2013-10-03 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) The streets of Assisi are already decked with white and yellow flags in anticipation of Pope Francis’ pastoral visit on Friday to the home of Saint Francis.
At the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, first Vespers marked the beginning of the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.
The residents of Assisi have been busy all week preparing for the arrival of Pope Francis—the first Bishop of Rome to take the name of Assisi’s most famous son.
Listen to Christopher Wells' report from Assisi...
Pope Francis is only the most recent pontiff to visit this medieval city. Just over a year after the death of Francis, Pope Gregory, who had been a close friend and confident of the saint, came here to canonize the “Little Poor Man” of Assisi.
More recently, both Blessed John Paul the Second and Pope Benedict XVI have journeyed to Assisi. During the last papal visit, in 2011, Benedict spoke about the role of religion, and of a lack of religion, in the common efforts of mankind to find peace and freedom.
Those are themes that have also echoed in Pope Francis’ papacy – especially in his call to non-believers to find areas of agreement and communion with non-believers. The Holy Father’s visit to Assisi on Friday is expected to have a very devotional aspect, as he visits all of the most important sites of Saint Francis’ life. In keeping with the social justice themes that have characterized his papacy thus far, the Pope will also have a number of opportunities to meet with the sick and the poor, and others who find themselves on the “peripheries” of society.
In the meantime, as the sounds of Vespers are fading, the people anxiously await the arrival of Pope Francis.