It was December 10th, last year, and it had begun to rain in Assisi.
I decided to take a walk, and to make my way down Chiesa Nuova.
built in 1651
On the presumed site of the birth of Saint Francis
and his family home.
Piazza Chiesa Nuova
Below, a sculpture of the parents of Saint Francis of Assisi.
His father, Pietro di Bernardone, is said to have chained his son and locked him up, out of anger and frustration, after Francis started living a life of poverty and, by his father's standards, was acting crazy. The story goes, that his mother set him free.
At some point, Francis also sold off some of his father's textiles, for money to repair the church of San Damiano, which also did not go over well. (This is a great understatement, as he hauled him off, in front of the town, to the Bishop Palace.)
Franciscan Choir of Assisi … the bells come first.
This spot, "by tradition," is where his father is said to have locked up Francis.
Remember, it was Christmastime, and little manger scenes, or "precipe," had popped up, all over Italy. I thought this one, especially charming.
Presepe Napoletano nella Chiesa Nuova
The whole purpose of life
is to make God a reality.
~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
A door through the back of the church ...
... leads you to where Francis' father had the warehouse, for his business.
It was a Monday and it was so quiet. The big "festa" was over, and there was only the sound of rain.
Francis' father's warehouse room ...
One of my favorite art pieces, depicting Saint Francis and Saint Claire. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the artist's name but isn't it beautiful?
The mystic has one moral
and that is love.
and that is love.
~Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan
Pax et Bonum
Pace e Bene
These words are seen everywhere, in Assisi, and in other Franciscan places, including churches, with the latin Pax et Bonum.
It translates to "Peace and Good(ness) be with you!" and is what Francis would proclaim as he'd enter a new town, to which he would preach, with great charisma.
… and then back out onto the streets of Assisi …
Out in the rain, I made my way toward the Basilica of San Francesco.
Song of The Rain
by Kahlil Gibran
I am dotted silver threads dropped from heaven
By the gods. Nature then takes me, to adorn
Her fields an valleys.
I am beautiful pearls, plucked from the
Crown of Ishtar by the daughter of Dawn
To embellish the gardens.
When I cry the hills laugh;
When I humble myself the flowers rejoice;
When I boy, all things are elated.
My Mom and I have spent several evenings, online, looking at properties in Italy, including Assisi. There was a beautiful little place built prior to 1500, in this neighborhood, that was amazing. I figured out the general area on Google street maps. (Gotta have a little fantasy in life!)
The field and the cloud are lovers
And between them I am a messenger of mercy.
I quench the thirst of the one;
I cure the ailment of the other.
… I emerge from the heart of the sea and
Soar with the breeze. When I see a field in
Need, I descend and embrace the flowers and
The trees in a million little ways.
I touch gently at the windows with my
Soft fingers, and my announcement is a
Welcome song. All can hear, but only
The sensitive can understand.
… I am the sigh of the sea;
the laughter of the field;
The tears of heaven.
So with love -
Sighs from the deep sea of affection;
Laughter from the colorful field of the spirit;
Tears from the endless heaven of memories.
~ Kahlil Gibran
from Song of the Rain
Love alone is the fountain
from which all virtues fall
as drops of sparkling water.
~Hazrat Inayat Khan
My favorite place in Assisi, strange as it sounds, is the tomb of Saint Francis, under the lower basilica. The energy is peaceful, yet somehow alive with an intensity that I cannot find words for. It's solemn in the room, but somehow the opposite is true, as well. A peaceful joy.
The candles are always glowing and you can walk around the tomb. In the four corners of the room, four of his brothers were buried, but not until 1932. They were Brother Angelo, Brother Masseo, Brother Rufino, and Brother Leo.
A woman, Jacopa di Settesoli, a very close friend of Francis and a widow, is buried near the entrance, when you come down the stairs. She was an honorary brother and he would call her "Brother Jacopa."
In a week, this will all have been a whole year ago! I can't believe it. I miss Assisi but in a way, it's always with me.
Next up … a place called Paradiso.
Blessings and light!