Tag Archives: Assisi

16 February. Little Flowers of Saint Francis XLVIII: Brother Ruffino 5, the beautiful sermon.

chris-preaching

The folk of Assisi beholding Saint Francis in the self-same guise as Brother Ruffino, made mock of him, deeming that he and Brother Ruffino had grown mad through overmuch penance.

Saint Francis entered into the church where Brother Ruffino was preaching these words “Dearly beloved, flee from the world and put away sin; render to others their due, if ye would escape from hell; follow the commandments of God, in loving God and your neighbour, if ye would go to heaven; do penance, if ye would possess the kingdom of heaven.”

Then Saint Francis went up into the pulpit, and began to preach so marvellously of the contempt of the world, of holy penitence, of voluntary poverty, and of the desire of the kingdom of heaven, and of the nakedness and shame of the passion of our Lord Jesu Christ, that all they that heard the preaching, men and women in great multitude, began to weep most bitterly with devout and contrite hearts; and not there alone, but in all Assisi was there that day such weeping for the passion of Christ, that never had there been the like.

And the people being thuswise edified and comforted by this act of Saint Francis and Brother Ruffino, Saint Francis re-clad Brother Ruffino and himself and so re-clad, they returned to the House of Portiuncula, praising and glorifying God, that had given them grace to overcome themselves, by the contempt of themselves, and to edify the little sheep of Christ by good example, and to show how greatly the world is to be despised. And on that day so much did the devotion of the people towards them increase, that he deemed himself blessed whoso could touch the hem of their garment.

Let’s pray that Brother Chris’s work in Zimbabwe is prospering. Lord hear us.

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15 February. Little Flowers XLVII: Brother Ruffino 4, the beautiful sermon.

 

chris-preaching

Of the beautiful sermon preached in Assisi by Saint Francis and Brother Ruffino

Brother Ruffino, through continual contemplation, was so absorbed in God, that he became as it were insensible and dumb, spake but seldom, and therewithal had neither the gift of preaching, nor boldness nor eloquence therein; nevertheless Saint Francis on a time bade him go to Assisi and preach to the people whatsoever God might inspire him withal. Wherefore Brother Ruffino answered: ‘Reverend father, I pray thee pardon me and send me not; for, as thou knowest, I have not the gift of preaching, but am simple and ignorant.’

Then quoth Saint Francis: “Seeing that thou hast not obeyed incontinent, I command thee by holy obedience that thou get thee to Assisi naked as thou wast born, save in thy breeches only, and enter into a church and preach unto the people.” At this command, the said Brother Ruffino stripped himself and went to Assisi and entered into a church, and having done reverence to the altar went up into the pulpit and began to preach; for the which cause the children and the men began to laugh, and said: “Now look you how these fellows do so much penance that they become fools and are beside themselves.”

Meantime, Saint Francis, bethinking him of the ready obedience of Brother Ruffino, the which was one of the most noble gentlemen of Assisi, and of the hard commandment he had laid upon him, began to chide himself, saying : Whence comes to thee such boldness, thou son of Peter Bernardoni, vile wretch, to command Brother Ruffino, that is one of the most noble gentlemen of Assisi, to go and preach to the people like a madman? By God, thou shalt have proof in thine own self of what thou biddest others do.” And straightway in fervour of spirit he stripped himself in like fashion, and set out for Assisi, and took with him Brother Leo to carry his habit and that of Brother Ruffino.

Brother Chris sent us this image of himself preaching, modestly.

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12 January: Little Flowers of Saint Francis XLVI: The Temptations of Brother Ruffino, 3.

Croix Rousse large

Saint Francis promised Brother Ruffino that, “this temptation will bring to thee great profit and consolation, and very shortly shalt thou prove it”. So what happened after Ruffino was utterly impolite to the devil?

The devil being exceeding wroth, gat him away incontinent with so furious a tempest and shaking of the rocks of Mount Subassio, which was hard by, that the loud noise of the rocks that fell down lasted a great while ; and so furiously did they strike the one against the other as they rolled down, that the valley was lit up with horrible flashes of fire: and at the terrible din that they made, Saint Francis and his companions came out of the House, in great amazement, for to see what strange thing had befallen; and still to this day is seen that exceeding great ruin of rocks.

