Mic gifts Pope Benedict XVI a Bronze sculpture of Saint Francis of Assisi rebuilding the church of San Damiano.
Palanca Receiving the Stigmata
At last the time comes and Francis exclaims, “You do love me Father.” As the pain shoots through his entire being, he accepts the wounds of Jesus Christ with great joy. He was blessed with the sufferings he so endured for the love of God and the hope for mankind. He has been touched by God and given the ultimate approval, the wounds of Jesus Christ, the Stigmata. This painful joy of all humanity was first expressed 1200 years before when Christ died for our sins.
Francis with Great Joy
The realization begins. With the Lord in his heart and extreme joy on his face, Francis takes the grand news and hurries back to his father’s house. “It’s a new day! Can you feel the joy?” he exclaims to his parents Pica and Peter. He says his goodbyes and explains, “From this day on I give up all worldly goods and say My Father in heaven.” Francis followed the gospel of Jesus from this day on, and walked in the footsteps of His Lord.
Francis cutting Clare’s hair
As Francis prepared for his journey he went to say goodbye to Clare who was his sister in Christ. He promised her that the brothers would look after her and her sisters. He told her that he may not return from this trip. As he placed his hand on her shoulder he spoke with great joy the blessings of life and the friendship of love that God gave them.
The Road/Looking for a New Life
Francis found himself lost in the world that surrounded him. His family was foreign to him. His mother always believed he would become a man of God, and his father would expect him to carry on the duties of the family business, but this was a life that was not his. Lost, he became aloof to the responsibilities of normal life. He was not to become a great warrior to make his family proud, he was not to become a wealthy merchant like his father. Feeling the need to leave home, he went searching for a new life. Francis wandered the countryside of Assisi, living and breathing freedom, noticing all the beauty around him. He especially loved the caves and silent pathways of the beautiful Mount Subasio. What was he looking for?
As his love for God grew in Francis, so did his hunger. No longer did he have the luxuries of food and wine. He remembered the days in his father’s fabric shop when the beggar approached him asking for alms. Now Francis, the fool of Assisi, was begging for food. Later he taught his followers, his brothers, “When we must eat, God will provide as he does for our brothers and sisters the birds. So go and ask for food in the name of God. And if they offer you wine, tell them you’re already intoxicated with the (spirit) light of Jesus.”
Francis Preaching to the Birds
Francis loved Mother Earth and nature was his home. The birds and animals loved to hear Francis pray and speak to them. He often praised them for their luxuries and how God provided for them daily. One day of many for Francis, a cool breeze rushed in with hundreds of birds. They were all in silence to hear Francis’ word from God. To this day, the world knows Francis as the lover of animals and birds. He was later canonized as the patron saint of animals. This is only a small part of his teachings. Francis loved to spread the true gospel of Jesus for peace and love for everything and everyone. The story of him preaching to the birds is a great story, but not the only teachings he provided.
Francis and Brother Wolf
The town of Gubbio was under attack by a vicious murderous wolf. Francis left Assisi and went to see if he could help. He was warned that the wolf was killing sheep and people. Francis asked God to protect him and went straight to the wolf. The wolf charged with blood filled fangs and stopped at the kneeling Francis. Francis said. “Why are you killing these kind people and God’s creatures of Gubbio?” The wolf replied, “Because God provides me with succulent sheep to eat and people are mean to me.” Francis placed his hands on the wolf and immediately the dog was tamed and now had dog like features. Francis promised him if he no longer killed the people and sheep of Gubbio, the people would feed him when he was hungry.
Francis and Brother Fire
It’s another night in the Umbrian valley as Francis meditates. His face radiates with the light of the moon and the fire. As the night becomes dark Francis continues to pray. He considers the fire his brother and thanks God for providing light and heat for the night. He now knows what he has to do. He realizes that it is time for a journey.
The Deep Heart of Francesco
Pace e bene
Francis and Brother Leper
As Francis grew with the light of Jesus, so did his disciples. His first followers were Leone, Bernardo, Juniper, and Massio. As Francis and his brothers wandered in prayer, Francis heard another voice. “Francis, do you love me?” “Yes Father!” Francis replied. Then go embrace your brother the leper. Growing up in the times when lepers were many, Francis’ first instinct was disgust and repulsiveness. But Francis loved God with all his heart. He closed his mind and took the major leap. He embraced the leper and kissed him. Francis turned to his Brothers Minor radiating his ultimate joy to them. As he turned back to embrace the leper, he was no longer standing beside Francis. Was the leper possibly Jesus coming to test Francis? Oh how he must have wept.
Francis Embraces Sister Death
Francis and Leone left Mount La Verna, Francis’ final request was to be placed near the Porzuncula, the tiny chapel home of his brothers just below Assisi. He asked to be placed where he could see his beloved Assisi. Before he died, there was much sadness from his brothers. They were losing their father. Francis said, “There will be no weeping for this is a day of great joy and you must carry on with me in your heart. My day has come and I have been truly thankful for my journey. God has blessed me with my brothers. When I die, bring me to San Damiano, so Clare and her sisters can see me at peace. Pace e Bene to all of you, for there is no greater love than God and the blessings he provides. Remember we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Continue to pray for world peace. Pace e Bene.”