There are so many holy places in Assisi! This is going to be an extra-long one.
However, it will be only one photo from each place. Despite having far more photos than one from each place! On Wednesday 26 July when we arrived in Assisi, we went to visit the basilica of Our Lady of the Angels. On Thursday we did a LOT of walking; and visited a large number of the holy places. On Friday we farewelled Assisi with Mass at the basilica of St Francis of Assisi.
Assisi itself is a large medieval town surrounded by a wall. It sits on top of a mountain some 400m above sea level. Walking is about the only way to get around, since it is full of narrow streets that are either for pedestrians only or for one way traffic.
Nativity high-relief, Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels
Inside this basilica is the little church which St Francis and his helpers restored, and around which the first members of the Franciscan order built their huts to dwell in. It was in one of these huts or cells that St Francis of Assisi died. That cell has been preserved, and is known today as the Chapel of the Transit.
Basilica of St Clare, scenic view
Within this basilica is the tomb of St Clare, foundress of the Poor Clare order; and also the tomb of her sister, St Agnes.
There was definitely a strong/calm presence in the chapel inside this basilica which contains the original San Damiano cross. That’s the cross Jesus spoke to St Francis through, and said to him, ‘Go, rebuild My Church’.
Cloister of San Damiano
This is where the Poor Clare religious order began, and where St Clare and her nuns lived for the first 40 years, and where St Clare died. It was in this locality that the San Damiano cross was used by God to speak to St Francis.
Eremo delle carceri
Small isolated hermitages near a deep gorge; and further and higher up the mountain
This is the place where St Francis would withdraw from the world and pray for extended periods of time. Over the centuries these small, isolated dwellings have been built to house those called to live lives of prayerful solitude with God.
Where we had Mass in the open air, in the vicinity of the hermitages
On the right-hand side of the chapel is Fr Sam French with white hat and with red ribbon on his backpack. He is the red bus chaplain. Near the altar Fr Roger Delmonte is about to put on the alb part of his priestly vestments. He is the yellow bus chaplain.
Church of Mary, Seat of Wisdom, a.k.a. Santa Mary sopra Minerva
Remember to always look up, and you will find treasures that others miss.
This church used to be in Roman times a temple to the goddess Minerva.
It became a church in the 16th century and was decorated in the Baroque style in the 17th century. On the ceiling is an image of St Philip Neri, in an attitude of prayerful supplication to God, and dressed in priestly robes. He is the founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a society of apostolic life for men. Brisbane has an Oratory in Formation.
This seated gentleman is our guide through Assisi for both 27 and 28 July. He is like a loving, but firm, Italian grandfather. His sense and love of the Faith is evident in his whole person.
Chiesa Nuovo, interior
This is a view of the impressive interior of the church that was built on the site of St Francis’ family home.
Stable where St Francis was born
Just like Jesus, St Francis of Assisi came into the world in a stable. This same stable where we are standing with Eduardo our guide; where it is now possible to celebrate Holy Mass.
Church of St Mary Major, including the sanctuary of the Renunciation (of St Francis)
Santa Maria Maggiore or St Mary Major is the title given to the most prominent church named in honour of Mary, mother of Jesus, in the various regions of Italy. This one is in Assisi. The most well-known one is in Rome.
Part of this church contains an area called the Sanctuary of the Renunciation, remembering the exact spot where St Francis chose to reject the world and to live solely for God. It is in this sanctuary that the incorrupt body of Blessed Carlo Acutis has been placed. He died in 2006 from leukemia, at the age of 15, after a life of cheerfulness, computer skills and deep devotion to the Eucharist. He is one of the patron saints of World Youth Day Lisbon.
Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, exterior
This basilica has two levels, an upper level and a lower level. The body of St Francis of Assisi is in a chapel on the lower level. Before we went in for Mass, there was a group photograph. Mass itself was in the chapel of Fr Leo. While Fr Leo wasn’t a founding member of the Franciscan order, he still had a significant impact – being St Francis’ confessor until St Francis’ death, and he also assisted St Clare when she died. Fr Leo, a.k.a. Br Leo, is also buried in this basilica.
Vincent Cavanagh #bbwyd
28 Jul 2023, 7.57am Italy | 28 Jul 2023, 3.57pm Sydney
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