Monday, October 4, 2010

Feast Day: St. Francis of Assisi

Today is the celebration of St. Francis of Assisi, known throughout the world as the man of great charity toward all God's creation. St. Francis, who lived a wild youth, had an amazing conversion experience which led to his founding the Friars Minor, popularly known as the Franciscans.

Francis begged God to allow him to suffer as Jesus had on the Cross. While on retreat at a mountain-top monastery near Assisi, on September 17 1224, St. Francis got his request: the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ.

We were blessed to visit this mountain monastery in the Tuscany back in 2000. We were in the middle of our Jubilee Year Pilgrimage and thought we'd stay at LaVerna for a few days, using it as our base for visiting Siena, Assisi and other towns around the area. When we arrived at Chiusi della Verna, we felt such peace ... we ended up staying on the mountain for four days (only coming down one day to do laundry in the town below the fortress-like monastery). What a blessing to pray and walk the path of Francis and other Franciscans who continue to pray and work and love in Francis' shadow!

Below is a painting by Ghirlondhiao (1449-1494) that shows the mountain of LaVerna ... where Francis and others came to pray and retreat from the world ... the place of such unbelievable peace even today ... a place we couldn't leave ...

St. Francis had a great devotion and faith in God and everlasting life.  Reportedly, as he lay dying, he was heard to pray ... "bring my soul out of prison".

St. Francis, you who bore the wounds of Christ without complaint, pray for us in our trials and tribulations ... help us to offer these to God.
St. Francis, pray for us!

A lovely St. Francis quote ... and one I use at the bottom of my By Hand, With Heart letterhead ... says:

He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
But, he who works with his hands, his head, and his heart, is an artist


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