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October 4

Saint of the day:

Saint Francis of Assisi

Patron Saint of Animals, Merchants & Ecology


Saint Francis of Assisi’s Story

It has been argued that no one else in history was as dedicated as Francis to imitate the life, and carry out the work of Christ. 

He believed that nature itself was the mirror of God. He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters”, and even preached to the birds and supposedly persuaded a wolf to stop attacking some locals if they agreed to feed the wolf. In his Canticle of the Creatures (“Praises of Creatures” or “Canticle of the Sun”), he mentioned the “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”, the wind and water, and “Sister Death”. He referred to his chronic illnesses as his “sisters". His deep sense of brotherhood under God embraced others and he declared that “he considered himself no friend of Christ if he did not cherish those for whom Christ died”.

For this reason Saint Francis of Assisi is remembered as the patron saint of ecology (nature) and animals. On his feast day we honor him at church with the blessing of the animals. So bring your pets, have them blessed, and don't forget to take a picture for your scrapbook.,_Assisi








Basilica di San Francesco D’Assisi

(Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi)

Piazza San Francesco 2

06081 Assisi, Italy

*St Francis is buried in the crypt of this church. (In the above picture)


Churches of Honor in Assisi


Chiesa Nuova (The New Church)

Piazza Chiesa Nuova

06081 Assisi, Italy

*This church preserves part of the house where St Francis grew up.

This includes the small room where St Francis was temporarily imprisoned by his father.


San Damiano (Saint Damian)      

Via San Damiano 85

06081 Assisi, Italy

*It was at this church that the San Damiano Crucifix miraculously spoke to St Francis the words,

“Go repair my church which you see is falling into ruins.”

*Later this church was given to St Clare. A room inside marks the location where she died in 1253.

Eremeo delle Carceri (Hermitage of the Prisons)

Via Eremeo delle Carceri

06081 Assisi, Italy

*St Francis would often come here for extended silent prayer.


Churches of Honor in Rome


Basilica of St John Lateran

Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano 4

Rome, Italy

*The fourth chapel on the left side of the nave is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. A painting within this chapel depicts St Francis receiving the stigmata.

*Within a small park just outside of this basilica is a large statue of St Francis. He is depicted facing the façade of the basilica with his arms outstretched. If one stands behind this statue at a certain distance it looks as if St Francis is holding up the church. This recalls the dream of Pope Innocent III in 1209 when he saw the church being supported by St Francis.


Santissime Stimmate di San Francesco

(The Most Holy Stigmata of St Francis)

Largo delle Stimmate

Rome, Italy

*This church is near the Largo di Torre Argentina. It is dedicated to the holy stigmata of St Francis of Assisi. It is not open often.


San Francesco d'Assisi a Ripa

(Saint Francis of Assisi in Ripa)

Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi 88

Rome, Italy

*The church is in the southern part of Trastevere.

*St Francis of Assisi stayed at this church during a visit to Rome.

*St Francis of Assisi stayed within a room in this church during a visit to Rome.

Within this room is a stone that is said to have been used by him as a pillow.


San Francesco d’Assisi a Monte Mario

(Saint Francis of Assisi on Monte Mario)

Piazzetta di Monte Gaudio 8

Rome, Italy

*This church is north of the Vatican.

*It is said that as St Francis journeyed from Assisi to Rome he caught his first glimpse of Rome from the hill upon which this church now rests.

Upon seeing the city St Francis immediately fell to his knees in prayer.


Santa Maria della Concezione

(Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception)

Via Veneto 27

Rome, Italy

*This church is just north of the Barberini metro stop.

*The third chapel on the right side of nave is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi.

The fresco on the left wall and the painting above the main altar were completed by Domenichino.

*Also within the third chapel on the left side of the nave is a painting by Girolamo Muziano that depicts St Francis receiving the stigmata.

San Bernardo alle Terme (Saint Bernard at the Baths)

Via Torino 94

Rome, Italy

*The church is north of Piazza della Repubblica.

