupils

Among the relics found here are: the original bull of
Honorius III approving the Rule, and the blessing written
to Brother Leo in Francis‘ own handwriting.

True Joy from Assisi by Raphael Brown, pp. 27-29

The immense Basilica of San Francesco, with its three
superimposed churches, priceless works of art, and
fortress-like Sacro Convento, is no doubt not exactly
what the Little Poor Man of Assisi would have planned
for his tombstone. But it is what Brother Elias and the
grateful popes, princes, and people of the thirteenth
century proudly erected to honor and glorify what God
performed and gave to the world through the Saint.

It is also a striking fact, directly relevant to our theme,
that many pilgrims have reported feeling his living
presence with special power around his tomb in the
starkly simple rock-walled crypt. The American author
Henry James declared in his Italian Hours: “This twofold
temple of St. Francis is one of the very sacred places of
Italy, and it would be hard to breathe anywhere an air
more heavy with holiness.‖

That impression has been echoed in our times by the
Anglican Franciscanist, Bishop John Moorman: “The
Tomb of the Poverello is certainly one of the holiest
places in the world.” (Alexandre Masseron’s remarkable
evocation of “waves of joy” flowing from the Saint’s
tomb will be quoted (below.)

In another part of the basilica, the transept of the Lower
Church, where many pilgrims have experienced a more
intimate communion with the Saint, is his well-known
portrait by Cimabue (d. 1302?), of which Sir William
Richmond wrote: ―Watch the face. It will change from
burning love to deep sorrow, not for himself, but sorrow
for the suffering of Another…. Cimabue has painted the
St. Francis, to me the only entirely satisfactory
presentation of him to be found here or elsewhere. I
see…. the man who took over the sufferings of his
Master and made them his own, and who has no
comeliness save what has been made by his soul. I
cannot describe it; people must feel the impressive
figure for themselves. If everything of value in art in
Assisi were to perish, and this alone remained, it would
be worth a pilgrimage to see it.‖

However, recent photographs of this fresco indicate that
it has been cleaned and restored, yielding a very
different face – younger, weaker, and less saintly,
though definitely more in harmony with the nature of the
other persons depicted.

True Joy from Assisi by Raphael Brown, p. 71

The writer who has given us the finest tribute to the
spirit of joy which Assisi radiates is the French Tertiary
Alexandre Masseron (d. 1959), in his excellent
guidebook Assise.

Paradoxically, he found the radiance of that joy most
intense at the tomb of the Poverello. Let us ponder
these profound insights:

Should we try to enclose in the rigidity of a formula the
victorious power of Assisi‘s charm?…..All the seduction
of Assisi and the irresistible force of its appeal seem to
arise only from an apparently violent opposition and a
rough contrast, but they dissolve in a mysterious
harmony. Assisi, as we admire it today and still more
as we love it, is nothing else than a tomb. But tombs
evoke mournful thoughts and ….the distant strains of
the Dance of Death. Yet here Assisi eludes that
general rule, and from the Tomb of St. Francis…only
waves of joy flow over us and overwhelm us and snatch
us from our habitual sorrows….Francis of Assisi, who
during his pain-filled life radiated ineffable joy, willed
that after his death this miracle should be continually
renewed, and that from the dust of his bones should
flow an unquenchable spring of joy for all among the
children of men (and women) who may live him with a
pure heart.

And because St. Francis was the apostle of joy, that joy
which he had discovered in love of poverty, he gave his
Tomb the faculty of performing this kind of perpetual
miracle: of removing from our souls our usual anxieties
and depressing thoughts, to make us thrill with
enthusiasm and joy as soon as we catch sight of the
enormous foundations of his Basilica….This is the
revelation of the secret of Assisi, the Assisi of St.
Francis, a material and mystical reliquary of the master
of perfect joy.

Thomas of Celano, First Life, 115

The brothers who lived with Francis knew how his daily
and continuous talk was of Jesus and how sweet and
tender his conversation was, how kind and filled with
love his talk with them. His mouth spoke out of the
abundance of his heart, and the fountain of enlightened
love that filled his whole being bubbled forth outwardly.
Indeed, he was always occupied with Jesus; Jesus he
bore in his heart, Jesus in his mouth, Jesus in his ears,
Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, Jesus in the rest

of his members. O how often, when he sat down to eat,
hearing or speaking or thinking of Jesus, he forgot
bodily food, as we read the holy one: ―Seeing, he did
not see, and hearing he did not hear.‖ Indeed, many
times, as we went along the way meditating on and
singing of Jesus, he would forget his journey and invite
all the elements to praise Jesus. And because he
always bore and preserved Christ Jesus and him
crucified in his heart with a wonderful love, he was
marked in a most glorious way above all others with the
seal of him whom in a rapture of mind he contemplated
sitting in inexpressible and incomprehensible glory at
the right hand of the Father, with whom he, the co-equal
and most high Son of the Most High, lives and reigns,
conquers and governs in union with the Holy Spirit, God
eternally glorious through all ages forever. Amen.

