COMPI Initial Formation Conference

The Stimmata: A point of arrival and departure for Francis of Assisi

24 February 2024

From the 19th to 22nd February, 2024, the COMPI Initial Formation Conference was held at the friary of “St Francis in the Desert” in Venice, with the theme: “The stigmata in training”. Br Luigi Riccio, OFM of the Puglia-Molise Province, shared his experience with us.

Having as a reference the biblical quote: "Have in yourselves the same feelings that were in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2.5) and wanting to understand the journey that Saint Francis followed emotionally after the encounter with the leper moving forward towards the great event of the Stigmata, passing through the experience of perfect joy, we were guided by Sr Michela Della Volpe, an Alcantarina Franciscan sister. We spent this time of formation in prayer, sharing and fraternity, at the end of which, each of us expressed our gratitude to God and our brothers.

There were many ideas for personal and community reflection, together with some questions and thought provoking themes that Sister Michela shared with us. May I share with you some of them which, in a particular way touched the hearts of many of us: being in the image and likeness of God and learning to look at others with the eyes of God; letting feelings and emotions pass through us, giving them a name (this is a sign of authenticity in a path of discipleship); remembering the "different" calls from the Lord in our lives, since, for each of us, as it was for Francis of Assisi, there is not a single call but multiple calls from God, in order to be able to continually resume the path of discipleship; facing fears, and thus seizing the opportunity to transform what may initially seem like an obstacle, an impediment, into a strength. 

For Saint Francis, in fact, embracing the leper and the experience of perfect joy were both opportunities to transform one's way of seeing and thinking and above all they were a reason to make valuable and other necessary decisions, such as the choice of go to La Verna.

Right here, on this very mountain of La Verna, our Seraphic Father Francis chooses to go, to understand once again the Will of God, the place of arrival, but also of departure.

The saint of Assisi, with the sign of the Stigmata, receives a new call from the Lord; the fear he initially felt in touching the leper and the anger felt in being rejected by his brothers were transformed into joy, love and charity; Saint Francis, coming down from the mountain, began to follow Christ again, transmitting to his brothers a different outlook, a renewed trust, a strength fuelled by the joy of the Love of God.

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