Then Brother Ruffino knew of a surety that it had been the devil that had deceived him. And going back to Saint Francis, he threw himself again upon the ground, and confessed his fault; and Saint Francis comforted him with sweet words, and sent him back full of consolation to his cell, wherein as he was most devoutly praying, there appeared to him Christ, the blessed One, and rekindled all his soul with love divine and said: “Thou hast done well, my son, to believe in Saint Francis, for he that made thee His sad was the devil: but I am Christ thy Master; and to make thee sure thereof, I give thee this sign: Whilst thou dost live, thou shalt no more feel sadness nor melancholy.”

And this said, Christ departed, leaving him in such gladness and sweetness of spirit and uplifting of the mind, that day and night he was absorbed and rapt in God. And from that time forth he was
so strengthened in grace and in certainty of his salvation, that he became altogether changed into another man; and would have continued day and night in prayer and in contemplation of the things of God, if the others had suffered him. Wherefore Saint Francis said of him that Brother Ruffino was in this life canonised by Christ, and that, save in his presence, he would not doubt to call him Saint Ruffino, albeit he was still alive on earth.

Icon by CW

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11 January: Little Flowers of Saint Francis XLV: The Temptations of Brother Ruffino, 2.

flowers.francis.illustration

Yesterday we read how Francis was made aware of Ruffino’s belief that he was damned, and his subsequent misery. We take up the story when Brother Masseo has called Ruffino to visit Francis. Francis emulates the father of the prodigal son and then gives some very earthy advice!

Saint Francis seeing Brother Ruffino coming from afar off, began to cry out: “O thou miserable Brother Ruffino, in whom hast thou believed?” And when Brother Ruffino was come up to him, Saint Francis recounted to him in order all the temptation that he had had of the devil within and without, and showed him clearly that what had appeared to him was the devil and not Christ, and that he ought in no wise to consent unto his promptings. But when the devil should say to thee again: “Thou art damned! do thou answer : Open thy mouth, for I fain would void on thee! and this shall be to thee the sign that he is the devil and not Christ; for as soon as thou shalt give him this answer, he will flee away incontinent.

Moreover by this token shouldst thou have known that he was the devil and not Christ, in that he hardened thy heart to all goodness, the which thing is his own proper office; but Christ, the blessed One, never hardeneth the heart of the faithful, nay, rather he softeneth it, as he saith by the mouth of the prophet: I will take away the stony heart and I will give you a heart of flesh”. (Ezekiel 36:26) Then Brother Ruffino, seeing that Saint Francis told him in order all the manner of his temptation, touched to the heart by his words, began to weep bitterly, and fell down before Saint Francis and humbly confessed his fault in having kept his temptation hidden. And thus he abode altogether consoled and comforted by the admonishments of the holy father, and wholly changed for the better.

Then at the last Saint Francis said unto him: “Go, my little son, and shrive1 thee, and relax not the zeal of thy wonted prayers: and know of a surety that this temptation will bring to thee great profit and consolation, and very shortly shalt thou prove it.” So Brother Ruffino returned to his cell in the wood, and continuing in prayer with many tears, behold the enemy came to him in the form 0f Christ, as to outward semblance, and said to him: “O Brother Ruffino, have I not told thee that thou shouldest not believe the son of Peter Bernardoni, nor shouldest weary thyself in tears and prayers, seeing that thou art damned? What doth it profit thee to afflict thyself while yet alive, and then when thou shalt die thou wilt be damned?” And straightway Brother Ruffino made answer to the devil: “Open thy mouth, for I fain would void on thee.”

1Confess your sins to a priest
End Paper of The Little Flowers of Saint Francis.

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6 June: Little Flowers of Saint Francis XXIV: How Saint Clare ate with Saint Francis, 1. (Shared Table XVIII)

pilgrimsatramsgate (640x480)

We continue the theme of shared table in the next three posts from the Little Flowers of Saint Francis.

