Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spending Time with Saint Clare

The Piazza, The Temple, and Silvia
Today our pilgrims spend time with Saint Clare. They will spend time at theBasilica S. Chiara. The will walk down to the lower levels and spend time with Clare at her tomb. At the other end of this section of the church are important relics and artifacts. This includes robes, writings but especially the approved Order they she spent a life time trying to get approved by the Pope. This finally happened right before her death.

The upper level is magnificent. It lacks the beauty of the Basilica of St. Francis because many of the frescoes have been destroyed by the effects of earthquakes and plague. During times of plague the churches served as hospitals and the walls were washed down with lye water which erased the frescoes. Still, this church makes you pause, become silent and listen.

On the side chapel hangs the original Cross of San Damiano. We see replicas of it all over our campus. It is the iconic cross that marks one of the biggest and most important conversions in young Francis’ life and there it is.

In the main sanctuary hangs the Tavola of St. Clare, it is about six feet tall. On that wood is painted the main events of Clare's life.

The piazza outside is huge and hangs over a valley. The church is built of pink and white stone. I know the pilgrims will be moved today. When I was there I would visit Clare almost every morning before breakfast.

To get there the pilgrims will leave Casa Papa Giovanna and walk through the Piazza del Comune with its Roman Temple, towers, and fountain. They will spend time there in the evening.

Finally, tonight they go to Il Paradiso for Cena or dinner. This is a magnificent indoor/outdoor restaurant on the side of the mountain leading to San Damiano. The food will be great, the camaraderie memorable. If they are smart they will take a drink out of the stone fountain, it is Roman and it is not everyday a Hoosier gets to drink from a fountain from the Roman Empire!

When this day is over they will never ever again think of Clare as Francis’ sidekick but rather as a dynamic force in the world.

Assisi - Night and day

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