Assisi and St Clare

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St Clare in the crypt

A brief detour from the Via Francigena, the 2000 km pilgrim path which joins Canterbury to Rome.

We had arrived in Assisi, the home of St Francis, Italy’s patron saint, and checked into St Anthony’s Guest House.

St. Anthony’s was well designed for pilgrims and travelers; a coffee machine, white and red wine in the fridge, a library, laundry and a large garden, often visited by melodious birds.

Over lunch we met Peter, a Marist Brother and a headmaster of a Catholic school in Brisbane, Australia. He had recently walked the Camino, the old pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostela in Spain and was resting here before traveling to Morocco.

That afternoon, we walked around this fascinating town and visited Chiesa Nuova and Santa Maria Maggiore. Then a walk to the Basilica di Santa Chiara (Basilica of St. Clare) constructed in 1257.

In 1212 with Clare of Assisi, Francis founded the Order of Poor Ladies later known as the Poor Clares. St. Clare was made the patron saint of Television in 1958 in recognition of her televisual powers. Once, while on her sickbed, she was able to see and hear Francis lead a Christmas service a mile away. Clare was such an important figure in Francis’ life, a twin soul perhaps. So it’s fitting that she is remembered so well in Assisi.

Her basilica is a huge building and has statues of her and St Francis. It also houses the Byzantine crucifix (Oratorio de Crocifisso) that had bowed its head and had spoken to Francis at St. Damiano. We climbed down to the crypt to view St. Clare’s body.

We returned to Piazza del Comun to explore the small shops for dinner ingredients. We bought some aromatic bread, prosciutto, cheese, tomatoes and a bottle of wine. Once our haul had been delivered back to the guest house’s garden, we whiled away the warm evening chatting.

Storms raged overnight. The wind blew rain in through our open window before I was able to close it. By morning the storms had passed, leaving a refreshing dampness over Assisi.

We were going to climb to the Eremo del Carceri today……

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