How Saint Clare ate with Saint Francis and the brothers, his companions, in St Mary of the Angels

WHENAS Saint Francis was at Assisi, oftentimes he visited Saint Clare and gave her holy admonishments. And she having exceeding great desire to once break bread with him, oft-times besought him thereto, but he was never willing to grant her this consolation ; wherefore his companions, beholding the desire of Saint Clare, said unto Saint Francis: “Father, it
doth appear to us that this severity accordeth n0t with heavenly charity : since thou givest not ear unt0 Sister Clare, a virgin so saintly, so beloved of God, in so slight a matter as breaking bread with thee, and above all bearing in mind that she through thy preaching abandoned the riches and pomps of the world. And of a truth, had she asked of thee a greater boon than this, thou oughtest so to do unto thy spiritual plant.”

Then replied Saint Francis: “Doth it seem good to you that I should grant her prayer?” Rejoined his companions: “Yea, father, fitting is it that thou grant her this boon and consolation.” Then spake Saint Francis : “Since it seems good to you, it seems so likewise unto me. But that she may be the more consoled, I will that this breaking of bread take place in Saint Mary of the Angels; for she has been so long shut up in St Damian that it will rejoice her to see again the house of Saint Mary, where her hair was shorn away and she became the bride of Jesu Christ; and there let us eat together in the name of God.”

I like the way Francis listened to his brothers and considering their advice, followed it. In Francis and Clare’s time, the sisters were all enclosed in their convents, unlike the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Littlehampton in this photo. WT.

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4 October: Pope Francis in Assisi

Pope Francis in Assisi - OSS_ROM

 On the Feast of Saint Francis we invite you to share Pope Francis’s words of peace at Assisi last year.

Appeal for Peace of His Holiness Pope Francis

Piazza of Saint Francis, Assisi

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Men and women of various religions, we gather as pilgrims in the city of Saint Francis.  Thirty years ago in 1986, religious representatives from all over the world met here at the invitation of Pope John Paul II.  It was the first such solemn gathering that brought so many together, in order to affirm the indissoluble bond between the great good of peace and an authentic religious attitude.  From that historic event, a long pilgrimage was begun which has touched many cities of the world, involving many believers in dialogue and in praying for peace.  It has brought people together without denying their differences, giving life to real interreligious friendships and contributing to the resolution of more than a few conflicts.  This is the spirit that animates us: to bring about encounters through dialogue, and to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism.   And yet, in the years that have followed, numerous populations have nonetheless been painfully wounded by war.  People do not always understand that war harms the world, leaving in its wake a legacy of sorrows and hate.  In war, everyone loses, including the victors.

We have prayed to God, asking him to grant peace to the world.  We recognize the need to pray constantly for peace, because prayer protects the world and enlightens it.  God’s name is peace.  The one who calls upon God’s name to justify terrorism, violence and war does not follow God’s path.  War in the name of religion becomes a war against religion itself.  With firm resolve, therefore, let us reiterate that violence and terrorism are opposed to an authentic religious spirit.

We have heard the voice of the poor, of children and the younger generations, of women and so many brothers and sisters who are suffering due to war.  With them let us say with conviction: No to war!  May the anguished cry of the many innocents not go unheeded.  Let us urge leaders of nations to defuse the causes of war: the lust for power and money, the greed of arms’ dealers, personal interests and vendettas for past wrongs.  We need a greater commitment to eradicating the underlying causes of conflicts: poverty, injustice and inequality, the exploitation of and contempt for human life.

May a new season finally begin, in which the globalized world can become a family of peoples.  May we carry out our responsibility of building an authentic peace, attentive to the real needs of individuals and peoples, capable of preventing conflicts through a cooperation that triumphs over hate and overcomes barriers through encounter and dialogue.  Nothing is lost when we effectively enter into dialogue.  Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer.  Everyone can be an artisan of peace.  Through this gathering in Assisi, we resolutely renew our commitment to be such artisans, by the help of God, together will all men and women of good will.

 

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3 October: The Transitus of Saint Francis

On the Eve of Saint Francis’ Day, his daughters and sons gather to honour his transitus – his passing from this world to Eternity with the God he loved. There is no fixed rite for this celebration, but this is the one I have joined in at the Franciscan International Study Centre in recent years. It was adapted by Sister Clare, now the Superior General of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Littlehampton. She has arranged it for different speakers, but feel free to adapt it to suit your group, or just to read it alone.

MMB.

Thank you Clare!

