Francis’ life is so iconic and symbolic. It happens when that somehow or other with Francis connections are made.
On the pilgrimage I made in 1987 hitch hiking to Jerusalem from England I stopped in Assissi. The place was packed with an international conference of Franciscans. They were all there in the streets like Francis clones dancing and playing guitars and being happy and joyful and all that, but consequently I could not find a place to stay, and wound up in a little pensione–paying more than I should have. Then I lost my wallet. I only had enough money to buy a ticket to Rome where I could contact the bank and cancel my traveler’s checks and draw more funds. So in Assissi I was impoverished for a few days. When I got to Rome I had to beg for a room–assuring the sisters at the hostel that I could pay once I was able to draw more money.
In Venice I visited the beautiful ancient Franciscan friary on the island of San Francesco del Deserto, and when I got off the boat and walked up to the monastery a huge German Shepherd like dog bounded up. I was scared. A friar laughed and called him. He was named Gubbio. Geddit?
So in many of the Franciscans I have known–something about the founder lives in them, summed up in the words spoken by one of the Franciscan friars of the renewal who were at St Joseph’s Catholic School last spring: “We follow Jesus Christ in the Way of St Francis.”