La Verna

This sanctuary is called FRANCISCAN CALVARY, for it
was here that Francis received the stigmata. In 1213
Francis set out for Morocco. On the way, he and
brother Leo arrived at Montefeltro in Romagna and
stopped at the nearby castle of San Leo. A great feast
was going on in honor of a new knight. Taking
advantage of the situation, Francis began to address
the guests and the count was so impressed that he
decided to seek guidance in private from the saint. He
was so pleased with Francis that the count, Orlando,
said: ―Brother Francis, I have a mountain in Tuscany
which is very solitary and wild and perfectly suited for
someone who wants to do penance in a remote place or
who seeks to live a solitary life. It is called Mount La
Verna. If that mountain should please you and your
companions, I would gladly give it to you for the
salvation of my soul.‖

When he heard this generous offer of something he had
long set his heart upon, St. Francis expressed a great
joy, and praising and giving thanks first to God and then
to Count Orlando, Francis replied to him: ―Sir when you
have returned to your home I will send some of my
companions to you so that you may show them this
mountain. If it appears to them well suited to prayer
and doing penance, I here and now accept your most
charitable offer.‖

A few months later, two companions of St. Francis
presented themselves at the entrance to the castle of
Count Orlando Cattani of Chiusi. They were given a
warm and joyous welcome and lodged for the night. In
the morning, provided with a strong escort of fifty armed
men to protect them from the robbers and the wild
beasts that infested the forest, they climbed the
mountain and soon found a suitable place for a
dwelling. There they built some small cells, and in the
name of St. Francis, took possession of the mountain
so generously donated by Count Orlando. (See FIOR,
Second Consideration of the Stigmata)

Thomas of Celano, First Life, 94 - 95

The crucified seraph imparts the stigmata onto Francis

Two years before Francis gave his soul back to heaven,
while he was living in the hermitage which was called
La Verna after the place on which it stood, he saw in
the vision of God a man standing above him, like a
seraph with six wings, his hands extended and his feet
joined together and fixed to a cross. Two of the wings
were extended above his head, two were extended as if
for flight, and two were wrapped around the whole body.
When the blessed servant of the Most High saw these
things, he was filled with the greatest wonder, but he
could not understand what this vision should mean.
Still, he was filled with happiness and he rejoiced very
greatly because of the king and gracious look with
which he saw himself regarded by the seraph, whose
beauty was beyond estimation; but the fact that the
seraph was fixed to a cross and the sharpness of his
suffering filled Francis with fear. And so he arose, if I
may so speak, sorrowful and joyful, and joy and grief
were in him alternately. Solicitously he thought what this
vision could mean, and his soul was in great anxiety to
find its meaning. And while he was thus unable to come
to any understanding of it and the strangeness of the
vision perplexed his heart, the marks of the nails began
to appear in his hands and feet, just as he had seen
them a little before in the crucified man above him.

His hands and feet seemed to be pierced through the
middle by nails, with the heads of the nails appearing in
the inner side of the hands and on the upper sides of
the feet and their pointed ends on the opposite sides.
The marks in the hands were round on the inner side,
but on the outer side they were elongated; and some
small pieces of flesh took on the appearance of the
ends of the nails, bent and driven back and rising above
the rest of the flesh. In the same way the marks of the
nails were impressed upon the feet and raised in a
similar way above the rest of the flesh. Furthermore,
his right side was as though it had been pierced by a
lance and had a wound in it that frequently bled so that
his tunic and trousers were very often covered with his
sacred blood. Alas, how few indeed merited to see the
wound in his side while this crucified servant of the
Crucified Lord lived! But happy was Elias, who, while
the saint lived, merited to see this wound; and no less
happy was Rufino who touched the wound with his own
hands. For when this Brother Rufino once put his hand
upon the bosom of this most holy man to rub him, his
hand fell down to the right side of Francis, as it can
happen; and it happened to touch the precious wound.
The holy man of God was not a little grieved at this
touch, and pushing his hand away, he cried out to the
Lord to forgive Rufino. For he made every effort to hide
this wound... and he hid it with such great care from
those close to him that even the brothers who were
always at his side and his most cherished followers did
not know of this wound for a long time.

Legend of the Three Companions, 69 - 70

Francis receives the stigmata.

It was the Lord‘s will that the entire world should know
of the love of blessed Francis and how his heart was
filled with the thought of Christ‘s passion. Therefore
while he was still alive, God conferred on him the
wonderful prerogative of a most singular privilege.
Wrapt in divine contemplation, blessed Francis was
absorbed in seraphic love and desire; and through the
tenderness of his compassion he was transformed into
a living crucifix. Thus the inmost desire of his burning
love was fulfilled. One morning two years before his
death, about the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross,
while he was praying on the side of a mountain named
La Verna, there appeared to him a seraph in the
beautiful image of a crucified and, having his hands and
feet extended as though on a cross, and clearly
showing the face of Jesus Christ. Two wings met
above, his head, two covered the rest of his body to the
feet, and two were spread as in flight.