The service took place in the evening, in a darkened chapel. A Franciscan habit was spread on the floor before the altar, surrounded by candles. One candle would suffice to read this by at home.

candle

Transitus of St. Francis

(n1, n2, CANTOR, LEADER)

1.      [Narrator 1] At this time Francis was staying in the palace of the Bishop of Assisi, and he therefore asked the brothers to take him as quickly as possible to the place of St. Mary of the Portiuncula. For he wished to give back his soul to God in that place where, as has been said, he first knew the way of truth perfectly.

2.      [N 2] Then blessed Francis, despite the overpowering burden of his sickness, praised the Lord in a great joyful outburst of body and soul, saying to his companion: “Since I must soon die, have Brother Angel and Brother Leo come and praise our Sister Death for me.” Both arrived and, forcing back their tears, sang the “Canticle of Brother Sun” and of the other creatures, which the saint had composed during his sickness for the glory of God and for the consolation of his soul and of that of the others.

Antiphon: 

Cantor: Alleluia
Francis, poor and humble, enters heaven rich and is welcomed with celestial hymns.
Alleluia

1Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,

Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honour, and all blessing,

2To You alone, Most High, do they belong,

and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

3Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun,

Who is the day and through whom You give us light.

4And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour;

and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

5Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,

in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

6Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,

and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,

through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

7Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,

who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

8Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire.

through whom You light the night,

and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

9Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,

who sustains and governs us,

and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.

10Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,

and bear infirmity and tribulation.

11Blessed are those who endure in peace

for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

12Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,

from whom no one living can escape.

13Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,

for the second death shall do them no harm.

14Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks

and serve Him with great humility.1

All:

Alleluia
Francis, poor and humble, enters heaven rich and is welcomed with celestial hymns.
Alleluia

3.      [N 1] While therefore the brothers were weeping very bitterly and grieving inconsolably, the holy father commanded that bread be brought to him. He blessed and broke it and gave a small piece of it to each one to eat. Commanding also that a book of the Gospels be brought, he asked that the Gospel according to St. John be read to him from the place that begins: “Before the feast of the Passover.” He was recalling that most holy supper which the Lord celebrated as his last supper with his disciples. He did all of this in reverent memory of that supper, showing thereby the deep love he had for his brothers. John 13:1-17 

4.      [N 2] Then Francis spent the few days that remained before his death in praise, teaching his companions whom he loved so much to praise Christ with him. He himself, in as far as he was able broke forth in this psalm, “I cried to the Lord with my voice: with my voice I made supplication to the Lord.” He also invited all creatures to praise God. He exhorted death itself, terrible and hateful to all, to give praise, and going joyfully to meet it, he invited it to make its lodging with him. 

5.      [N 1] Francis then said to the brothers: “When you see that I am brought to my last moments, place me naked upon the ground just as you saw me the day before yesterday; and let me lie there after I am dead for the length of time it takes one to walk a mile unhurriedly.” The hour therefore came, and all the mysteries of Christ being fulfilled in him, he winged his way happily to God.

LEADER: Hail, holy father, light of your country, model of your friars,  mirror of virtue, path of rectitude, rule of conduct. From this exile of the flesh, lead us to the realms above.

ALL: Poor and humble Francis enters Heaven laden with riches.

LEADER: We pray to God our Father in the words Jesus himself taught us … Our Father who art in Heaven…

Let us pray. O God, Who this day gave to the soul of our holy father Francis the reward of everlasting bliss, be pleased to grant that we who, with loving hearts celebrate the memory of his departure, may deserve to obtain the same happiness for our reward. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

End of Transitus. [Quiet music: while all depart]

1Francis, The Canticle of the Creatures, FA:ED, vol, 1, pp. 113-4.

FMSL

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Further Notes from a Pilgrimage

3rd October Assisi

from .casa papa giovanni.foursquare

After siesta we had our own Transitus service for Francis. Michael, one of the pilgrims, was Francis, with others taking the part of Leo, Rufino and Lady Jacoba and a narrator. Very moving and they did it well. (The Transitus remembers St Francis’s transition from this life to the next, drawing on the memories of those who were present.)

Soon after that they all went down to Porziuncola for the Transitus there with the Minister General giving a blessing with the relic. that makes it sound short but of course it wasn’t, there were speeches of welcome etc from everyone to everyone, and especially from Assisi to Piedmont which is the district bringing the oil for the tomb of Francis this year. Then there was Evening Prayer and a long homily and finally the Blessing and more speeches and acceptance of the oil and more speeches! No corners are cut as a rule and this year seems to have been the same. I did not go as I went last year and think that will do, especially as I have now been through six holy doors and been to confession. No need to overdo things! The six doors are St John Lateran, St Peter’s, Rieti Cathedral, San Rufino, Porziuncola and San Francesco. I hope you are impressed!

