13 Jan Bas relief of Saint Francisco receiving the Confirmation
The mountain of Alverne reveals an ideal of Francisco and his aspirations. The life of Francisco in Alverne is one of uninterrupted prayer of penitence. He felt himself to be poor and a sinner. He would return to mount Alverne often to find peace with God about his situation with the Franciscan Order and the fact that it was living in the middle of the human world, and he could not give himself, body and soul, to prayer.
In the summer of 1224, the last time that he was at Alverne, Francisco looked for a place even more “solitary and secret” where he could very privately observe the lent of Saint Michael the Archangel. With his Brother Leo , he looked for a long time until he found “a secret place well adapted to realize these intentions.” Then he called the Friars and told them: “Go back to the Hermitage and leave me here alone because, with God’s help, I intend here to do the Lent without any disturbance to the mind, so none of you can come and see, and there will be nothing secular here…”
On the morning of September 14, 1224, the heaven opened and the crucified Christ descended to Mount Alverne in the form of a seraph, and Francisco received the stigmata of Christ. He tried to keep the gift of the stigmata secret as much as he could. In reality, there were few people fortunate who might contemplate this event during his lifetime.
So there for 800 years, the Friars Minor of Tuscany, an Italian region located in the center of the peninsula, have jealously guarded the place where the poor Francisco of Assisi received “this last secrecy” from Christ. Over time, it has become a mecca for pilgrimages to the Franciscan sanctuaries.
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