DHT, 5/24

On the Franciscan calendar, the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Francis is celebrated on May 24. This church was begun at the direction of Pope Gregory IX, a longtime friend of Francis; Gregory laid this basilica’s cornerstone the day after he canonized Francis on July 16, 1228. What was once known as “the Hill of Hell” (where criminals were executed) soon became known as “the Hill of Paradise.”

Francis had been originally buried in Assisi’s Saint George Church; he was reburied here on May 25, 1230. The basilica (a Gothic church atop a Romanesque church over a crypt) was solemnly consecrated in 1253. Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini, and other prominent artists decorated its walls and ceilings.

Saint John Paul II’s historic 1986 World Day of Prayer for Peace concluded in the piazza outside the lower basilica. So did his follow-up January 2002 gathering and Pope Benedict XVI’s 25th-anniversary event. Pope Francis celebrated Mass in that piazza seven months into his pontificate.

DHT, 5/22

“Now therefore, brethren, we urge you to praise God. That is what we are all telling each other when we say Alleluia. You say to your neighbor, “Praise the Lord!” and he says the same to you. We are all urging one another to praise the Lord, and all thereby doing what each of us urges the other to do. But see that your praise comes from your whole being; in other words, see that you praise God not with your lips and voices alone, but with your minds, your lives and all your actions.” St Augustine