With the Holy Father in Assisi

Hello and welcome!

As I left off last week, I was beginning to relate some of my experiences meeting with the Holy Father, and the group of cardinals advising him, in Rome.

Now that I have returned and have a bit more time, I’d like to share with you some more details of my visit, particularly accompanying the Holy Father on his visit to Assisi.

At the beginning of my week in Rome, I was invited to the Generalate of the Jesuits and had lunch with the Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás.Ital_20130928_1351480_1

He showed me the new chapel there designed by the noted Jesuit artist Father Marko Rupnik and the famous statue of Saint Ignatius, depicting the scene where he is telling the Jesuits to go set the world on fire. Ital_20130928_140530nItal_20130928_14124398

I thought it was ironic that they keep a big fire extinguisher right next to it!Ital_20130928_14125687

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On Monday, I joined the other Cardinals in the consistory where the Holy Father proclaimed that blessed John XXIII and blessed Pope John Paul II are to be canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday of next year.Ital_20131001_221408v_1Ital_20130930_09521454

The following day we began our meetings with the Holy Father.POPE-CARDINALS

The first meetings were in the library of the Apostolic Palace, but the rest were held in the Domus Santa Marta. The Holy Father attended all the meetings. He only absented himself to go to the Wednesday General Audience.

It was very interesting experience because the Cardinals in the advisory group really do come from every continent, so you have quite a convergence of ideas and experiences of the Church. The lingua franca, if you will, was Italian, all the meetings were conducted in Italian.

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On Friday, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, we went in military helicopters from Vatican City to Assisi. It was about a 40 minute flight, and we arrived in Assisi, the first place we went to was the Instituto Serafico, where the Holy Father met with about 100 disabled children, their caretakers and families.Ital_20131004_072919pPOPE-ASSISI

The Holy Father greeted each child, blessed them and kissed them. POPE-ASSISI POPE-ASSISI POPE-ASSISI

He then gave a very wonderful talk, in which he compared the children to the wounds on Jesus’s body. POPE-ASSISI POPE-ASSISI

He said when the resurrected Christ came back, all of the bruises and scars were gone but the wounds of the crucifixion on his hands, feet and side were still there, and he took those wounds to heaven. He said the children are the wounds of Jesus, and if we worship Jesus present in them, then we will someday be able to worship the wounds of Christ that are now in heaven.

Then we went to San Damiano. The Friars met him there, and we prayed with them. SDaminano002

During the visit, the Holy Father gave a brief talk on Lady Poverty. He reminded the Friars they are supposed to be married to Lady Poverty and to be unfaithful is adultery to their commitment to poverty.

Next, we went to the Vescovado, which is the old bishops palace, the place where St. Francis was tried before the bishop and returned his clothes back to his father. There, Holy Father addressed people from the different Caritas programs. SDaminano001

From there, we went to Santa Maria Maggiore, which is the Capuchin church in Assisi. In fact, we did not have a church there until a few years ago, when the bishop gave the church to us. Our general, Father Mauro Johri, and a group of Capuchins greeted the Holy Father there.

Santa Maria Maggiore was the original Cathedral of Assisi and is where St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized, though the baptismal font has since been moved to San Rufino, the new Cathedral.Majore004

Then we went to the Basilica Superiore di San Francesco. There we were greeted by the Conventual Friars and by Prime Minister Enrico Letta.Ital_20131004_101335xItal_20131004_101543iPOPE-ASSISI Ital_20131004_101639tItal_20131004_101940yItal_20131004_103422r

The Holy Father celebrated Mass in the main piazza of the Basilica.POPE-ASSISI POPE-ASSISI POPE-ASSISI POPE-ASSISI

At the end of Mass, as they do every year on the Feast, they blessed the oil that is burned in the lamp before the tomb of St. Francis, the Patron Saint of Italy. So, there were a number of elected officials from the different townships and cities in Umbria present.

