On Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th October, the Franciscan community of St Saviour gathered together for the celebration of the solemnity of St Francis. Both presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, the solemn celebrations were streamed online on the social media pages of the Custody and on the pages of the Christian Media Center.
As per tradition, the first liturgy was held at Vespers on 3rd October which this year - as in 1226, fell on a Saturday. “Francis’s whole life is a sequel to that of Our Lord Jesus on which he modelled himself,” as Thomas of Celano suggests, “from the Word of God, from the meetings and the events of life, including the illnesses,” the Custos said in his commentary on the reading of the first Vespers. “Francis’s whole life was a continuous struggle not to be swallowed up by the mentality of the world and to learn to love his brothers until the end, that is, to the full and up to the giving his life, like Jesus. The whole of Francis’s life was a transit, that is a Paschal path, to arrive ready for the last moment and thus welcome death singing instead of with fear and desperation, looking towards Heaven with bright eyes.” During the celebration, the temporary professed friars renewed their vows for another year, just before the reading of the piece of the Transit directly from the Franciscan Sources, contained in the “Legenda Maior” by St Bonaventure (FF 1241 - 1242 - 1243).
On the morning of Sunday 4th October, the liturgy was that of the Solemn Mass at the Church of St Saviour. Once again, it was presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, who put at the centre the experience of fraternity of St Francis and his commitment to “repair” the House of the Lord going from the walls of a real Church to the renewal of the Church.
“Restoring the Church is not the dream of the naïve, but it is the vision of those who are inspired by God and feels that if Christ died to sanctify the Church his bride, we are called on to love it and repair it rather than to criticise and demolish it,” said Fr. Patton in his commentary on the Gospel. “If Christ on the cross shed his blood for the multitudes, that is, for the whole of humanity, we are called to do everything we can “ to attract everyone to his love” (Pater 5: FS 270) and favour everything that reconciles instead of dividing individuals, cultures and people. Francis’s call is ours.”
Amidst songs of joy, the Franciscans ended the morning celebration. The solemnity will come to an end with the Second Vespers on the afternoon of 4th October.