Blessed by our pilgrimage to Assisi
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - October 22, 2019 - 12:00am

PERUGIA, Italy — One of the greatest blessings we have received, aside from the visits to Fatima, Portugal, Lourdes, France, and the Vatican, is this pilgrimage to the town where St. Francis was born, and where he is buried. Assisi is a remote mountainous town in Perugia in the region of Umbria, the hinterlands of Italy. This is the birthplace and the burial sites of two saints; St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order, and St. Clare, founder of the Order of Poor Clares. From our stay in Florence and Pisa, as well as our quick detour to Forli, we find Assisi a really special and hallowed place.

In this town, Saint Francis was born as Giovanni Pietro de Bernardone but his father, a rich silk merchant and nobleman, changed his name to Francis. This son of a wealthy man was touched by God, and in the center of the town, he stripped himself of his richly garments, returned everything he possessed to his father, wore a sackcloth, renounced all form of material wealth, and then embraced a life of poverty. He lived a life of simplicity, joy, and compassion. He died at the age of 44, on October 3, 1226, after founding the Order of Franciscan Minors, one of the biggest congregations today, dedicated to the vow of poverty. In less than two years, he was canonized saint by Pope Gregory IX.

Today, St. Francis is the patron saint of hundreds of churches all over the world. He is the patron saint of Dumanjug, Cebu, which just recently celebrated its fiesta. I wish to bring Mayor Gingun Gica and Vice Mayor Wado Gica and their parents, Atty. Edgar Gica and Mrs. Marna Zozobrado Gica to Assisi so they can start a movement to build a bigger basilica and make Dumanjug the Philippines' center of Franciscan devotion. The Pope will be very happy, as he has chosen to be named Francis, the first of all the popes to be named after the famous saint from Assisi.

Here in Assisi, the Papal Basilica of Saint Francis dominates the mountain where it stands as a living monument to the saint’s greatness. It’s now one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world, and St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in all history. The cathedral has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The other basilica is the one of Santa Ciara or Saint Clare, not far from the Papal Basilica of St. Francis. Another curious site is the Eremo de la Carcelis, a small hermitage located in a steep forest gorge at Monte Surbasio near Assisi. Also the Temple of Minerva, which now houses the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

We are also awed by the Cathedral of San Rufinos, the Rocca Maggiore, a fortified citadel on top of the tallest mountain in Assisi, that served as a defense fortification in the olden times against invading forces. Then there is Chisia Nouva, a church built on the site where St. Francis was born. There are many other attractions in Assisi. Far as it is, I vow to come back and stay longer, together with my relatives from Dumanjug.

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