ASSISI, 4 June – After a two and half hour bus ride from the FMA Rome generalate the group of salesian Sisters on The Project Mornese arrived in Assisi – still preserved in its medieval township – the city of Francis and Clare (July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253) two radical followers of Jesus and founders of two major religious orders.
The first stop was at St Mary of the Angels church where Francis lived and died at the Portiuncula, the church within the church on 3 October 1226 at the age of 44. A deacon and preacher, Francis was privileged to share in the sufferings of the crucified Jesus with the stigmata. He also was the founder of the Order of Friars Minor, more commonly known as the Franciscans. St Clare founded the Order of Poor Ladies in the Franciscan tradition. Amazingly, Francis was declared saint two years after his death and is buried in the basilica of St Francis up the Assisi hill, in the lower church.
En route to the basilica the Sisters were privileged to see and talk with a modern day pilgrim from Slovakia who was on a 3,000 km pilgrimage on foot across Europe to San Giacomo di Compostella in Spain, the venue of World Youth Day 2011. Dressed in sack cloth, a staff with shell attached, the pilgrim has only a small satchel as his possession. He live son the charity of people for food and shelter along the route.
On reaching the basilica, Franciscan brother James from Kentucky USA, took the group on a 90 minute guided tour which the Sisters said “was just marvelous.”The group had a midday mass in the chapel of St Catherina in the upper church of St Francis. After a brief lunch break the group walked over to the Church of St Clare, on other end of the town. On the way they stopped over to see the church built over his father’s home and dye factory.
Besides praying at the tomb of St Clare and the original San Damiano crucifix, the group also saw the relics of Francis and Clare (hair, chord, habit, socks etc) on display.Then they had a visit to San Damiano church which was lying in ruins and Francis heeded to the voice that told him to “rebuild my church which has fallen into ruins,” a symbol that Francis took literally as well as practically by founding the Franciscan Order.