S+L logo

Assisi: A place of living history

September 1, 2014
Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi
Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi
Perched on the side of a mountain in the central Italian province of Umbria is the historic town of Assisi, best known as the hometown of St. Francis, one of Christianity’s most revered saints.
I’ve spoken to many visitors to Assisi over the past few years – especially since Cardinal Bergoglio was elected pope and took the name of St. Francis – and they all seem to describe the little town in the same way: perfectly magical.
You can imagine my excitement and expectation then, when I discovered I would be living in Assisi for five weeks to study Italian at the Language Academy!  In my brief but fully immersed time here, I have experienced what many of those visitors preached.
Despite its compact layout, Assisi is home to seven major ecclesial sites including two basilicas dedicated to St. Francis and St. Clare, where their remains can be found for veneration.
Town of Assisi
Assisi, Italy
It is a hustling and bustling place; a mix of locals and tourists.  But this doesn’t seem to affect the quaint atmosphere.  The old stone buildings that make up the town, and the many narrow streets, stairways and shortcuts transport the visitor back to the 13th century when it first became a place of pilgrimage after Francis’ death.
This feeling of history, which is really a living history, makes Assisi one of those few places in the world where the past encounters the present and sparks the imagination.  Medieval history as we know it is often conceived from the perspective of those centers of the world that once composed ‘Christendom:’ Rome, Paris or Aachen or any number of places once dominated by the movers and shakers of that history.
Assisi is quite different, and yet is as historically significant.  It was never the center of major temporal power struggles or cultural battles.  It was, and is, a little town perched on the side of a mountain.  It is ‘off the beaten trail’ and ‘out of the way’ and all the more enticing for it.
It was only two years after Francis of Assisi died that he was declared a saint.  The foundations of the basilica built in his name that now dominates the Assisi skyline on the edge of the town were laid only a few decades later.  The countless pilgrims and visitors to Assisi over the centuries experienced what we experience: a small, charming town that is home to two of the most widely reverenced and highly respected individuals in Christian history.  It’s a place where your imagination can run free, as St. Francis’ did eight hundred years ago.
Related posts
The Slow Progress in the Growth of God’s Kingdom
FacebookTwitter
Read Fr. Thomas Rosica's reflection for the eleventh Sunday in ordinary time: The Slow Progress in the Growth of God’s Kingdom. ...read more
Mary was no stranger to the real world of suffering
FacebookTwitter
Read a homily for the memorial of the immaculate heart of Mary by Fr. Kevin Kirley, CSB: "Mary was no stranger to the real world of suffering." ...read more
The Kingdom requires of us to do God’s will
FacebookTwitter
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – June 10th, 2018 Today’s Gospel story of the unbelieving scribes from Jerusalem who attributed Jesus’ power over demons to Beelzebul (Mark 3:20-35) ...read more
Sharing the new life within us: A reflection on the Feast of the Visitation
FacebookTwitter
Read Fr. Thomas Rosica's Reflection to commemorate the Feast of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary: " Sharing the new life within us." ...read more
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – Sunday, June 3, 2018 Today’s Gospel [Mark 14.12-16,22-26] links Jesus’ death with Israel’s great feast of liberation, the Passover. ...read more