*Within the chapel to the right of the main altar is a very moving statue of St Francis of Assisi.


Santi Apostoli (Holy Apostles)

Piazza dei Santi Apostoli 51

Rome, Italy

*This church is just east of Piazza Venezia.

*The third chapel on the left side of the nave is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi.

*Relics of St Philip and St James the Less (d. 62) rest within the confessio.

San Pietro in Montorio

(Saint Peter in Montorio)

Piazza San Pietro in Montorio 2

Rome, Italy

*This church is located on the Janiculum hill.

*Within the first chapel on the left side of the nave is a fresco completed by Giovanni de Vecchi that depicts St Francis with his stigmata.

*Also within the next chapel on the left side of the nave, which was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is a marble relief portraying The Ecstasy of St Francis.

Santa Maria in Trastevere (Our Lady in Trastevere)

Via della Paglia 14 / Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere

Rome, Italy

*This church is located in Trastevere.

*The third chapel on the left side of the nave is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi.

*Relics of the two popes St Callistus I (d. 222) and St Cornelius (d. 253) rest under the main altar of this church. These relics are joined by others in particular those of the priest and martyr St Calepodius (d. 232).

Santa Maria in Aracoeli (Our Lady in Aracoeli)

Piazza del Campidoglio 4

Rome, Italy

*This church is on top of the Capitoline Hill.

*The chapel in the right transept is dedicated to St Francis. Several paintings within this chapel depict scenes from his life.

*Also relics of St Helena, the mother of Constantine, rest in the left transept.



Blessing of the Pets

At our local parish Father Tran preformed the blessing. He greeted each beloved family member, graciously posed for a picture, and touched all our hearts with his kindness. I really do think my little fat, short hair, short legged, 14 year old Jack Russell had a little skip in his step because he felt so much love and positive energy. 



The Nativity


A Special Note

St. Francis of Assisi began the Christmas tradition of nativity scenes also called creches or manger scenes, because he wanted to help people gain a fresh sense of wonder about the miracles of the first Christmas. Up until Francis set up the first nativity scene in 1223, people celebrated Christmas primarily by going to Mass at church, where priests would tell the Christmas story in a language that most ordinary people didn’t speak: Latin. Although churches sometimes featured fancy artistic renditions of Christ as an infant, they didn’t present any realistic manger scenes. Francis decided that he wanted to make the extraordinary experiences of the first Christmas more accessible to ordinary people.



The Stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi (1224)

Two years before the great Saint Francis of Assisi died, and when he was forty-two years old — one year after he had built the first crib in honor of Our Lord — he went off to a lonely mountain called Mount Alvernia, to prepare himself by forty days of fasting and prayer for the feast of Saint Michael, the greatest of God’s angels, whose feast day is September 29. On the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14, Saint Francis received in his hands, feet and side the Sacred Wounds from Our Lord’s own body. Never was a saint more beautifully loved by Jesus than Saint Francis of Assisi. The wounds Jesus gave him stayed in his hands, feet and side, and continually bled for two more years, until he died in 1226. The day on which Saint Francis received the Five Wounds of Our Lord was September 14, but so that this beautiful event might have a feast day for itself, the Stigmata of Saint Francis are commemorated on September 17. The simple liturgy of this holy saint’s life might be put this way: the crib in 1223, and the Cross in 1224.




Lentil Stew 

 A lovely meatless dish to serve during Lent or anytime. 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 leeks, chopped

  • 4 cups vegetable broth

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 cup French green lentils (or any type of lentils) rinsed in cold water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon cumin

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme, minced

  • 3 or 4 cups butternut squash cut into ½ in cubes (or acorn squash)

  • 5 cups fresh or 1/2 cup frozen spinach (kale or collards), chopped

  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley or 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas

  • 3 oz goat cheese crumbles

  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar or to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

  2. Add onion and leeks. Cook until translucent, about three minutes.

  3. Add vegetable broth, garlic, lentils, salt, pepper, cumin, and thyme. 

  4. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium-low.

