In a small village not far from Florence, Italy, a thirteenth-century soldier was imprisoned. The son of a rich merchant, this young soldier had been “lost” for most of his life when suddenly he had a vision to serve God in an unconditional way. He gave up all material possessions, ultimately living and teaching the message of Jesus of Nazareth. This was the man who would come to be known as Saint Francis of Assisi. He became renowned for helping many by simply being in their presence. Wild animals and birds became tame near him, meekly tickling his fingers and flying into his open hands.
On a pilgrimage many years ago, I went to Lower Assisi to visit the tiny chapel that Saint Francis had prayed in every day. The chapel still stands in its exact condition from that time. Today it is surrounded by a spacious building with glorious stained glass windows and an ornate ceiling. Thousands of people mill about in this outer structure; all are in Assisi to pray and pay homage to the thirteenth-century saint. The visitors come and go every day from all over the globe, in solemn, somber, loving tribute to this divine being.
I was escorted into the tiny chapel Continue Reading