Peace and good
In 2023, the Franciscan Order began a series of celebrations to gratefully remember some very important events that occurred in the last four years of the life of Saint Francis. Last year we remember the approval, in 1223, of the Rule that he wrote for his brothers, as well as the celebration of Christmas in Greccio, a night in which he wanted to represent the birth of the Son of God in a manger.
In 2024 we commemorate the 800 years of a transcendental experience in the life of the poor of Assisi: the gift of the stigmata. Saint Francis, from the beginning of his conversion until his death, manifested great devotion to the poor, Crucified and glorious Christ, who he saw clearly represented in the icon of Christ of San Damiano, which would always be linked to his evangelical experience and spiritual adventure. . Hence, at all times his great passion will be to preach, with words and deeds, the Crucified One.
In the year 1224, Francis, eager to celebrate the novena of Saint Michael the Archangel, went with three brothers to Mount Alverna, a place that a benefactor provided him to retreat in silence and prayer. It is there, in mid-September, that Francis saw a six-winged seraph descend from heaven that had the shape of a crucified man. He remained absorbed, without understanding anything, wrapped in the kind gaze of that being, which made him feel both happy and sad. Wrapped in that mystery, he receives the gift of the stigmata on his body to have, like Christ himself, wounds on his hands, feet and side.
This event wonderfully marked the last stretch of Saint Francis’ life, as it was the answer to his most intimate wish, cherished for many years: “O my Lord Jesus Christ, I ask you to grant me before I die to feel in my soul and in my body, as far as possible, the pain that you, sweet Jesus, endured in the hour of your terrible passion.” He becomes “another Christ,” and thus his life is confirmed as authentically evangelical.
As we celebrate this eighth centenary of the stigmatization of Saint Francis we are invited to renew our Christian vocation so that we manifest with clear signs the presence of God in our lives for the good of others.
We are grateful that you have with you today this calendar through which, accompanied by the figure of Saint Francis and through the photographs of the Brothers in their different Fraternities, we want to approach you to share this year that God has given us.
We entrust ourselves to your prayer, keeping you present in ours.
Blessings from your Capuchin Minor Brothers.
Peace and good.