  5. Add butternut squash. 

  6. Simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

  7. Add spinach, parsley and peas.

  8. Cook on medium for 20 minutes or so until vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

  9. Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese.

  10. Serve immediately.

Puños de San Francisco Pastry

The Fists of Saint Francis 

I can just imagine why Italians celebrate this great saint with little cakes that look like fist. Early in his life he was quite the fighter. His name original was Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone. At a young age he was on a quest for knighthood, Francis fought in two major wars. The first was Assisi's civil war in 1198. At age 16 Francis joined merchant-class warriors who fought against the nobility and razed the walls of the city's fortress. In the second war, four years later, he rode mounted and in armor to battle Assisi's rival neighboring town, Perugia. Assisi's army was slaughtered, but Francis survived and was taken as a prisoner of war.

His father was able to ransom him from prison a year later, having learned that Francis had contracted malaria and tuberculosis and was near death. His mother nursed him for another year before he regained his health, though both ailments would afflict him the rest of his life.


After his recovery he made a final attempt to achieve his dream of knighthood by joining a legion in southern Italy. His malarial fever returned when he was 15 miles south of Assisi, and he went back home a failure.

In time, Francis embraced a religious vocation that showed itself in serving the afflicted and impoverished, following Jesus' command to sell all, give to the poor, and follow him. Francis took linens from his father's shop, sold them, and gave the money sack to an aged priest who oversaw a crumbling church near town.

Francis's actions and religious life shamed and enraged his father. Assisi's bishop held a public trial during which Francis's father accused him of stealing. Francis returned the money and then stripped naked, returning his father's clothes as well. He publicly renounced his identity as his son.


Completely naked, he said: “Until now I have called you my father on earth. But henceforth I can truly say: Our Father who art in heaven.” The astonished bishop gave him a cloak, and Francis went off to the woods of Mount Subasio above the city.

Francis renounced worldly goods and family ties to embrace a life of poverty. He repaired the church of San Damiano, refurbished a chapel dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle, and then restored the now-famous little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels.


April 16, 1210, marked the official founding of the Franciscan order. The Friars Minor, or Lesser Brothers, as they came to be known, were street preachers with no possessions and only the Porziuncola as a centre. They preached and worked first in Umbria and then, as their numbers grew rapidly, in the rest of Italy.

Francis considered all nature as the mirror of God and as so many steps to God. He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters,” and, in the most endearing stories about him, preached to the birds and persuaded a wolf to stop attacking the people of the town of Gubbio and their livestock if the townspeople agreed to feed the wolf. In his “Canticle of the Creatures” (less properly called by such names as the “Praises of Creatures” or the “Canticle of the Sun”), he referred to “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon,” the wind and water, and even “Sister Death.”

In 1212 Francis organized a second order, one for women, that became known as the Poor Clares. He gave a religious habit, or dress, similar to his own to the noblewoman later known as St. Clare (Clara) of Assisi and then lodged her and a few companions in the church of San Damiano, where they were joined by women of Assisi. 

Saint Francis' life was short but very full. He passed away at the age of 44 and his death is know as he Transitus of St. Francis.


October 3 is the vigil of his passing over and bears a special name — his Transitus. The word is derived from the Latin meaning "passage," "crossing" or "going over." The feast has always been an important part of Franciscan spirituality. Ideally, a Christian shouldn't be afraid of death — or as Francis called it, "Sister Death." Francis faced his own end with what could be described as joyful aplomb. A gentle turning to God in the final, ultimate mystery — the passing over or, should I say, the turning over, of one's soul to its Lover and Author.

“Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, 
from whose embrace no living person can escape. 
Woe to those who die in mortal sin! 
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. 
The second death can do no harm to them.” 
—St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Creatures.