This evening the people of Piedmont were given a free supper in the piazza by the comune. Tables and chairs filled half of it and on the other half the young men in mediaeval costume with their banners ready for the display, were hanging around. Some of them were really little boys but obviously proud of being there in the period costumes and with smaller banners. It is a smart move on the part of the Comune to bring them in so young and get them enthused, it secures the major tourist attraction for the future apart from keeping a tradition alive! Drums started up at about 10.00 but I think we were all in bed by then, pilgrimaging is tiring and by now it begins to show. Almost everyone goes to bed soon after supper which is about 8.30/9.00 by the time it is finished.

4 October
Today was The Feast so we began with Morning Prayer in the chapel here at Casa Papa Giovanni, a nice morning prayer based in the Canticle of Creation and honouring the five elements though at this moment I can’t recall what the fifth is!
After that we had a festive breakfast, which means that the pilgrims were offered bacon and scrambled eggs though this member of staff did not participate! Kumi, the nice Korean woman ate mine. She is the one who shocked us all by arriving off the plane in a wheelchair! In fact she has turned out to be a lovely, reflective woman, though walking a lot is not easy for her, she is very small boned and frail looking and has neuropathy in her feet. But she said the other day that she is much stronger for all the walking as at home she simply walks from the front door to the car. But she is going to go home with good resolutions! Breakfast once survived, we went down to the piazza to see the procession to the Basilica.

See photos here: 

This was only ten minutes late when the trumpeters blew their trumpets and the drums drummed, ear splittingly resonant in the enclosed piazza as there were about 20 drummers with big drums like oil drums! When the procession came, it was lovely, preceded by all the school children of Assisi schools who had made symbols of the Canticle of Creation and all came through waving suns and moons and stars and flowers and rain drop etc, made of coloured card and mounted on drinking straws. They stole the show as you can imagine. Then all the guilds, led by those of Piedmont and closed by those of Assisi, came with banners and coloured scarfs though only Assisi wears mediaeval clothes. They look heavy and the women’s dresses all drag on the ground and have trains which drag even more but would keep the mosquitoes out. That’s for sure. The procession made its way down the hill to San Francesco for the Grand Mass with whichever grandees of the church were around and some of the pilgrims joined in, on fact I think they all did. Una, an Irish sister, was right in the middle with the guilds who either did not care or thought she belonged to somebody else. The upshot was that she got into the basilica and had a seat while the rest were asked for tickets which they did not have!!!

At 12.00 we had a festive Mass at the Casa, homily from ft, and then a very festive pranzo, beginning with a mouthful of salmon on a thin slice of bread with lemon and another tiny slice with some sort of fish paste, a superior sort of fish paste actually. This was followed by manicotti which is a thin lasagna rolled around mozzarella cheese mixed with spinach. Then came either slices of veal, chips and veg and, as they have done each day, they made me a vegetarian dish, which I have never asked for but much appreciated. Usually it is some variant on aubergines and cheese and this was too, but very tasty. Finally we wound up with a kind of ice cream saturated in something or other very nice, with enough thin slices of cake around the edge to hold it up! Wine flowed of course and afterwards the house was very quiet!

After a little riposo I went down to San Francesco to look at the frescoes as I do a presentation on those in the lower basilica. Every year it gets easier and I feel more confident and could do it without my notes but I take them for the dates. Then I came back, about 4pm, nothing until 7.30 so I sat in the shade on the roof garden and read. What a treat! About 6.30 it began to get chilly and I came in and wrote a bit of this journal.

The pilgrims were out on their own for cena and we had ours with two friends of André who are joining us for these few days, two nice people, both of Italian extraction, here to celebrate their fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. Then about 7pm Murray invited me into his room for a pre-cena drink, then we went to supper with the couple and drank some wine. Then Antonella, the lady, produced some Alverna, a herbal digestivo. So the conversation got better and better as you can imagine, also louder and louder in true Italian style.

