October 4, 2013: a “Field Day” in Assisi for Pope Francis
Calcio (soccer) is inextricably linked to Italian life – and to Pope Francis’ Assisi visit on October 4, 2013: the Papal helicopter touches down in a soccer field at 7 45 a.m and lifts off from another at 7 15 pm.
First stop? Istituto Serafico where over one hundred severely-handicapped children and adults eagerly await their second meeting with “il Papa”: in early June, they’d headed to Rome for a memorable private Papal audience.
Pope Francis distributed his “gifts” – warm smiles, caresses, benedictions – and his visitors returned the gifts: young Mattia gave him his sweatshirt, Fabio his T-shirt and Leonardo, his cap.
Istituto Serafico director, Francesca Di Maolo, gave the Pope a written invitation to visit while in Assisi for the early October Feast of St. Francis. His acceptance, exults Francesca, “riempie di gioia tutti noi” (“fills us all with joy”)
After the Serafico, Pope Francis heads to San Damiano- where the Crucifix is said to have spoken to San Francesco in 1204 – for a private encounter with the friars there.
Next stop: the bishop’s palace (il Vescovado) where another Francesco had renounced his earthly inheritance before the bishop, embracing a life of poverty – and here, Pope Francis will meet with the poor.
The Pope will celebrate Mass in Piazza San Francesco flanking the Basilica di San Francesco before lunch. A celebratory feast-day banquet with the friars in the Convento adjacent to the Basilica (the usual tradition for visiting cardinals on this day)?
Not exactly “stile-Papa-Francesco”: he’ll lunch with poor and homeless – both Italians and immigrants – in a shelter near the train station.
The afternoon includes stops at the Hermitage, 15th-c monastery on the slopes of Mt. Subasio, built over the caves where Francesco prayed and then on to the 12th- c Cathedral of San Rufino where St. Francis and St. Clare were both baptized. At the Basilica di Santa Chiara (where St. Clare is buried), he’ll pray with the cloistered Poor Clares.
In Santa Maria degli Angeli, a huge gathering of young people will greet him and four youth (the “chosen ones” must be excited!) will ask the Pope questions. The day closes with a visit to Rivotorto, another sacred Franciscan site.
And then his helicopter lifts off – from the adjacent soccer field. A “field day” – for Pope Francis and for the thousands joining him to celebrate la festa di San Francesco.
Read about Assisi’s celebration of Festa di San Francesco
Read more about the Papal visit to Assisi
See – and read about – the floral welcome for the Pope
Read about Assisi’s excitement when Pope Francis was elected
Assisi photos by Andrea Angelucci (www.angelucci.com):
Photo thanks to Istituto Serafico, Assisi: