In the footsteps of St. Francis

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February 16th 2021
Published: February 16th 2021
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16th February - In the Footsteps of St. Francis

Whilst the exact date of St. Francis birth is unknown, he was born around 1181-1182. He died at the age of 44 in 1226

We started ou tour today overlooking the statue of St.Francis’s parents.

In 1182, Pietro Bernardone returned home from a trip to France to find his wife had given birth to a son. Far from being excited he was furious because she'd had his new son baptized Giovanni after John the Baptist. The last thing he wanted in his son was a man if God, he wanted a man of business, a cloth merchant like he was, and he especially wanted a son who would reflect his infatuation with France. So he renamed his son Francesco.

The cloth draped over the arm of his father on the statue commemorates his life as a textile merchant.

The broken chain in the hands of his mother represents when she set free her son from the locked room where he was often kept.

Saint Francis of Assisi was renowned for drinking and partying in his youth. After fighting
in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, Francis was captured and imprisoned for ransom. He spent nearly a year in prison — awaiting his father's payment — and, according to legend, began receiving visions from God.

After his release from prison, Francis heard the voice of Christ, who told him to repair the Christian Church and live a life of poverty. Consequently, he abandoned his life of luxury and became a devotee of the faith, his reputation spreading all over the Christian world.

It was summer 1205 and Francis’ conversion was taking shape. His friends gradually shut Francis out since they couldn't understand what was happening to him. His father was disappointed and his mother didn’t understand what was happenig to him.

Convinced that his son was mad, Pietro Bernardone took Francis home and locked him up in a room which today is called "St. Francis’ cell".

He was canonized as a saint on July 16, 1228. During his life he also developed a deep love of nature and animals and is known as the patron saint of the environment and animals.

We saw the house where St. Francis was born
and inside the new church built at the same location as the house, inside a small room showing just how St.Francis was locked in by his father.

As we walked Patrizia, our guide pointed out parts of the old city wall, the medieval houses & monasteries - There are 30 monasteries in the Old Town, & 20 in the Valley.

We learnt about St. Clare of Assisi.

Clare of Assisi was expected to make an advantageous marriage, but instead, she was called to God after hearing Saint Francis preach. She left her family, cut off her long hair and gave up her wealth in order to embrace a religious life.

She is usually depicted holding a Monstrance because of an event that happened when soldiers came to raid her convent. Although she was very ill, she had herself and the Blessed Sacrament carried to the convent wall, and she prayed for God’s aid. Her prayers were answered, and the enemies fled.

Clare was said to have seen an image of the mass on the wall of her sickroom, she is the patron saint of television.

The basilica, which
begun in 1228, is built into the side of a hill and comprises two churches (known as the Upper Church and the Lower Church) and a crypt a where the remains of the saint are interred.

We weren’t allowed in the church today but we were able to view at this church which is a great pilgrimage site for many.

Next to the basilica stands a friary built with impeding walls built in pink & white stones, 53 Romanesque arches and powerful buttresses supporting the whole complex. It towers over the valley below, giving the impression of a fortress.

The rings on the wall still in situ from the days when donkeys were tied there during the pilgrimages.

When we visited a few years ago I remember we arrived in Assisi below this fortress looking building so today it brought back memories of that holiday.

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