On that rather disedifying note, I will leave you for this posting and do more later. Love and prayers to all.

La Verna from Wikipedia

Dear All,

News from Rome

I know I said nothing about the wonderful day we had at La Verna where the weather was beautiful, and the Australian pilgrim and the two Poor Clares (not this one) climbed the mountain and came back with stunning photos of the mountain panorama all round them. Coming back in the bus we read to the pilgrims the letter which is read on the refectory on 30 September each year. This letter is Brother Masseo’s account of Francis leaving for the last time and saying farewell to the mountain and the falcon, thanking them, and to the rocks which had sheltered him. It is a very moving letter which I just managed to read aloud without getting choked up. Having had only cestini, bread and cheese or salami for the meat eaters, and water to drink, we were all glad of a very nice pasta supper when we got back to Casa Papa Giovanni.

One day we went down to San Rufino d’Arce, the church of the young Rufino, martyred because he would not lie. This is cared for by some Franciscan sisters, who welcomed us warmly as always, we had Mass there and then a short ritual in honour of St Mary Anne Cope who worked among the lepers at Molokai with Damian. She is one of the first canonised saints of USA and so especially dear to the Americans. Then on to the even smaller church of La Maddalena where it is probable that Clare and her sisters came to work with the lepers in the early days. This is not only a tradition in Assisi but also we know that Francis sent all those who joined him in the early days to spend time among the lepers, and that for a while this counted as a novitiate.

 

We know that he did nothing to make anything easier for Clare and it seems most probable that he would have insisted that she, Agnes, Pacifica and Filippa learnt in that same school. If so, this is the logical place, the chapel of the women lepers and just down the hill from San Damiano. There we had a ritual replicating the ‘funeral’ service which was said over any poor wretch diagnosed with leprosy, when they were given their begging bowl, bell and clapper to warn people, told always to stand downwind of anyone, not to approach anyone. It was a real death sentence, but a living death that could go on for years. Down at that actual place and looking up the hill towards Assisi, you can imagine how terrible that must have been to know that your family, friends, home and everything were there but unattainable. Actually when I looked at my choice collection of mosquito bites, in spite of anti-zanzare spray, I wondered how many of them had other things than leprosy. Each year there was a new podestà and one of his first duties was to go through the town and seek out any new lepers and remove them.

On the 6th the day began with Mass at the tomb of Francis followed by a presentation on the art of the upper basilica (André) and then the lower basilica (me – it went OK). At the end of all that they were all pretty bombed out. I went off and had an espresso then felt up to climbing the hill. Towards the top I met Luisa and Isabel, the two USA Poor Clares so we had yet another photocall. We also met in the afternoon and had a gelato together and a good chat as a result of which I forgot there was a lecture at 5.00 on finding the tombs, and that I was supposed to be there to do finding Clare’s tomb. By the grace of God and my two guardian angels, I arrived on time to do my half.

The day after St Francis was the Fair in Assisi. It began with Morning Prayer and then a festive breakfast. The next day too was festive food as it was our last meal together. The kitchen pulled put all the stops and gave us a  festive pranzo, which started with an antipasto of truffles on a thin slice of bread and some little round rusk like biscuits with mozarella and an olive, very tasty!  It closed as it should, with Tiramisù and champagne! One of these days, maybe the day of the feast, Murray went out and bought porchetta for himself and André and two friends. Porchetta is a slice of young pig which is roasted whole with traditional herbs then eaten cold with good local bread. Since I don’ t eat meat I too went shopping at the stalls and bought a huge slice of Piedmontese focaccia bread with olives and tomatoes in, also some pecorello (sheep or goat’s milk)  cheese and a small jar of honey to go with it, some olives and coils of liquorice which I treated myself to. I also stocked up on striped socks!  So lunch was a light hearted affair and everyone tucked into the focaccia as well as their own porchetta.

I also managed to call in at the art shop where the work of several artists is represented, and Allesandro was offering me, thanks to Murray’s introduction, a couple of pictures which I might like for the cover of volume four part two. We shall see. The deal is that he and his brother who is the artist, have a copy each which they display in shop or studio and I have the picture for free. Sounds good me.

Then finally we arrived at the closing ritual. They had gelled into such a lovely group. After some readings and prayer, each of us said a little something and then we gave each pilgrim a Tau cross and sent them off to be ‘champions of the Tau’ in the words of Innocent III.

