In a past note on the Assisi’s October 4th festivities for the Feast of St. Francis, I started by summing up Francesco’s top ranking for all of the Italians. This is what I wrote:
***”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.”
The year I wrote that note, the region of Lombardy had brought the oil which will burn all year in front of the Tomb of St. Francis in the Basilica di San Francesco. Each year, one of the twenty regions of Italy brings the olio sacro: this year, Tuscany’s turn.
As always, the October 4th festivities started in the morning with la processione to the Basilica. Excitement mounted as the Assisi trumpeters in medieval garb of red and blue (the colors of nobility – and of the Assisi flag) blared out our Assisi hymn, the announcement of la festa, in front of Assisi’s 14th-century city hall, Palazzo dei Priori .
The banners of the regions of both Umbria and of Tuscany tailed the trumpeters and then the banners of Florence and Assisi.
Banners of many of the Tuscan towns followed, proudly flanked either by local policemen………
….or just by simple citizens, proud to be here as the representative of their comune:
….and then I saw Ermanno and Domenico in the dress of Assisi nobility accompanying their dame to the door of City Hall.
Other couples in the medieval dress of our Calendimaggio festival in May joined them: a sign that the start of la processione to the Basilica di San Francesco was imminent.
At 9 a.m., the bells in Assisi’s campanile tolled solemnly, the Palazzo dei Priori doors opened and the mayors of Assisi and Florence came down the steps, followed by many mayors of Tuscan towns, all in their red, green and white sashes.
They all applauded Assisi’s children, joining in the festivities in honor of their San Francesco: emotions ran high for the young drummers and young medieval banner-wavers.
…..and then school children of all ages joined the procession, carrying placards urging “pace” (“peace”), “dialogo,” respect for Nature (San Francesco is also the patron saint of ecology), and awareness of climate change.
The noble banners of the two parti of Assisi – blue for Sopra (“Upper”) and red for Sotto (“Lower”) – followed the little ones, preceding the mayors.
….and the banner of Assisi – red and blue, noble colors – with mayors behind, closed the procession. Carabinieri – in the uniforms worn for solemn events, honoring respected personages – flanked the Assisi flag.
Separation of Church and State in Italy?
Click here to read about Pope Francis’ participation in the Oct 4th festivities in honor of San Francesco
Read about Assisi’s floral tapestry welcome for Pope Francis
Click here to read about – and see! – the afternoon October 4th events