Lately there have been many occasions for sharing among the three families (Conventuals, Observants, and Capuchins) of the Franciscan Order. Led by their re-elected Minister General, Fr. Michael Perry, O.F.M. the friars participating at the General Chapter held at St. Mary of the Angel celebrated Solemn Evening Prayer at the Tomb of St. Francis in the Basilica in Assisi, June 3, 2015.  
Presided by the Custos of the Sacred Convent, Fr. Mauro Gambetti, O.F.M.Conv., Evening Prayer was celebrated in various language underlining the fact that the delegates were from many parts of the world.  
Fr. Mauro in his reflection exhorted all "to recognize the value of the other as a gift by opening myself to see the other's different beauty".
Leaving behind the historical differences of the past in a spirit of peace and pardoning is the hope of future collaboration and sharing.
The Chronicle of the O.F.M.General Chapter published each day described the celebration in this way:
"Having completed the work in the hall the friars set off for one of the most anticipated liturgical and social moments of the General Chapter. The destination was the Sacro Convento (the monumental Friary of the OFM Conventual friars attached to the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi). Vespers was celebrated around the tomb of St. Francis and the presider was the Custos, Br. Mauro Gambetti OFMConv, who spoke about the essential features of the Franciscan vocation. Starting with passages from the Testament of St. Francis, he invited the friars (OFMs and OFMConvs) to journey together as Franciscan Brothers, in Assisi and throughout the world – never seeking to be the first, but content to be the least. United we can put all we are and all we have at the service of the world.
The shared meal was a sign of the true fraternity and shared journey which we hope to see more and more of in the future."

Fr. Mauro's reflection in available in PDF format in Italian as is a video of the Solemn Evening Prayer:

Photos by Mauro Berti. First Photo: Fr. Micheal Perrty, O.FM.

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About a year from the first meeting, there was a second Day of Jewish-Franciscan Dialogue at the Sacred Convent Tuesday June, 2015, jointly organized by the International Franciscan Center for Dialogue in Assisi of the Conventual Franciscan Friars and the Association of Jewish-Christian Friendship of Livorno.  
In the beautiful setting m of the Cloister of Sixtus IV, on a bright sunny day, representatives of Judaism and Franciscanism met to exchange the significance of expressions of peace: Shalom and Pax et Bonum.  (Pax et Bonum  is the Latin which in Italian is rendered Pace e Bene and litterally in English is: Peace and Good.)

The journalist and writer, Roberto Olla moderated the meeting giving the organizers the first word.  The Custos of the Sacred Convento, fr Mauro Gambetti, in welcoming all recalled that to this greeting of peace should always be attached the word, "brother or sister" that "underlines the relationship that we have under God."
Dr. Guido Guastalla brought the greetings of the  Jewish community of Livorno of which he is vice-president, while Dr. Vittorio Robiati Bendaud, of the Association of Jewish-Christian Friendship underlined the journey Judeo-Chistian diologue and the biblical writings of peace. Great strides has been made in dialogue by the two communities after the Second Vatican Council while presently there is an increase of conflict in the world . Fr. Silvestro Bejan, Director of CEFID, underlined the Franciscan contribution to the dialogue.

Russian saxophonist Dimitri Grechi Espinosa played in the pause between the two presenters. Dr. Yarona Pinhas, writer and researcher of Mysticism and Jewish Art, explained the various meanings of the term shalom in Judaism, whose roots are present in many expressions, e.g. the name of the City of Peace, Jerusalem. King Salomon, built the temple once peace and prosperity were assured to its people. She also explained that Shalom is also one of the names of God. It is therefore much more than a simple greeting , but it underlines the whole movement of conciliation among opposites, the necessity of working for peace. For as a great Rabbi said: "There is nothing worse than a broken heart ... one not at peace!"