Next morning it was up early and on the bus by 4.30 to head for Rome and the first flight out for USA. That was this morning, though it seems like a lifetime away but as the evening moves on, it feels like I have not been to bed for a very long time, so that is all I am going to write tonight!

Love and prayers to one and all
ft

 

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Notes from a Pilgrimage: Bastia San Paolo and San Damiano

 

Clare.800px-Simone_Martini_047

This morning we went to San Paolo in Bastia, where Clare went, accompanied by some of the friars, after they had received her into their fraternity at the Porziuncola. History does not record what the Benedictines felt or thought when she turned up at 2 or 3 in the morning with a bunch of scruffy young men, and in fact they did not take her into the enclosure but possibly into the guest house, or even the servants’ quarters. This becomes quite clear when you are there as the chapel with the altar which scholars seem certain is the one to which she clung when the family accosted her, is obviously not a big monastic choir and would never have had rooms for all the nuns. So it must have been some sort of outside chapel. It is quite little, perhaps three times as big as our chapel in Hollington.

The sister who always used to bring over the Mass things for us from their monastery in Bastia was called Sister Noemi. But about two years ago she was elected abbess so we have not seen her. So it was a lovely aurprise when she came over herself together with the previous abbess, Madre Cecilia, who had been abbess when we had the Poor Clare pilgrimage and had gone to their monastery as they are the descendants of San Paolo. We had a nice chat, she told me that they had a profession last week but have also taken in six elderly sisters from two monasteries which have had to close. The protomonastery have done the same, so it looks as if there have been several closures over the last year or so. I asked her if there was really nothing in their archives (which is what they had told me earlier) about the incident with Clare and her family, and she replied that she had been thinking about it too and thinks it possible that there is something on the archives of San Giuseppe in Assisi. When the monastery was invaded, the sisters grabbed what they could and fled, but went back late to collect other stuff. Some sisters went to Bastia but some also went into Assisi to the monastery of San Giuseppe. So I will write to them (sometime) and see if there is anything there.

We had a beautiful Mass and we three Poor Clares renewed our vows. The other two are both from the Philippines originally but now in different monasteries in USA. They are having a wonderful time, bowled over almost every day! They will go home exhausted but topped up for a long while to come.

So back to the Casa for pranzo and a minimal reposo since we were back in taxis at 3.45 to go to San Damiano for Clare, These are the Clare days. There were crowds of people there and since nobody is allowed to talk inside the monastery, I had to do all the input outside. Murray is on good terms with the Irish friars there, and asked the reason for this new prohibition which makes things very difficult. He said that there had been some incidents and friars leading groups had been very confrontational with the resident friars so the whole community in chapter had decided to insist on silence throughout the monastery. Understandable since it is not only their home but also their novitiate but hard on those who come for a once in a lifetime visit. One our way back through the Piazza Commune, there was a concert going on to raise money for those whose homes were damaged in the earthquake. This includes some of the Poor Clares, mainly those in Camerino as you probably know. I had a couple of letters to translate about it which Cortona were going to circulate.

We closed our visit to San Damiano by going into their small conference room where we had a Ritual of Healing. Murray had found a little bottle of nard so we used that, the scent was wonderful and lingered. It was especially appropriate as at Bastia we had used the gospel about Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with costly ointment, pure nard. People really gave themselves to the ceremony and it was very moving. As it is a small group we both anointed everyone and then Murray and I anointed each other. Then we hopped back into taxis and up to the Casa where their day was not finished since they had a lecture at 6 on the Office of the Passion in preparation to La Verna tomorrow and after supper Murray had a poetry reading. Everyone was tired but as he got into his stride they all got caught up in it and woke up and entered into the poems. He does it so well and the poems he uses are very accessible and he introduces them well, so it is always a good experience.

A long day but a good one. Tomorrow off to the mountain, two hours nearly each way by bus; early start, 6.45 breakfast, never my favourite moment, watch this space.

Love to all and prayers in each place ft

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Notes from a Pilgrimage: VII.

