Sunday, February 17, 2013

Last full day in Assisi

There is a story about St. Francis that a bird in one of his retreat settings woke him for Matins, except when Francis was ill or especially tired.

I had intended to get up and go to Lauds and Mass at Santa Chiara. But I woke with only enough time to get to Mass in the crypt of the St. Francis Basilica. I must have needed the extra sleep.

After Mass and breakfast, I went to leave some laundry to be washed. I thought of going to Rivo Torto, the Holy Hovel, but decide to wait until the afternoon.

Wanting through the crooked streets of Assisi, I ran across the tiny chapel of San Francesco Picollino. It's almost literally a hole in the wall.

One tradition is that Francis was born there in a stable - according to the early lives that tried to make Francis an other Chrixt, alter Christus. Another tradition is that this is where his father, Pietro Bernadone, had his fabric shop.

Neither tale may be true - or both may be. It doesn't matter because here is a holy place, simple and small, befitting the memory of Il Poverello, the little poor man.

I sat and prayed, reveling in the presence of God.

After lunch I decided to go to Rivo Torto, walking by way of San Damiano. God had other plans.

I started to go the way my guide sheet said, but decided it was too far and it was better to stop and pray at San Damiano. But I did have the blessing to encounter a beautiful sculpture of Francis praying, in a meditative stance. It touched me deeply.

And so I ended up sitting for a good time in San Damiano, praying quietly, with no one to disturb  me. The peace was palpable.

I returned to Assisi and walked, read, relaxed until I headed to Vespers (Evening Prayer) in the chapel of San Quirico which is a Poor Clare monastery.

What a center of peace. As Vespers began, one of the sisters brought a simple monstrance  with the Host and placed it on the altar, while the sisters sang an Italian version of Adoro Te, devote, accompanied by what was probably a psaltery. (It reminded me of a hammered dulcimer but was plucked, rather than struck.)

The prayer was heavenly.

I left, had dinner, finished Carlo Caretto's I, Francis, and went to sleep.

Friday Mass at the Basilica was followed by my departure for Rome.

I left grateful, finding here an oasis of peace, that nourished my spirit and challenged me to live out a Franciscan life of being with the little people of the world, trusting in a God who is our real security.


ValMac said...

I love this statue of St. Francis! Am gathering images of him to help create a painting.Lovely to come across this. Your sharing of your experience was a very nice "read" ... thank you for posting both.


Valerie MacRae

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

Other photos of mine from Assisi can be found here:

There are also a few in other sets from Rome, the Vatican Museum, and Florence: