Fonte Colombo is called "The Franciscan Sinai." It is considered sacred and was a place Francis loved. He returned here in September of 1223. He fasted on bread and water, prayed alone in his little cave for a month and then dictated his "rule" to brother Leo for his order of friars. This "rule" was approved by Pope Honorius III in November of 1223 and still governs the order of the friars minor today, some 800 years later. (There's a lot more to the story but that's the quick version!)
It is beautiful. It is quiet. On the hillside, it is lush and green and it does feel holy. You feel as though you have stepped into a sacred space. I could have spent the entire day there, (or forever!) meditating, praying and even drawing. I hope one day to go back, when I am in no hurry and just "be."
There is a feeling of safety and peace in this place. I am welling up just thinking about it.
I saw a whole 5 people there outside of my parents and Mauro. 3 were Franciscan monks who probably live there. One was a man we saw in the newer church hanging an icon of the Madonna and trying not to drop her. (My Mom went over and helped him.) And one, other gentleman who was down on one of the pathways.
We had a moment of blue sky when we arrived and then it began to drizzle when I left the Holy Grotto. It felt like mist.
The Cammino di Francesco , or walking path that leads to all the sacred Franciscan sites in the Rieti Valley
(and elsewhere) including Fonte Columbo. Someday ...
Brother Leo celebrated Masses here with Francis and to the left
of the altar, in the corner of the window is the "Tau" written
by Francis himself.
the Holy Grotto of St. Francis