August 17 - A Spiritual Day in Assisi

We awoke this morning to church bells and the cooing of pigeons outside our window. Breakfast is included at our accommodation and consisted of pastries, yogurt, fruit, cakes, and curiously enough, sausages much like hot dogs.รน

The sun was beating down of the pavement today, but it is so pretty here that it is all worthwhile because at every turn is another discovery: a winding lane leading up to a small stone house with flower boxes, or a small courtyard overlooking the Umbrian countryside. By 10:00 it was already a lively town and we followed the crowd to the Basilica of St. Francis. 

The Lower Basilica which has the tomb of St. Francis is a moving and memorable experience. People make an offering of a single white candle which is lit late in the day. Near the tomb many people sit in the chapel to pray while others file around it. Upon closer examination, there are tiny pictures of people of all ages in need of prayer which have been placed around the tomb. A young teenage girl sat in the corner fervently writing a prayer request which she carefully placed in the tomb as she knelt before it. On the altar before St. Francis, two young children knelt in prayer with looks of pure joy on their faces.

Upstairs in the Upper Basilica, the energy is high. A voice over the intercom pleads silenzio and no photos, but the silence lasts only for a moment, but the silence lasts only for a moment because people are so in awe of the frescoes painted by Giotto.

Another large church was the Basilica of St. Clare. As you tour the tomb, you can read the story of her life. She was a follower of St. Francis and like him, left a life of privilege for one of humble living and service to God. Her body is on view at the Basilica.

Surprisingly a cool breeze blew through town late in the day offering welcome relief from the heat. Dinner tonight was at Taverna Dei Consoli where we enjoyed chicken and rosemary, and homemade noodles with truffles. 

As cicadas chirped in the distance we took one final stroll around town to enjoy the view. Back at our hotel a fireworks show lit up the sky, a perfect way to end the day.


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