Monday, December 15, 2008

Assisi Part 3

At the Basilica of Santa Chiara, we saw the original San Damiano Crucifix that spoke to Francis. That was a beautiful spiritual experience. Then we went to the crypt where Saint Clare is buried. She looks beautiful, like she is incorrupt, but she is not. This is a wax figure which encases her bones. I think the Eucharist was there in a tabernacle behind her; there was a vigil light there, but our guide didn't know anything about it. Saint Clare was buried here because if she had been buried at San Damiano, which was outside the city walls, there was danger of her body being stolen. In another area of the crypt is a reliquary with Saint Clare's blond curls that St. Francis cut off when she chose to follow Francis and Jesus. There were also several habits that she had made for Francis and herself, plus a deacon's robe for Francis. That was very large. I guess it got gathered up when he put on a belt. Click here for further information.

Several people in our groups met the bishop of Assisi in Saint Clare's Plaza. He asked our prayers because his diocese is lacking in strong faith.

As we approached San Damiano, we saw a bronze statue of St. Francis sitting and gazing over the countryside. This place is a peaceful quiet place surrounded by olive trees and umbrella pines. We walked into the small chapel and were able to sit on the built in stone benches that Francis probably sat in. It is so small, about the size of my living room. This is where St. Francis heard the Lord talking to him through the familiar Byzantine crucifix, telling him to "Rebuild my church". We also saw the Poor Clare's refectory with the original furniture that Saint Clare and her sister's used. Upstairs was the dormitory where all the sister's slept. Here St. Clare held the monstrance out the window when the Saracens were invading. They don't know if they had invaded the inner courtyard, or the outer, so that are not sure which of 2 windows she used. This is also the spot where she had her vision of Christmas Mass at St. Francis Basilica, and where she died. What a place for prayer! To be in the places where Francis and Clare lived and prayed and died was indescribable. You must go some day. I wish we had much more time here.

The day we left Assisi, we went down to the plain to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. This basilica is built over the Portiuncula, the small chapel where St. Francis and his brothers lived. There is also a little stone hut in the Basilica that marks the spot where Francis died.

There is a plenary indulgence attached to anyone who is a pilgrim to this spot. St. Francis asked the Pope for the indulgence. He reluctantly gave it to St. Francis. When he asked for how long, Francis didn't want time, he wanted souls. So whenever anyone goes to confession, visits the Basilica and prays an Our Father and an Apostle's Creed for the Pope, they are given a Plenary Indulgence. It is called the Pardon of Assisi.

Other things of note here was a statue of St. Francis in the Basilica area. There are white doves there who always choose to nest on the statue.. Beyond the statue where some windows. Outside we could see a rose garden. When Francis had temptations agains the flesh, he threw himself into the rose bushes as a form of penance. Ever since then, these rose bushes do not have any thorns.
Here is more information on this basilica.

The food was great in Assisi. We had wine every night and bread with olive oil. Then some form of pasta (the prima piatta). The lasagne was to die for. Then the secondo piatta - usually some meat and vegetables. Then a dessert (dolci). Occasionally this was fruit, or a pastry or lemon pie, or ice cream. We had a lot of fun with the server named Leo. He was about 60 and obviously loved what he did.

1 comment:

Connie's Daughter said...

Wow, this sounds so cool, MaryDee! Thanks for sharing about your trip!!