Portrait of Saint Francis, Subiaco – UPDATED

When we visited the Benedictine abbey of Subiaco in 2010, my husband — obedient fellow that he is — did not take pictures of the glorious and vivid ancient frescoes that so fully adorn its walls. It was a grief to me, at the time, because my eyes couldn’t take it all in, and I wanted to remember. But of course, I got the souvenir book, which I do look at, and there is the internet, where one can still get a glimpse.

It’s not the same as being there, of course, amid the cave where Benedict lived and the rooms where so many of his spiritual sons walked and prayed. Our good pope Benedict XVI made a retreat at Subiaco shortly before his elevation to the papacy.

Of particular interest at the abbey is a portrait of St. Francis of Assisi done during his lifetime. As the site notes, before 1224:

Perfection does not consist in the knowledge of God’s order, but in submission to it. The order of God, the good pleasure of God, the will of God, the action of God, grace — all these are one and the same thing in this life. Perfection is nothing else than the faithful cooperation of the soul with the work of God. This ultimate purpose of our life grows and increases in our souls secretly and without our knowledge.

The sentiment is from Jesuit Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade, but I think Francis would approve.

I hope, someday, that we can make it back to Italy — to Rome, where my heart goes, every day — and to Sicily to see where our people came from, and to Tuscany, because I want to walk where Francis walked. I may be Benedict’s daughter, now, but a long time ago, I was very nearly Francis’.

Pope Benedict on Francis

Deacon Greg reminds us that Francis was a deacon

Joseph Pearce on Chesterton and Saint Francis

Abbey-Roads: The Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi
The Suffering Saint
Christophers Close-up: Love of God remakes the Soul
St. Francis and the Imitation of Christ
St. Francis and Authenticity
“What a waste of life”

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    Happy St. Francis of Assisi feast day! I truly love this saint. I consider him my personal patron saint, not because I consider myself to be anything like him, but perhaps because we’re nearly opposite. I love his simplicity and humility, knowing quite well I don’t lead a life of simplicity and that humility is hardly a trait anyone would say I exceed at. He is my opposite alter ego that I’m drawn to, reach out for, and try to balance myself with. We do share a love of God’s creatures and all forms of beauty. I can’t remember how old I was but it’s probably been close to forty years when I took “Francis” as my confirmation name. At the time I didn’t realize how opposite we would become as I became an adult, but I can’t help but feel he was calling me even as a child.

  • http://ldysinger.com Fr. Luke Dysinger, OSB

    Dear Ms Scalia,

    I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your meditations, which I occasionally share with the oblates of my Abbey and sometimes with my students (I teach moral theology and church history at the diocesan seminary for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles).
    I am also delighted and regard it as a privilege to to count you as a sister in St. Benedict. However, I hope you will not take it amiss if I correct you on one small but significant point. Since Pope Benedict’s election and choice of name the rumor has swirled through several continents that he is a Benedictine oblate. Several years ago I was invited to dinner with the current Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, Abbot Notker Wolf, and he assured those of us who asked him about this question that it is not true. The Pope has a great reverence for Our Holy Father Benedict, but he is not himself an oblate. If anyone should know the truth of this matter, I think it would be the Abbot Primate.
    I thought you would like to know.
    Again, thank you for all you do.
    In Christ and St. Benedict,
    Fr. Luke Dysinger, OSB

    [Argh! SCALD! I am so disappointed (and so embarrassed!). I had seen this in several places but never thought to question it. Benedict has always seen such a good Benedictine, and I figured if JPII could be a Carmelite, why not? I will amend. Thanks for letting me know - adming].

  • Linda Klatt

    Elizabeth, I am also a Benedictine Oblate and will be visiting Rome soon. Would you be willing to share tips for reaching Subiaco? Thanks!

    [My husband and I went as part of a class I was attending at a pontifical university, so I can't specifically recommend any particular day tour, but I'm sure you can find something like this. Subiaco is about an hour out of Rome. Wear your walking shoes! I hope you have a wonderful trip! Do stop by Chiesa Nuova and see St. Philip Neri and, if you can, whisper up a prayer for me? -admin]