When the vision passed, the soul of Francis was afire
with love; and on his body there appeared the wonderful
impression of the wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed Francis did all in his power to hide these
wounds, not wishing that God‘s gift should be seen by
others; but he could not hide this gift entirely, and it
became known to his intimate companions. After his
death, however, all the brothers who were present saw
clearly that his body bore the wounds of Christ in hands
and feet. In those wounds there appeared to be nails,
but these were formed by Francis‘ own flesh, which had
taken on the shape and color of iron nails. The right
side over the ribs looked as though a lance with a plain
and obvious wound, covered with a red scar with
crimson edges, had pierced it and during blessed
Francis‘ lifetime blood often flowed from this wound.

The undeniable truth of these wounds was apparent
during blessed Francis‘ life, and when he died they
could be clearly seen and touched. After his death the
Lord made the truth of them still more manifest through
miracles which occurred in different parts of the world.
These miracles touched the hearts of many persons
who had not rightly judged and appreciated the servant
of God during his lifetime, and had doubted about the
stigmata. Their doubt was changed into such faith and
certainty that many who had formerly decried the
servant of God were moved through the Lord to accept
the truth and they became fervent in praising him and in
spreading his fame and teaching.

St. Francis’ Farewell to La Verna

Once a year, on the evening of 30 September, a letter is
read aloud in the refectory at La Verna. It is the letter in
which Brother Masseo handed on the very moving
―Farewell to La Verna‖ uttered by St. Francis on his final
departure from the Holy Mountain (30 September
1224). In commemoration of this date, which also marks
the celebration of the Feast of St. Jerome, doctor of the
church, the religious, in honor of that saint, include his
name in their prayers during the daily procession to the
Chapel of the Stigmata.

―Brother Masseo, sinner, unworthy servant of Jesus
Christ, companion of Brother Francis of Assisi, a man
very pleasing to God, peace and well-being to all the
brothers and sons (and daughters) of the Great
Patriarch Francis, standard-bearer of Christ. The Great
Patriarch, being resolved to take a last farewell of this
Sacred Mount on the 30th of September, 1224, the day
of the feast of St. Jerome, and Count Orlando of Chiusi
having sent an ass for him to ride (he being unable to
put foot to the ground by reason of the wounds made by
the nails), and having heard Mass at Santa Maria degli
Angeli early in the morning as was his custom, all being

summoned into the Oratory, he bade us live together in
charity, devote ourselves to prayer, care diligently for
the place and sanctify it with our prayers day and night.
He further entrusted to our care the whole of the Sacred
Mount, exhorting all his Brothers, future as well as
present, never to permit this spot to be profaned, but
always to require that it be venerated, bestowing his
benediction upon all who should live there and render it
honor and reverence. ‗Should it be otherwise,‘ he said,
‗be they confounded who shall lack respect for this
place, and let them await from God the punishment they
merit.‘ To me he said, ‗Brother Masseo, know it to be
my intention that in this place shall live religious, God-
fearing and of the flower of my Order; that, therefore,
the ministers shall strive to assemble here the best of
the Brothers. Ah! Ah! Ah! Brother Masseo, I say no

―He ordained and required of us, Brother Angelo,
Brother Silvestro, Brother Illuminato and Brother
Masseo, that we exercise special care over the spot
where occurred that great wonder of the imprint of the
Sacred Stigmata.       Having spoken thus, he said,
‗Farewell, farewell, farewell, Brother Masseo!‘ Then
turning to Brother Angelo, he said, ‗Farewell, farewell,
farewell, Brother Angelo!‘ And he spoke similarly to
Brother Silvestro and Brother Illuminato. ‗ Dwell in
peace, beloved sons; may God bless you, most dear
sons. Farewell! I depart from you in my person, but my
heart I leave with you. I go with The Little Sheep of God
(Brother Leo) to Santa Maria degli Angeli, and I shall
return here no more. I leave you. Farewell, farewell,
farewell, each one of you! Farewell, mountains!
Farewell, farewell, Mount La Verna! Farewell, Mount of
the Angels!

Farewell, beloved, most dear falcon! I thank you for the
charity you have shown toward me. Farewell, farewell,
Projecting Rock! No more shall I come to visit you.
Farewell, great Rock! Farewell, farewell, farewell, rock
that received me into your vitals, leaving the devil

mocked! We shall see each other no more. Farewell,
Santa Maria degli Angeli! To you I entrust these my
sons, Mother of the Eternal Word.‘

―While our beloved Father was speaking thus, tears
welled from our eyes, and the departed, also weeping,
bearing away our hearts and leaving us orphans by the
departure of one who so truly a Father. I, Brother
Masseo, have written all. May God bless us.‖

                AND SAINT CLARE

              JUNE 23 – JULY 3, 2008


            FR. JOHN BUDWICK          SR.     MARY


            SR. KATHLEEN DALEY



           SR. JOAN FINN

            MARIA FULLAM


              MARY GILMORE       SR.    CATHERINE


        GLORIA KELLER              STEVE KRETZ

            DENISE KRETZ           ANN
KRISTOFFERSEN                      JOHN LANNIG

        ROSE LANNIG      RICHARD LARSEN          JOE


      DEACON FRANK ODIN     BARBARA              ODIN

     ANN OSTRANDER         DEACON               SONNY




                    DICK TARTER          LORETTA

              MARY VITTI     R. JACKIE WALSH




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