St. Francis Would Rail at the Assisi of Today
High on a hill is the town of Assisi, home of Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, born in 1181, later known as Saint Francis, “San Francesco d’Assisi“. But Francesco, one who relinquished all his worldly goods for a life of poverty and simplicity, would rail at the Assisi of today, the streets of which are lined with shops selling tourist and religious kitsch.
As part of a trip to Umbria, and as one who attended St. Francis of Assisi grade school and church (in Burien, Washington), Assisi was a “must see” for me. I simply had to look past the kitsch.
Lesson number one: “Assisi” is not pronounced “A-SIssy”, but is rather “Ah-SEE-zee”. It’s an Italian pronunciation thing.
Yes. Go to Assisi. See the beautiful and historic 13th century Basilica of San Francesco and the Basilica of Santa Chiara (St. Clare). Sit in front of the tomb of Francesco with whatever sense of mystery fills your life. Go inward and marvel for a moment. Also relish the lavish decoration of both basilicas (photos were not allowed) and allow it all to inspire you. Some of our world’s great artists lent their vision and talent to the imagery we see there today!
Assisi is a contrast between the devout and the opportunistic, but… with 4 to 5 million visitors a year, can we blame them for responding to the needs and wishes of the throngs?