Following lunch, we went to the Hermitage of the Carceri. They are called that because the cells are so tiny. The Holy Father went there to pray. The original Carceri was built by Saint Bernadino.Carceri006Ital_20131004_143335cPOPE-ASSISI Ital_20131004_143639photoItal_20131004_143957qPOPE-ASSISI POPE-ASSISI POPE-ASSISI

From there we went to the Cathedral of San Rufino, where the Holy Father addressed those involved in the diocesan synod.SRufino007

Ital_20131004_152035bItal_20131004_152153wItal_20131004_153439jItal_20131004_160725kAt the Basilica of Santa Chiara, he went to pray before the tomb of St. Clare as well as before the original San Damiano Crucifix.Ital_20131004_162018hItal_20131004_162056gItal_20131004_165006sItal_20131004_163221fItal_20131004_164836lItal_20131004_164850d

Then, in the afternoon, we went to the Basilica of the Santa Maria degli Angeli of the Portiuncula where there were thousands of young people gathered in the plaza. The Holy Father addressed them and answered their questions.POPE-ASSISI POPE-ASSISI

He visited the Portiuncula, where St. Francis established the order, which is contained within the basilica.

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After the rally with the youth at the Portiuncula, we traveled to Rivotorto, which are the little cottages where Francis and the first Friars stayed.Rivotorto012

Our time in Assisi was very moving, particularly in the visit with the children, and everywhere we went the crowds were just enormous. It was a very beautiful way to end our time with the Holy Father.Ital_20131004_1819452

Certainly, the visit was a demonstration of the Holy Father’s love for St. Francis and for the themes of St. Francis’s life, which were of course life for Christ crucified, the poor, and for being an instrument of peace and reconciliation. Many of these themes appear in the talks that the Holy Father gave throughout the day.

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Before I conclude, I want to make mention of a few other items.

I was sorry I was not able to be present for the celebration of the Sisters of St. Joseph’s 140th anniversary celebration. So many of our Catholics here have been taught by the sisters and have great affection for them.CSJ20131006_152147CSJ20131006_152330CSJ20131006_152530CSJ20131006_153037CSJ20131006_153939CSJ20131006_155152CSJ20131006_161731

The sisters, in 140 years, have made such a vital contribution to the life of the archdiocese. It was a very important event and I was happy to hear how well it went.

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This month is also Respect Life Month, and we are calling on Catholics in the archdiocese and throughout the country to participate in the events that take place this month.

I am happy to share with you this video that we prepared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We call on people to continue their prayers and sacrifices on behalf of the Gospel of Life.


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Finally, I want to conclude this week asking everyone to pray for the Holy Father, who faces many challenges in this moment in the life of the Church. He is always asking for prayers, and so I want to echo that request.POPE-ASSISI

He feels it is important that the Catholics of the world be united with him in prayer so that the Holy Spirit will guide him on the path that will bring healing and peace to our Church and to bring energy to the task of the new evangelization.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

16 thoughts on “With the Holy Father in Assisi”

  1. Thank you, Cardinal Sean, for sharing. I read your blog every week.

    Looking at these photos from Assisi brought back wonderful memories. Italy is a beautiful country steeped in culture and traditions. Their Churches, especially St Peter’s Basilica in Rome,
    are out of this world. Nothing compares. And of course Italy has produced the most Saints over the centuries. Must be something in the air and in the water as well.

  2. Hello Mr. Cardinal Sean, I am freshmen also in the class of 2017 at BC High. My name is Chance Coughlin and I have read your blog and you have some great pictures and events here that are shown! I am very interested inn the catholic religion and i have seen and learned a lot not just on this blog but on this website. Thank you for reading this comment.

  3. So many places to visit , so little time.

    This is the most informative sharing and the pictures taken and presented here makes me feel as if I traveled with Cardinal Sean. It is what every Catholic who never been to Rome would like more to see and read here.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. This has been a very nice presentation. However, I just want to know one thing. The church today is made up of many more groups and usages from what existed since the sixties and I think all of them have a place in the church if they are faithful to the basic teachings of the church on dogma and morals. I just want to know if he cares about the Fraternity of Saint Peter which says the extraordinary form of the Mass. We are not connected with the sspx or any sede groups but participate and support our local dioceses and work with other parishes in a friendly way. The eastern rites enjoy all their lovely traditions and we are happy with ours and have a growing parish in Littleton, CO. I love our parish. Will we still be able to continue operating with our new pope? Will he give us the chance to prove that we love the church and want to work in harmony with him and we are not connected in any way to kooky groups that cause unrest. God bless.

  5. Dear Cardinal – Thank you for sharing your experience so thoughtfully. The pictures are wonderful. Indeed, I will pray for our Holy Father.

