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Faithful Gather in Assisi to Celebrate St. Francis of Assisi and Commemorate 800th Anniversary
Today, the faithful congregated at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, to honor the beloved Italian saint and commemorate the 800th anniversary of the approval of the Rule of St. Francis in 1223. This significant occasion also marked the celebration of the creation of the Nativity scene in Greccio.
The event, graced by the presence of religious figures, representatives of the Italian government, civil and military authorities, and pilgrims from the Aosta Valley, was warmly welcomed by Friar Marco Moroni, OFM, who addressed the gathering. He conveyed a message from Pope Francis, extending the Holy Father's warm regards to those assembled in Assisi and requesting their prayers.
In his message, Pope Francis stated, "I send warm greetings to you and to the gathered friars and to the faithful and administrators of the Aosta Valley gathered in Assisi. I pray for you; please do it for me. May the Lord bless you and may Our Lady keep you." This message of unity and prayer encapsulates the spirit of the celebration.
Friar Marco Moroni also took the opportunity to reminisce about Pope Francis's inaugural visit to Assisi in 2013, shortly after his election as pope. Moroni noted that since that memorable day, the world has undergone substantial changes on social, economic, political, and ecclesial fronts. He remarked, "We are going through a change of epoch on a social, economic, political, and ecclesial level: We see signs of positive novelties, but also the persistence and perhaps the increase of so many issues." These issues include conflicts, violence, self-interest, and a shift in societal values.
Moroni invoked St. Francis of Assisi to intercede in these transformative times and guide humanity toward a more harmonious and compassionate existence. He urged that, amidst these changes, we embrace "the gift of a good and beautiful life, of a capacity for friendship and sharing, of a great love for humanity."
Minister General Friar Carlos Alberto Trovarelli, in his welcoming speech, emphasized the significance of St. Francis not only as a holy figure but also as a guide for those striving to create a new world, characterized by justice, fraternity, and respect for human dignity and freedom. He referred to Assisi as the "city of peace, fraternity, and social friendship," echoing Pope Francis's teachings and called for peace to emanate from the heart of Assisi, spreading to every corner of the nation.
Trovarelli regarded the 800th anniversaries being celebrated as an opportunity to rediscover the spiritual and cultural legacy that St. Francis of Assisi left for Italy and the world. He expressed hope that the saint's universal message of fraternity and peace would continue to shine in the Church and the world, contributing to the growth of a civilization of love even in contemporary times.
The commemoration of St. Francis of Assisi, the Rule of St. Francis, and the Nativity scene in Greccio serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring legacy of this beloved saint and the enduring values he espoused, encouraging us all to embrace the ideals of peace, fraternity, and love for humanity.
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