San Damiano, by Gunnar Bach Petersen

More news from Sister Frances Teresa in Assisi

27 September
Our adventures have not been as exciting as those of another group here, school children, 15 or 16, from two Catholic Colleges in USA. These run a senior programme in Franciscan studies and bring them here at the end of the year for a week in Assisi. The week before coming away, one of the girls kicked the football and her Achilles Tendon snapped, extremely painful. Then during the week, another child fell and broke her ankle and two of the staff spent most of the night at Perugia Hospital. Neither child wanted to go home and miss anything, so both hobbled round on crutches which must have been challenging for the team leaders. Fortunately they were six, the number relevant to student numbers that USA schools require. One was the head of the school, an ex-military man from Afghanistan who had them all exactly where he wanted them, no nonsense although he was so friendly with them and a nice bloke. But when he said ‘6.00pm’ they were there!!

On Tuesday we had our first visit to San Damiano, for Francis this time, so they were warned not to ask about Clare! San Damiano’s new guardian has forbidden any talking in the building so it all has to be done outside before you go in, when it doesn’t really make much sense! However we had a lovely Mass with Murray who preached about stones and had earlier given them his wonderful talk about Troubadours and the Canticle of Creation. After dinner, came some riposo and they had a bit of space until Andre’s lecture on the document on solitude, the preferred name for the rule for hermitages.

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Wednesday was the day for Cortona and Lake Trasimeno. The talk on solitude is a preparation for the day when we give them a doggy bag of two panini and two bottles of water and after getting there, send them off in silence for three hours. Getting there means a drive of about an hour to Tuscany in the rush hour. Then we went to the sanctuary of St Margaret of Cortona for which I had been detailed to do the historical input, starting from knowing nothing! I read a couple of pamphlets and put the talk and people seemed happy. The sister who ran the place were so nice and friendly and know the Poor Clares in Cortona. I would love to have visited them, but there is simply no time as after Mass we bundled back into the coach to go and catch the ferry to the island.

Once on the boat, we watched a nice couple with their black labrador dog, they had to put a muzzle on him to come on the boat and he did not like it. They were near us on the boat, the man was a cabin crew worker and spoke good English though they were Belgian. They clearly loved their dog and said he always went on holidays with them. When we came to leave, some hours later, the man came up in a rush to speak to the captain, then we saw him walk away and join his wife, but no sign of the dog though his wife was there. He put his arm round her and they hurried off. Clearly they had lost him, perhaps he had rushed off after a pheasant, of which there are lots on the island, though one pilgrim insisted they were peacocks. Alas.  However we will never know if they found their much loved dog, I hope they did. One comfort is that it is an island and another is that they clearly loved him so won’t abandon him, I keep praying to know they have met up but can’t see how even God can work that one!

It was lovely on the island though when Francis was there for Lent it may have been a lot tougher. The tradition is that he went on Shrove Tuesday with two loaves and returned on Maundy Thursday with one and a half. I had eaten mine by 2pm!! Apart from the anxiety about the dog, it was a lovely afternoon and clearly had been for all the pilgrims. They all slept on the coach coming back, saturated with sun and solitude! Maybe they were really relaxed too.

Love to one and all ft

29 September

Today was the feast of one of the pilgrims, Michael, a nice Australian bloke (or cobber?!) and also the day we went to Santa Chiara. Big day for me. We began with Mass at the tomb, which they only allow on two days a week, always a lovely Mass though I have big reservations about the tomb! After that we had a historical visit and they let us into the railed off transept to see the dossal and also to have prayer ritual in the San Damiano chapel. We think these favours are helped along by the fact that each year we carry all the coins collected in various boxes around the basilica, and change them into euros which the Italian banks will collect. This year I had nearly €400 worth of sterling. It is not so much the money as the weight. When we collected the box it weighed a ton and Andre struggled along with his bad back. I offed to take a turn but he said it weighed more than I do. If only! Finally we put it in a knapsack and carried a handle each. They should have a nice little consignment when US and Australian dollars are all collected. Michael, our Aussie component checked the exchange rate for me and I was dismayed to find a pound is almost down to a euro, £10 is €11.5 all because of Brexit they hasten to tell me on many occasions. Clearly the rest of the world thinks we went mad and hope it is temporary.
More anon with love to one and all.

I heard last night that Andrea Williams had just died, she was a longstanding friend and so lovely. Please pray for her and her children and grandchildren and all her friends.
ft

 

 

 

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