From Wounds, New Life

From Wounds, New Life

On January 5, 2024, at the Sanctuary of La Verna, Italy, the opening celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Stigmata of St. Francis (1224-2024) took place on Mount La Verna, the site of the original event. Here’s an excerpt from a reflection by friar Giovanni Voltan, Assistant General for the FIMP (Belgium, France, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey.)

All the Ministers General attended, namely, Friar Carlos Trovarelli, OFM Conv.; Friar Massimo Fusarelli, OFM; Friar Roberto Genuin, OFM Cap.; Friar Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR; Tibor Kauser, OFS; and Sister Frances Marie Duncan, President of the International Franciscan Conference of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular.

There were several things that impressed me during the day. To start, there was the mountain itself, whose “raw stone” (cf. Dante) hosts the sanctuary. That morning, it was shrouded in low clouds. Another was the sanctuary, which invites us to enter, little by little, into the special relationship that Francis had with Jesus during the Lent of 1224. It culminated with Francis receiving the gift of the stigmata on September 17, 1224.

The sanctuary invites us to visit the Chapel of the Conformitas, [the Chapel of the Stigmata] to approach that stone that saw so much fire lit with passion [the stone marking the exact spot where St. Francis received the stigmata; it is framed in the chapel floor]. The stone bears an inscription that reads: “Signasti, Domine, hic, servum tuum Franciscum” [Here, Lord, You marked Your servant Francis].

The celebration itself, despite being a bit long, was also impressive – from its title, “From Wounds, New Life,” to the three stages of its presentation. The second stage involved a small procession to the Chapel of the Stigmata and the opening of the Holy Door by the Most Reverend Andrea Migliavacca, Bishop of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro. The “wounds” in the title referred to the physical and internal wounds that Francis carried with him to La Verna that summer, two years before his death. It also meant the wounds Francis received when he conformed himself to the Lord: the imprints of joy and pain that marked his flesh and his heart. Another aspect of “wounds” are those of our time, namely, war, environmental crises, exaggerated nationalism, and more. Then there are the personal wounds that everyone carries. Only by handing these wounds over to a greater Love does one receive life – “new life.”

Finally, all the participants received a copy of the Assisi chartula, a precious relic from the time Francis stayed at La Verna. Like Brother Leo, we, too, have been blessed by Francis, “benedicat tibi Dominus et custodiat te” [May the Lord bless you and keep you]. We also have his Praises to the Most High God to help us live a life of praise and service, and do so “with great humility.”

Two more 800th anniversaries await celebration. They are the Canticle of Brother Sun (2025) and the Transitus of the Seraphic Father (2026). These will be further opportunities to grow as a family, gathering and updating the legacy of Francis.

(You can read Friar Giovanni’s entire reflection on the Order’s website: