Mirrors For Eternity - The musical of St. Francis of Assisi
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Poster for Mirrors For Eternity about St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare

I. St. Francis and St. Clare
II. History of Assisi

I. St. Francis and St. Clare

St. Francis of Assisi, who lived poorly and humbly, is perhaps the most widely-known and universally-loved saint in history. What about this simple man has captivated the imaginations of persons of all generations?

  • Francis speaks to us of the importance of on-going conversion. He was a sensitive, caring, gentle man who became so like Christ as to bear in his body the wounds of Christ. Francis' process of growing more and more like Christ was not an easy or simple one. He had doubts, went through depression and became disillusioned with what was happening around him. Each of those experiences moved him toward, rather than away from, his beloved Jesus.
  • Francis was exuberant in praising God! What an example of enthusiasm (being "in-God")! He lived life to the fullest.
  • Francis teaches us about suffering and peacemaking.
  • Francis saw all of creation as good. Thus he had tremendous reverence for each person and all of creation.

City of Assisi, ItalyClare of Assisi, often referred to as "the first Franciscan woman," was "born in a feudal society as a woman of the aristocracy. Born in 1193, Clare's formation was well underway by the time Francis received oral approval of his Rule in 1209. On Palm Sunday, 1212, when Clare consecrated herself to God before Francis, Clare was around eighteen years of age. She had been formed by her mother in a household of women who prayed together and gave alms and food to the poor and hungry of Assisi. Clare felt "the Privilege of Poverty was worth talking about..."

Founder of the Order of the Poor Ladies (Poor Clares) at San Damiano in 1215, she "was the first woman to write a rule for religious women. The first women who joined Clare were the women who had lived with her in her father's house—" they were Clare's sisters, her mother, her relatives, and her neighbors. "Clare depended upon other women to help her as she helped them to learn how they could nurture the spirit of God within themselves." As leader of the Poor Ladies' community for 40 years, Clare succeeded in living the Franciscan ideal of life.
[Clare of Assisi — Ingrid Peterson, OSF]

Franciscans are simply persons who follow the way of St. Francis and St. Clare, and thus of Jesus and the Gospel. Franciscans live according to the Rule of St. Francis, a document based largely on Scripture. Most important for us today is bringing the spirit of St. Francis into the 21st Century. The essence of living our life is our relationship with Jesus Christ.

From the Franciscan Rule of Life:

  • the form of life of the Brothers and Sisters is this: to observe the Holy Gospel
  • they wish to live this Gospel conversion of life in the spirit of prayer, of poverty, and of humility
  • wherever they are, or in whatever situation they are, they should diligently and fervently show reverence and honor to one another. They should also foster unity and communion with all the members of the Franciscan family.
  • wherever they are or wherever they go throughout the world, they should not be quarrelsome, contentious, or judgmental towards others.
  • In greeting others, let them say, "God give you peace."
  • As they announce peace with their lips, let them be careful to have it even more within their own hearts.
  • Let the sisters and brothers always be mindful that they should desire one thing alone, namely, the Spirit of God at work within them.

Source: Rochester Franciscans

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II. History of Assisi

City of Assisi, ItalyAssisi is a town and episcopal see in Italy. It was the birthplace of St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order in 1208, and St. Clare (Chiara d'Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Clares.

Around 1000 B.C. a wave of immigrants settled in the upper Tiber valley as far as the Adriatic Sea and also in the neighborhood of Assisi. These were the Umbrians, living in small fortified settlements on high ground. The Romans took control of central Italy by 295 BC. Remains from these Roman times can still be found in Assisi : city walls, the forum (now Piazza del Comune), a theatre, an amphitheatre and the Temple of Minerva (now transformed into the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva).

The thriving city became an independent Ghibelline commune in the 11th century. Constantly struggling with the Guelph Perugia, it was during one of those battles, the battle at Ponte San Giovanni, that Giovanni di Bernardone, (Francis of Assisi), was taken prisoner, setting in motion the events that eventually led him to live as a beggar and renounce the world.

The city, which had remained within the confines of the Roman walls, began to expand outside these walls in the 13th century. In the beginning Assisi fell under the rule of Perugia and later under several despots, and the city went into a deep decline through the plague of the Black death in 1348.

In 1569 construction was started of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. During the renaissance and later centuries, the city continued to develop peacefully, attested by the 17th-century palaces of the Bernabei and Giacobetti.

Now the site of many a pilgrimage, Assisi is linked in legend with its native son, St.Francis. The gentle saint founded the Franciscan order and shares honors with St. Catherine of Siena as the patron saint of Italy. But he's remembered by many, even non-Christians, as a lover of nature (his preaching to an audience of birds is one of the legends of his life). St. Francis put Assisi on the map, and making a pilgrimage here.

Assisi was hit by the devastating twin earthquakes that shook Umbria in 1997, but the recovery and restoration have been remarkable, although much remains to be done. Massive damage was caused to many historical sites, but the major attraction, the Basilica di San Francesco, reopened less than two years later.

Source: Assisi, Wikipedia

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