Monday, December 9, 2013

Spectacular Morning Walk to San Damiano ~ Assisi

It's my birthday today, and on this day I'm happy to remember my beautiful visit to Assisi, one year ago, and one of my very favorite places on this planet, San Damiano.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Basilica of Santa Chiara of Assisi

It was a spectacular day in Assisi, and perfect for a walk through the olive groves and down to San Damiano. 

I stopped in to the Basilica of Saint Clare, dedicated to her, and where she was laid to rest, in the crypt. Her sister, Saint Agnes of Assisi, is also buried in the basilica, but in one of the chapels. (It's on the left side of the nave, and there have said to be healing miracles by her grave, which is why, I think, she was also made a Saint.)

No photos are allowed in any part of the church, including the chapel that holds the San Damiano Cross.

The San Damiano Cross was brought up to the basilica, from the monastery, after Clare's death, by her community of Poor Clares, the Franciscan order that she founded. 

Above, you can see the right hand side of the façade, looks different from the rest. It was originally used, in Francis's time, as a hospital, school (which Francis attended) and the original Chapel of San Giorgio. Now it is the Chapel of the Crucifix, where the San Damiano Cross hangs. (More on the cross later.)

Porta Nuova Gate
The "New Gate" 
built in the 14th Century

The walk is stunning, with beautiful views of the countryside, below Assisi. Though it isn't that far, it is downhill, so wear comfy shoes.

We have been called to heal wounds,
unite what has fallen apart
and to bring home those who have lost their way.
~ Francis of Assisi 

On the way down, there is a very small chapel, that unfortunately, I don't know anything about!

Well, I do know that it's been locked every time I have walked past it.

I was able to peak through the locked gates, and through a tiny, open, square in the door, and and take this photo.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Son,
Who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
~ Francis of Assisi 
From Canticle of the Creatures

The sign on gnarled tree says to treat yourself to something good and that here you can find the most recent harvest oil! Not sure if it was at the closest house, or what. 

A single sunbeam
is enough to drive away many shadows.
~ Francis of Assisi

Looking out toward Santa Maria degli Angeli, below ...

It must be Brother Leo transcribing the "rule" of the Franciscan Order, from Francis, both seated below the beautiful mosaic.

Almost there ...

My selfie with Francis …

Saint Clare

San Damiano

Altar in the courtyard with Mary, baby Gesù, Francis and Clare ...

When you enter the church, which still a convent, you aren't allowed to take photos, and you are supposed to visit in silence, or at least be very very quiet.

You enter through the Chapel of Saint Jerome, with frescoes by Tiberio D'Assisi (16th Century) then through another tiny chapel with a wooden crucifix by Fra Innocenzo da Palermo (1637)

My sketch detail of Fra Innocenzo's crucifix
graphite on paper

Photo, below courtesy of Wikipedia, public domain photos.
Nave of the main church of San Damiano

What hangs in the church is a replica. As I mentioned, the original cross is up at the Basilica of Saint Clare. The significance of the cross is that when Francis was roaming the area, trying to find himself, he came upon a dilapidated San Damiano church and when he prayed to this cross he heard the word of God. It said to him,"Francis, do you not see that my house is falling into ruin? Go and repair it for me."

San Damiano Cross

This was a huge turning point for Francis, and years he would write his famous Canticle of the Creatures here, in Clare's garden, while she and the sisters nursed him in sickness. 

When Clare left her old life of nobility, and decided to follow Francis, they ended up handing this place over to her (I'm sort of giving you the Cliff's notes here…) and this is where she lived out her life, until her death in 1194 at the age of 59.

Clare's dormitory, San Damiano
Pastel on Paper

Above, is the dormitory where she and the original sisters slept and in the far right corner, a candles burns. This is where miracles occurred and spot where she passed. Many people come to pray for miracles of healing. It is quite bare, always silent and very very peaceful.

We become what we love, 
and who we love, shapes what we become.
~ Clare of Assisi

The beautiful cloister ...

You might be able to make out a sculpture, of Francis, close to the center of the photo, below. From inside, you see it out a window. It is the window where Clare saw Francis for the last time, as the brothers carried his body, after his death, past her window and up to the Chapel of San Giorgio, in Assisi.

This is an incredible place, where Francis spent time both rebuilding the church and convalescing in Clare's garden and Clare spent decades of her life cloistered here. 

There aren't a lot of tourists, and you really feel the history and presence of these two souls … these two Saints. I can't imagine a visit to Assisi, without spending time here. It feels truly blessed and sacred.

To see my springtime post of San Damiano, on this blog, click here.

To read more and see photos of the interior of the Basilica of Santa Chiara, click here.
For more on the San Damiano Cross, click here.
For more on the convent of San Damiano, with more interior photos, 
click here.

He who works with his hands 
is a laborer
He who works with his hands and his head
is a craftsman
He who works with his hands, his head and his heart
is an artist.
~ Francis of Assisi

Blessings and light!


Rick Forrestal said...

Beautiful birthday wishes to you.
Your photos are special.

Suzanna said...

Happy Birthday, Lucinda...I so much enjoy following along on your travels...

Arti said...

Great to know you, Lucinda.I love the photographs, makes me wish to be there as you took them!Best,

LeeAnn at Mrs Black's said...

These are such lovely images! I miss this part of the world and you have taken me on a wonderful journey remembering. I must read more of your blog .... x

Marty said...

happy birthday Lucinda !
beautiful images ! a nice day I think !

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing these images and the history. What a beautiful place. Your pictures and art...and the selected quotes are wonderful. Happy Birthday!

Joop Zand said...

Happy Birthday Lucinda
and thanks for this wonderful post from a lovely place in Italy.

Ciao, Joop

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Happy Birthday, Happy Remembering, Happy images. Happy happy to you!!

donna baker said...

What a birthday that was. So beautiful. Loved the selfie. Hope this birthday was a wonderful one too.

isabella kramer - veredit said...

Oh Lucinda, I am ashamed! I missed your birthday. ...:((

Subsequently all the best for you.

Thank you so much for this amazing and interesting walk with you around Assisi.

ciao, ciao e un abbraccio.

Cobalt Violet said...

Thanks for the visits, the comments and birthday wishes!!!! Big hugs to all!

jmac said...

this was the same walk I took on my last afternoon in Assisi. I think you and I must have the same photographic eye for I have almost the exact same images that you have. I even have an olive branch with 3 olives on it that I brought home with me from here.
Such beauty...