On October 4th, a floral tapestry depicting San Francesco and the dove of peace carpeted the piazza at the entrance to the lower level of the Basilica di San Francesco.
The floral masterpiece was a gift from Tuscany, the region of Italy bringing the oil this year which will burn all year in front of the Tomb of San Francesco, inside the Lower Basilica.
A poster in front of the infiorata indicated the tapestry as the work of those living in Fucecchio, a small town west of Florence.
The early morning procession to the Tomb of St. Francis in the Basilica from Assisi’s main piazza had been just the start of a full-day of festivities on October 4th, Festa di San Francesco.
In late afternoon, events concluded with a short procession from the Basilica Inferiore (“Lower Basilica”) to the Basilica Superiore (“Upper Basilica”).
Assisi’s trumpeters in medieval dress of Assisi’s colors, red and blue, awaited in anticipation to announce the exit of the Archbishop of Siena – representing Tuscany – from the Basilica Inferiore.
…and then they raised their trumpets, proudly blaring out with gusto the Assisi hymn, announcing the exit from the Lower Basilica of a sacred relic.
The Archbishop of Siena exited, solemnly raising aloft the treasured chartula – bearing the blessing written by Francesco for his beloved follower, Brother Leo – the banners of Siena and other Tuscan towns following.
The mayor of Assisi, Stefania Proietti and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi DiMaio joined in the procession to the Upper Basilica. (Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, had participated in the morning procession). State and Church uniting to honor San Francesco di Assisi, patron Saint of Italy….
In front of the Upper Basilica, local Assisi policemen flanked the red and blue Assisi banner.
They stood just beneath the 15th-century loggia from which the Archbishop would hold up the chartula and bless all gathered below in front of the Upper Basilica.
After the benedizione di San Francesco, Franciscan friars distributed the olive branches – sign of peace – blessed by the Archbishop to those gathered in the Basilica Superiore as well as to those outside.
At the request of a couple visiting Assisi with their young son, a Franciscan priest blessed them all as they were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary on this day, October 4th.
I wonder if they’ll return next year on October 4th for another anniversary blessing – and for those blessed olive branches.
Many of those present certainly will. National leaders, too.
Click here to read about the bellissima morning procession on October 4th in Assisi.
Read about Pope Francis’ visit to Assisi for the Feast of St. Francis
Click here to see the floral tapestry greeting Pope Francis