We awoke to the glorious sound of bells ringing from the Abbey of San Pietro below our hotel. We began our tour of Assisi with a hike up the narrow cobblestone streets to the Basilica of Saint Francis. Bishop Malesic celebrated Mass with all of the pilgrims at the Tomb of Saint Francis where the saint's remains are held in a stone casket directly behind the altar. The prayer sachet, filled with prayer requests from througout the diocese, was placed on the altar and remembered during the prayers of the faithful.
Following the Mass we were joined by two Franciscan priests, Father Daniel and Father Daniel! They guided us through the basilica and taught us so much about Saint Francis and the history of the building. The lower church was filled with frescoes depicting the life of Jesus and events in the life of Saint Francis. The upper church, with a ceiling twice as tall as the church below, was also filled with beautiful frescoes. Scenes from the Old Testament as well as more scenes from the life of Saint Francis covered each wall.
After the tour, we left the basilica and hiked up more narrow cobblestone streets heading to the town of Assisi. Beautiful stone buildings lined both sides of the streets, filled with little shops and restaurants. We made our way to the original town square: the Piazza del Comune. We walked through the Temple of Minerva, a Catholic church with an ancient Roman Forum facade built in the second century A.D.
We stopped to pray at the Basilica of Saint Clare. There hangs the original San Domino Crusifix which spoke to Saint Francis. This basilica also contained many relics of Saint Clare and Saint Francis. A short distance from the Basilica of Saint Clare stands Chiesa Nuova. It is a small church build over the home of Saint Francis' family.
Lunch today was on our own, giving everone a chance to visit some of the little restaurants and shops that we had hiked by. After the lunch break we boarded taxis and drove up the steep winding mountain road to our next stop, Eremo delle Carceri, also known as The Hermitage. A beautiful stone cloister, hidden in the dense woods of Mount Subasio, was where Francis and his first companions withdrew in prayer every so often. We ventured through this beautiful place of peace and silence, walking through low narrow hallways, tiny doors, and steep dark stairways.
Our taxis then took us back down the mountain to out last holy site of the day: The Sanctuary of San Domiano. When Francis heard the voice of the crusifix tell him to rebuild the church, he set about rebuilding it here. Saint Clare lived here for 42 years with the Poor Clares until her death in 1253.