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’.
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”