Wednesday, June 9, 2010

La Foresta

Also in Rieti Province (see Lazio map), 4 kilometers from the town of Rieti, is La Foresta Franciscan Sanctuary. Francis stayed here in 1225 and it’s believed that this is where he composed the Song of Brother Sun. There’s a 13th century church and a cave used by Francis. In addition to Greccio and La Foresta, Francis visited other parts of the Rieti Valley and it’s sometimes called the Sacred Valley. The Saint Francis Walk, an 80 kilometer walk, is a pilgrimage walk along paths used by Francis that includes eight stops important to Francis.

La Foresta

La Foresta
This is a sanctuary that is well preserved and the vines are still there.
La Foresta is in a valley just five kilometres from Rieti – a peaceful retreat to which Frances came in the summer of 1225 to find rest because his health was failing: his sight was almost gone and the pain of the wounds of the stigmata was constant. He had been persuaded by Brother Elias to have an operation on his eyes and in the time of waiting he took refuge with the kindly priest who served the small church of Saint Fabian and who made wine from the grapes that grew right beside the house.
Legend has it that the many people who came to see Francis ate the grapes or trampled them so that the priest feared he would have no vintage that summer, but in fact his harvest was plentiful and his wine doubled.
La Foresta Ceramic
An artist commemorated
 the grape harvest at La Foresta in ceramic

A somewhat disputed tradition claims that the Canticle of the Creatures was written during the fifty days that Francis spent at La Foresta and on a rocky outcrop not far removed from the house there is statuary of Francis with his Friars to commemorate that event.
Another interesting feature of La Foresta is the Way of the Cross at the entrance to the shrine. This is a work of the Neopolitan School of the 18th Century brought here from the Convent of Saint Bonaventure in Frascati and blessed by Saint Leonard of Port Maurice who was the Franciscan originator of erecting the Way of the Cross in Churches.
The Canticle of the Creatures has been celebrated in song and in art throughout the centuries. You may like to pray it pondering the blessings of creation.

Canticle of the Creatures
Most High, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honour
And all blessing.

To you alone Most High do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,
And first my Lord Brother Sun,
Who brings the day, and light you give to us though him
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;
In the heavens you made them bright and precious and fair.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy … all the weather’s moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
So useful, lowly, precious and pure.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night.
How beautiful is he, how bright! Full of power and strength.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,
Who feeds us in her sovereignty
And produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
All praise be yours, my Lord,
Through those who grant pardon for love of you;
Through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned,
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death.
Woe to those She finds in mortal sin!
Happy those She finds doing your will!
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,
And serve him with great humility.
St Francis of Assisi