Puños de San Francisco Pastry

The Fists of Saint Francis 

Ingredients (for 12 fists):

For the cake:

  • 4 eggs

  • 150 gr of sugar

  • 125 gr of flour

  • Sugar glace

For the cream:

  • 1 l. of milk, crust and lemon and a stick of cinnamon

  • 250 gr of sugar

  • 100 gr of flour

  • 7 eggs, 2 whole and 5 yolks.


The sponge cake:

  1. Beat the sugar and the 4 eggs until reaching the snow point. 

  2. Add the flour and stir until there is a thin dough without lumps. 

  3. Strips 5 cm wide and 20 cm long are made with a pastry bag. 
    A gap is left between the strips so that they do not stick when they expand. 

  4. The oven is preheated to 190 ° and these strips are introduced for 5 minutes. Allow to cool for 45 minutes.

The cream:

  1. The milk is boiled, with the lemon rind and the cinnamon stick. 

  2. In another bowl mix the flour, sugar, two whole eggs and the yolks of five other eggs. 

  3. Beat everything well and add the boiled milk. 

  4. Put the whole mixture over low heat until it starts to boil. 

  5. Let it cool a little and place it on the biscuits placed inside out. 

  6. The strips are cut in half so that they are the size of a fist and they are rolled one at a time to give it the shape. Sprinkle sugar on top with a sifter.

    Sometimes things are lost in translation but I would make this like a swiss roll cake. see below for a swiss roll recipe

puc3b1os-de-san-francisco (2).jpg

Vanilla Sponge Cake Roll


  • 2 large eggs

  • 3 egg yolks

  • 3 egg whites

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting towel

Vanilla Mascarpone Cream Filing:

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream cold

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup chopped strawberries

Berries (for garnish):

  • blueberries

  • blackberries

  • strawberries


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 15x10x1 baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with baking spray (or grease and flour). Set aside.

  2. Sprinkle powdered sugar onto a large, clean dish towel (same size or bigger than baking sheet). Set aside.

  3. Beat egg whites in a large bowl until frothy, gradually add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

  4. In a large mixing bowl beat egg yolks and eggs for 2-3 minutes. Add sugar, water, and vanilla and beat an additional minute until fully incorporated. Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt and turn the mixer to low until just combined. Gently fold in egg whites.

  5. Pour into prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 9-12 minutes or until the cake is golden or springs back when gently pressed in the center. Make sure to keep a close eye on it after 7 minutes so it does not overcook.

  6. Remove from oven carefully with oven mitts or towels and immediately flip cake onto the prepared powdered sugar towel. (This will cause the powdered sugar to splash everywhere - this is normal) Peel off parchment paper. Place a clean sheet of parchment paper over the back of cake and roll cake up in towel carefully (from short end to short end). Cool for one hour.

To make filling:

  1. In a cold mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. In another bowl using a rubber spatula, beat Mascarpone cheese with vanilla until smooth. Fold in whipped cream until smooth and combined. Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble.

  2. To assemble: When cake is cooled, unroll gently. Remove parchment paper and spread filling in the cake. Sprinkle chopped strawberries. Re-roll the cake tightly without the towel. Refrigerate cake on a plate with plastic wrap over the top.

  3. When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap and sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with fresh berries.

  4. This cake is best served within 1-2 days.

Note: One may fill this cake with pudding or whipped cream. Go crazy with the flavors and have fun. Make a chocolate cake with vanilla cream or a lemon cake with lemon curd. The possibilities are endless.




 Patron Saint of Ecology 

Saint Francis also has a connection to chestnut.  Italians eat chestnuts on his feast mostly because they are in season. 
In Sicily the oldest chestnut tree in the world is located near Mt. Etna. It is listed in the Guinness World Records for the Greatest Tree Girth Ever! The tree is also named after a legend with the Queen of Aragon. The tree's name originated from a legend in which a queen of Aragon and her company of one hundred knights, during a trip to Mount Etna, were caught in a severe thunderstorm. The entire company is said to have taken shelter under the tree.

The Hundred-Horse Chestnut Tree
Linguaglossa Road,  Sant'Alfio, Sicily

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