Saint Francis Patron Saint of Italy Celebrations
Assisi is preparing to celebrate Saint Francis Patron of Italy from 24 September to 4 October 2019. An occasion to fully experience the spirituality of Assisi.
Saint Francis Patron Saint of Italy CelebrationsIt was 18 June 1939 when Pope Pius XII proclaimed Saint Francis of Assisi the Patron Saint of Italy along with Catherine of Siena. The “poverello di Assisi”, an international symbol of peace, is recognised as one of the most revered saints in the world. The anniversary of the transit of the Saint on 4 October 1226 is celebrated every year in Assisi at the Patriarcale Basilica e Cappella Papale di San Francesco (Patriarchal Basilica and Papal Chapel of St. Francis) and with various liturgical commemorations that involve the entire city. Saint Francis’ appointment as Patron of Italy is further recognition for the deeds of a man who dedicated his life to others, to meditation, to sacrifice and faith in God. This is why the friar, more than any other, represents the spirit of mediation and national identity through the power of faith, speaking with a universal language of renewal. The celebrations in honour of the Patron Saint of Italy start on 24 September with a series of commemorations and institutional meetings, in preparation for the celebrations of 4 October. It is on this day that the votive lamp of the Municipalities of Italy is lit, to celebrate the Patron Saint of Italy in the best way.
The Votive Lamp of Saint Francis
The ritual of the votive lamp is repeated from the first time it was lit, which dates back to 4 October 1939, and symbolises the recognition of the Patron Saint by all Municipalities.
The lamp, designed by the architect Ugo Tarchi in 1937, is in polished bronze and silver, with a height of 1.20 metres and an inscription on the cup that recites a verse by Dante “Altro non è che di suo lume un raggio” (But of its light a ray, must above all).
Above the cup there are three doves supporting an olive crown; the universal symbol of peace among men.
Every year the perennial flame of the lamp is revived with oil donated by region of Italy. This year Tuscany will have this privilege, as announced by the Minister General, Father Marco Tasca.
The mystery of Saint Francis’ Tomb
The body of the Patron Saint of Italy is buried blow the altar of the Lower Basilica of Assisi. History has seen the effective presence of the Saint’s mortal remains inside the crypt in the Basilica dedicated to him on 25 May 1230 be doubted several times.
In 1818 Pope Pius VII secretly authorised the discovery of the sacred remains. After 52 days of exhausting excavations, due to the particular attention with which the friar from Assisi had been buried, it was possible to identify the mortal remains.
A special commission, made up from Umbrian Bishops, experts and notaries reported the result of the examinations to Pope Pius VII and on 5 September 1820 it was declared “certain and unquestionable”.
In 1978 Pope Paul VI inaugurated a new identification of the body of Saint Francis, which once again confirmed the authenticity of the mortal remains of the saint, as well as allowing interventions for better preservation of the same. The last restoration of the crypt ended in 2011.