The two imposing towers that sustain the apse of the Basilica, the setting of the conference, gave Conventual Franciscan Friar Fr. Andrea Vaona, Professor of Church History at the Theological Faculty of Triveneto, the opportunity to recall for all that peace and goodness are the two sustaining pillars of the Christian Life for Francis of Assisi, both sustained by the Word and the Sacred Scriptures. As a historian he had to clear the greeting of its many myths. The greeting was not typically used by St. Francis even reflects his spirit. In his writings Francis uses the word, peace (pace), 13 times and the goodness (bene)l 51 times. The combining of the two terms into this greeting, fr Andea explains in ain an article in the Rivista of St. Francis (the Magazine of the Basilica published monthy in Italian), it began to be use by the friars in the 15th century.

The real greeting of St. Francis is instead: "May the Lord give you peace!" (Testament). It is significant that both speakers today mentioned the Blessing of Aaron (Num. 6:22-27) and that even today it is used to bless the people and that Francis used it to bless Brother Leo, his faithful companion, as the Parchment testifies which is preserved in the Chapel of the Relics of the Basilica.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you,
May he show you his face and have mercy on you.
May he turn his gaze (face) to you and give you peace."

Peace and good, are gifts of God and same God, to whom St. Francis prays in the Praises of the Most High God when he says: "You are the Good, every Good, the greatest Good."




From Saturday May 30 to Tuesday June 2, 2015 because of the  great influx of visitors foreseen during the long holiday weekend celebrating the Birth of the Italian Republic, celebrated on June 2 each year and commemorating the referendum held in 1946, in which the Italian people voted to form a Republic. 

Because of the great number of people visiting the Basilica on these day guided group visits will be suspended. 

However visitors may visit the Basilica by following indications of the Basilica personnel by entering the Basilica from the Lower Square or Plaza. Once in the Lower Church one may visit the Tomb of St. Francis and proceed on to the Cloister of Sixus IV where the Basilica Museum and Gift Shop are located. From here the staircases give access to the Upper Church and  the frescos of Giotto. During this long holiday weekend entrance to Upper Church is not allowed; entrace to the Upper Basiclica only allowed through and from the Lower Basilica.  Persons with handicaps however will be given access to the Upper Church and may enter the Basilica using that entrance.

Visits to the Basilicas from Saturday May 30, Monday June 1 and Tuesday June 2 will be according to the following schedule.

Lower Church may be visited from 8:00AM to 5:30PM. No visits are allowed from 5:30PM to the closing of the Lower after the Eucharist Liturgy (Mass in Italian) in the Lower Church beginning at 6:00PM.

Upper Church may be visited from 8:30AM to 5:30PM with access from the Lower Church.

From 6:45PM to its closing visitors may access the Upper Church directly through the entrance of the Upper Basilica.

Tomb and Crypt Church is open from 6:00AM to 8:00AM and from 10:00AM to 6:45PM. (From 8:00AM to 10:00AM the Tomb/Crypt Church is reserved for Eucharistic Celebrations by the pilgrim groups who have reserved the Chapel.)

Mass Schedule:

All Masses will be celebrated in the Lower Church according to the following schedule:

  • Main Altar: 7:15AM

  • St. Catherine Chapel: 9:00Am and 11:AM

  • Pilgrims' Mass at Main Altar: 6:00PM

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Visits to the Lower Church are allowed from 10:15AM to 4:30PM.

When Masses are schedule only those participating at a Sunday Mass may enter.

However the Tomb/Crypt Church may be visited even during these hours.

Visits to the Upper Church: only from 1:15PM to 6:45PM

Visits to the Tomb/Crypt Church from 6:00AM to 6:45PM

Mass Schedule for Sunday:

Lower Church at Main Altar:

  • 7:30AM: in Italian

  • 9:00AM: in English

  • 5:00PM: in Italian

  • 6:30PM: in Italian

Upper Church:

  • 9:00AM: in Italian

  • 10:30AM: Solemn celebration in Italian

  • 12:00Noon: in Italian



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