Anne's Blog

Assisi’s Feast of St. Francis: Italy Unites!

Date: October 5, 2016 - categories: , , - 7 Comments

Many Italians consider goalie Gigi Buffon as Italy’s greatest soccer player. But he’s only “Numero Due” in any case, in the ranks of most beloved Italians.

Who’s Numero Uno in this country? No doubt about it. Not to be debated. Francisco di Assisi.

Not the patron saint of Assisi but the patron saint of all Italy, his feast day is celebrated on October 4th (the day after his death, Oct 3, 1226 – as he died at day’s end). In many ways, Italy is still a collection of medieval city-states, lacking a strong nationalistic sense. But all unite to honor the nation’s beloved San Francesco on his day.

Each year, one of twenty regions of Italy brings the oil which will burn in front of his tomb. This year? Piedmont – and the mayor of Turin joined the mayor of Assisi to lead the procession to his Tomb in the Basilica di San Francesco, Assisi’s trumpeters in medieval garb blaring out the festival’s start on the steps of our elegant 14th-century city hall.





With the mayor of Turin, Chiara Appendino


Chiara, mayor of Turin with Stefania, mayor of Assisi


Chiara, mayor of Turin in front of her city’s banner


Our medieval city hall, draped with festive banners for the Feast of St. Francis

The medieval children’s drum corps of Assisi in elegant red medieval tunics – with scarves of the Assisi colors, blue and red – proudly beat out their greeting to San Francesco. The children’s medieval banner-wavers swished and swooped colorful banners as their greeting to visitors.

..and then, for the first time ever, all the Assisi school children joined the procession, the older ones holding high the olive branches of peace intertwined with blue and red ribbons.



The younger children followed, proudly holding high their artwork, colorful cutouts of all the elements of San Francesco “Canticle of the Creatures,” first poem in the Italian vulgate (1225 – 1226).

Brother Sun led off, “beautiful and radiant with great splendor”…..



…….and then Sister Moon and the stars, “in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful”….



..and following, “Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather”



….and next, “Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste”



…and right behind, Brother Fire, “beautiful and playful and robust and strong”….



Last of all, “Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs….”



And after the children’s Canticle representation, another “first” for this Festa di San Francesco: two women mayors led the procession to the Tomba di San Francesco, following the regal royal blue and red banner of Assisi, flanked by our policemen.




Right behind Assisi’s mayor, Stefania, and Turin’s mayor, Chiara, mayors of Piedmontese towns in red, green and white sashes walked in front of their elegant, richly-embroidered city banners, proudly born by local policemen. Friars and sisters followed and then the populace joined the procession to the Tomb of St. Francis. All united in honoring their patron saint, San Francesco – and all feeling for a day – at least – italiani.





Read about the Canticle of the Creatures here
Read more on this memorable day
Read about a memorable Oct 4th – with Pope Francis here!
Read more about a most special Feast of St. Francis
Read about the floral welcome in Assisi for Pope Francis
Click here to read about the Oct 5th Fiera di San Francesco
Click here to read about Assisi’s excitement over the election of Pope Francis
Click here to read about Assisi’s other wondrous festival, Calendimaggio
Read about Calendimaggio preparations, usually with Gina…


  • Louise says:

    Great coverage and photos. Loved the words of St. Francesco. Grazie

  • Ann says:

    Beautiful photos and descriptions. Wish we could have been there!

  • Nancy Mazza says:

    Another great article, Anne! Nobody does pomp and circumstance quite like the Italians! I love the two women mayors. And I love all the school children’s faces. Great photos. Glad I got to visit Assisi so recently.

  • Dear Anne,

    I have added a link to this story on the Canterbury Franciscan blog, Agnellus Mirror. Many thanks for these pictures; they illustrate a post from one of our writers who has just led a pilgrimage to Assisi.

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Grateful for the notes above and hope you can each come to Assisi one day for Oct 4th!

  • Janet Eidem says:

    We usually planned our trips home to Assisi to include Oct. 4th. The children are a joy to see. San Francesco was surely pleased!

  • …and when are you two coming back!?!

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Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)