At 6:00 p.m. on May 26, 2020, the feast of the General Custody of the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Italy (Assisi) was celebrated for the first time together with the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.
Here is a little history. Immediately after St. Francis’ canonization, on July 16, 1228, Pope Gregory IX ordered that a magnificent church be erected in Assisi to honor the Seraphic Father St. Francis and preserve his mortal remains. The Pontiff himself blessed the cornerstone and in 1230, commanded that the body of the Saint be transported from the Church of San Giorgio to the new Basilica. He named the Basilica the “Head and Mother” of the Order of Friars Minor. In 1253, Pope Innocent IV solemnly consecrated both churches of the Basilica. In 1754, Benedict XIV elevated the Basilica to a Patriarchal Basilica and Papal Chapel.
The Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, presided over the Mass. Others participating included representatives of the Franciscan Families of the Diocese of Assisi, the President of the Region of Umbria, Donatella TESEI and the Mayor of Assisi, Stefania PROIETTI.
In his homily, Friar Carlos said, “What we are celebrating today is the living memorial of God’s presence in history, a presence manifested in the ‘evangelical smallness’ of St. Francis and in the ‘artistic grandeur’ of this temple….These walls, therefore, although precious and priceless for the artistic heritage they contain, would be barren if we did not commit ourselves to making the commandment we received from the Lord live inside us….This Basilica, using its special ‘language,’ is called to ‘dialogue with the world,’ with believers, non-believers, people of good will, those who honor peace, those who seek more humane and just alternatives in life and those who want to be imitators of Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis.…May the Seraphic Father help us to live our baptismal vocation fully, to transform ourselves into living stones built into the house of God—the Church, and to enthusiastically live our Franciscan vocation of being an ‘evangelical fraternity,’ open to the world and bearing urgent news.”
Because of the social distancing rules imposed due to the coronavirus, after Mass, only the friars belonging to the three communities of the Custody were able to continue celebrating the feast. They shared dinner together and spent some fraternal time in the refectory.
From the Custodial newsletter, “Sul Colle del Paradiso” [On the Hill of Paradise]
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