Daniela and Paola sipped cappuccini dreamily in “Papal euphoria” the day after Pope Francis’ visit to Assisi on October 4th. Sitting at a table near mine in an Assisi cafe, we soon formed a common ‘Papagirl’ bond. This Papa Francesco’s magnetism overpowers – and there’s not much you can do about it.
From the time the helicopter set down at 7:27 near the institute for the disabled, indefatigable Papa Francesco captured the assisani – and not only. Security was at maximum level yet this Pope was out front for everyone, blessing babies, caressing severely-disabled in wheelchairs, hugging the elderly, and throwing out a grin and joke now and then, “What, you want to photograph this face?”
After morning stops at Assisi’s Franciscan sites, and Mass in front of the Basilica di San Francesco, the Pope lunched at the shelter for the poor and homeless. Next stop, up to Mt. Subasio to the Hermitage, the 15th- c monastery built over the caves where Francesco withdrew in prayer.
On his way down the mountain, the Pope accepted a bouquet of flowers from a young man in a wheelchair – and then on to the Cathedral of San Rufino down a narrow alleyway, his vehicle at a crawl. Hands grasped out to touch him and Clara connected. “Guarda!”, she triumphantly shouted, showing me her hand. “And all my friends want to touch this hand now, too.”
The stunning floral tapestries of the infioratori of Cannara and Spello stretched across the piazza to the Cathedral. The Spello group’s floral image reproduced the Giotto fresco of San Francesco holding up the crumbling Church: a clear message? Cannara’s floral image depicted African immigrants, one face with a tear dropping from the eye; after all, Pope Francis’ first Papal visit had been to the island of Lampedusa where thousands of refugees have arrived. Not all survive the trip… on October 3rd, the day before the Pope’s Assisi visit, hundreds had drowned just off Lampedusa.
Someone else had died on that day centuries ago: San Francesco di Assisi.
-Many thanks to Janet Eidem for letting Anne use (and letting all of us enjoy!) some of the great photos used in the note. Much appreciated, janet! – Apologies for not including the credit from the get go.