On May 24, 2022, the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, after years of the pandemic, this year, the community of the General Custody of Assisi was able to carry out its own day of celebration, together with many friars from the Friars Minor and the Capuchin Franciscans, as well as other local men and women religious. The Mayor of Assisi, Stefania PROIETTI, was also present, along with other faithful and pilgrims. As per tradition, the highlight of the event was the celebration of Mass in the Upper Basilica.
Friar Giovanni VOLTAN, the Assistant General for the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP) presided. In his homily, he invited us to look at St. Francis as our model to follow Jesus, our Lord. Indicating the surroundings of the basilica, Friar Giovanni said that there was “a desire to commemorate Francis by placing his personal story within the sacred narrative of salvation. This was done to show how Francis’ story, and our own story, when it intersects with Jesus, becomes an unprecedented, unique and unrepeatable story that completes the Gospel of Christ. It becomes like a fifth Gospel. It is a sacred story—the closer and more like Jesus the story is, the more attractive it becomes. Jesus asks you in this basilica: ‘Do you want to see me? Look at Francis. Do you want to see how a Christian lives? Look at Francis. Do you want to be a fulfilled person? Look at Francis, his dreams, his mistakes, his falls, his conversion and how he became a happy man.’ This basilica is meant to be a legend in the original sense of the Latin word: it is meant to be read…Francis loved Jesus so much that he wanted to resemble him in everything. Then again, perhaps it would be better and more correct to say Francis felt so loved by Jesus that he wanted to resemble him in everything. I believe this is the gratia loci of Assisi, the particular grace of this basilica, to show the good, beautiful and blessed life of Francis who, through his friars, welcomes every pilgrim, every believer, and every person who climbs this hill in search of peace, forgiveness and God.”
After the celebration, the men and women religious present were invited to a cordial inter-Franciscan breakfast, which was set out in various rooms of the Sacred Convent.
The annual feast of the General Custody of the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Italy (Assisi) began on May 23, 2022, with Evening Prayer I for the Dedication. The General Custos, Friar Marco MORONI, presided. The confreres of the community decorated the Tomb of St. Francis with a floral tribute. The feast concluded with Evening Prayer presided over by the Custodial Vicar, Friar Teofil PETRIȘOR, followed by a blessing with a relic of St. Francis.
Of course, the ancient principle of ubi missa ibi mensa always applies, therefore, the community enjoyed a festive dinner, which was a worthy ending to the day!
Friar Giulio CESAREO