Nothing really changes in Assisi---well, except for this year (more about that later).
My second visit to Assisi was as magical as the first. There isn't the anything about Assisi that one would say 'been there, done that'" about. Because if you've seen the upper or lower basilica of St Francis, you'd gladly go again. And again.
We stayed in the same hotel as before (Hotel Umbra) and walked everywhere. The spirit of St. Francis continues to live in this place, and you don't have to try very hard at all to sense it. Just go with the flow.
Before leaving the States, my Franciscan friend, Sr Chris, had told me that the original San Damiano crucifix was going to be moved to its original location at San Damiano---the very place where Francis heard it speak. San Damiano was the church that he rebuilt---and also where Clare had her community of sisters. Francis later realized that Christ meant something beyond the literal when He told Francis to rebuild His church. You've seen the cross--copies of the cross. It's everywhere---now you know where it came from.
The cross had been moved to the Basilica of Santa Chiara when the Poor Clares moved to Santa Chiara, and had never been returned. It was only moved to San Damiano from June 15-19 this year, so we were very lucky to have had the opportunity to see and pray with it while in Assisi. The cross will return to Santa Chiara this week.
Assisi might possibly be my favorite place in the world---it is, for sure, my favorite place in Italy.
Once you visit Assisi, it gets into your bloodstream in a way that no other place can. If you've never been, and always wondered if you should go.....you should go. That is all.
And now the photos (and be sure to click on each photo to see it completely:
1. First known image of Francis by Cimabue---lower basilica
2. Francis preaching to the birds. (Giotto, upper basilica))
3. Clare--fresco by Simone Martini--lower basilica
4. Francis--fresco by Simone Martini--lower basilica
5. Francis' tomb---crypt
6. Bells at San Stefano---these are said to have rung spontaneously as Francis lay dying
7. San Damiano--Clare's place on the floor where she slept, and died.
8. San Damiano---original crucifix in its original place
9. Assis at sunset, with the bell tower of the Basilica of St Francis.