Friday, May 29, 2009

A wonderful discovery

So, yesterday as part of the General Chapter, we had an incredible celebration of Vespers at the Church of San Damiano, the great chapel where Jesus spoke to St. Francis from the cross, "Rebuild my church." (You can view the service here: www.youtube.com/escofm)

After the service, a few of us decided to walk back to Domus Pacis near Santa Maria degli Angeli in the valley below. Along the way, we made a wrong turn, but God always does such wonderful things with wrong turns.

Before we knew it, we were on our way to Rivo Torto, one of the early sites where Francis and his followers lived and worked. Now, believe it or not, in my many travels to Assisi there are still a few places I haven't been to or found. For example, one of the places that I want to go to while I'm here this month is the Church of San Stefano up in the old city. My interest in this church comes from a little note in one of the sources that says the bells of San Stefano were rung at the moment when Francis died. So, I'll get there perhaps over the weekend.

But, another of the places I've wanted to find is the Church of Santa Maria Madalena. I had read that this Church is one of the original sites where St. Francis minsitered to lepers outside of the city walls of Assisi.

Back to our wrong turn. I wasn't looking for Santa Maria Madalena yesterday, but I knew it was somewhere between the Portiuncula and Rivo Torto and as we walked and talked and laughed and took in the sites, suddenly I heard a simple church bell ringing in the country side. And there before us was this Church.

Now it is small and has Mass only once a month. To get in, you have to find the woman who lives near by and has the key. And here we were at the Church for the probably 15 minutes it was open that day and the woman was ringing the bell.

She welcomed us, "Benvenuti Frati!" she said with a smile. And she gave us the key telling us that when we were done, she lived next door on the first floor. We stayed and we prayed and we left walking the rest of the way to Domus Pacis with the joy of our great find!

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