  6. Your Grace,
    Thank you for such an interesting account of your trip to Assisi. I admire your technical skills in creating this blog. The Holy Spirit continues to inspire and guide His church in gathering back His many lost sheep.
    Please keep me in your mailing list. Please tell the Pope when you meet him that he is always in my prayers and all priests.

  7. The Catholic Church is truly fortunate to have Pope Francis as the head of the Church in this difficult time in history. Given the physical attacks on clergy and lay persons alike around the world we need to focus on the ‘more pedestrian’ aspects of our spirituality as the Pope has done for so long now. He is clearly a modest man who has great leadership abilities.
    Despite the positive aspect of this new beginning, it is clear that we suffer from the sin of pride to a greater degree than we have over the last 50-60 years. Clerical involvement in politics is distressing at best and certainly counterproductive to the role of the Church. It manifests itself in a number of ways. The most recent example is that of individuals who are quite involved in the local parish yet post signs showing their support for pro-abortion political candidates. Calls to the pastor at the local parish are not returned. The Catholic Church should not be a social work organization, it should fulfill the spiritual and charitable needs of all Catholics. The ‘Clericalism’ we see of late is utterly inappropriate due to the accompanying involvement in politics. Maybe it is time for a change to ensure that local Church leaders focus on the mission of Christ rather than their own personal interest.

  8. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Peace in Jesus and Mary
    I am a Franciscan Brother I entered the Order 26 years ago. I work in our parish and Shrine, here in northwest Sydney, Austrlia.
    I seek to be faithful to the Church and serves God’s People with fidelity but with mercy and compassion. Recently though the Holy Fathers comments from his interveiws have caused a lot of confusion amongst the people. I try my best to intepret them according to the Faith but it can be so difficult. Please can the Holy Father be advised to be more prudent and to be aware of the moral dangers of the culture of death here in the west.
    I mean no disrespect, but i know also a lot of other priests and religious who work in the trenches feel the same way. Thank you . Please let the Holy Father know that people dont want the Liturgy dummed down but only reforms to help bring back reverence and the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. We love the Holy Father and we pray for him but we need the faith to be taught clearly in this age of confusion . God bless You-br louis

  9. Pace e Bene ,
    il mio primo pensiero entrando nel suo blog Padre Sean è stato :
    le parole del Santo Padre Francesco sul Crocifisso .
    Parole che dovrebbero toccare ogni anima nel Contemplare Gesù Crocifisso , Gesù sofferente sul Santo Albero della Croce , Gesù e solo Gesù carico dei nostri miseri peccati .
    La mia conversione è avvenuta nella Chiesa di Santa Maria di Gesù di Ferla in Provincia e Diocesi di Siracusa , ai piedi del Serafico Crocifisso di Fra Umile da Petralia , dove il misticismo è reso reale da Gesù inchiodato , sofferente per il bene delle anime :
    ” Consumatum est ” ” è compiuto ” .
    Solo e solo Gesù sapeva il tempo e il luogo della mia rinascita a vita nuova , perché come ha detto il Santo Padre , elevando un pensiero al Santo Patibolo e confermando l’Obbedienza di Croce : Questo Crocifisso è vivo .

    Francesco di Santa Maria di Gesù
    Terziario Francescano

  10. Dear Cardinal Séan,
    We are Brazilians, now living in the US, as I am seeking for my future theological studies over here (hopefully in Boston). After reading this nice post, I encouraged myself to share on your blog that my family was also in Rome and Assisi while you were there.
    It was a real blessing for us to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary on the fourth of October, in Assisi. And we were even gladder for having seen you “vicino” to Pope Francis in very different moments. I was always telling my wife and little daughter: “That one is Cardinal Séan!”.
    Although we still don’t live in Boston, I weekly follow The Pilot and your blog, and I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to thank you for being the good pastor you are to the Church of Boston and of the whole world, mainly with your example.
    In Christ and Francis,
    Klaus, Patricia and Luiza.

  11. Thank you for the elaborate account on the activities with the Holy Father. The spirit of St Francis must really embrace the world, we need PEACE now.

  12. Cardinal Seán, thank you for sharing your journey. The images and words are beautiful. I am inspired in my prayer and my desire to evangelize. May Christ bless you and keep you.

Comments are closed.

October 2013