04 October - Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro Bernardone in Assisi in 1181, was the son of a rich merchant family in Umbria. At his birth, while his father was in France, his mother had him baptized under the name Giovanni (John). On returning from his trip, his father gave him the name Francesco (Francis).

François then lives a dissipated youth. At the time of the communal revolts with their bourgeois aspiring to nobility, he makes war on the nobility of Assisi. The defeat of the Assisians in November 1202 was followed by a year's imprisonment. Sick during his captivity, he was freed at a cost of money. In 1205, while he was still dreaming of acquiring the rank of nobility, he was preparing to join the army of Gauthier de Brienne, but a dream in Spoleto led him to abandon all hope of accomplishing this project and refused to take up arms. On his return to Assisi, he gradually abandoned his lifestyle and his party companions and increasingly frequented the chapels of the Val di Spoleto.

In 1205, he was twenty-three years old. While praying before the crucifix in the Chapel of San Damiano, Francis hears a voice asking him to "repair his ruined Church". Taking the order to the letter, he went to the nearby town of Foligno to sell goods from his father's trade so that he could restore the old dilapidated chapel. He also spent a lot of money on almsgiving. Furious about his son's eccentricities, his father demands that he report to him. During his hearing in the square of Assisi in the spring of 1206, Francis returned the money he had left, along with his clothes, and finding himself naked, he said to his father and the assembled crowd: "Until now I have called you father on earth; now I can say: Our Father who art in heaven, since to Him I have entrusted my treasure and given my faith". The Bishop of Assisi, wrapping him in his cloak, covers his nakedness, not out of modesty, but to signify that the Church is taking him under her protection. He then decides to "marry Lady Poverty," dedicating himself to preaching and earning his bread by manual labor or almsgiving.

Bernard of Quintavalle and Pierre of Catania joined him very quickly, then others followed and François found himself at the head of a small community. In 1210 Pope Innocent III, who saw him in a dream supporting the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome's ruined cathedral, verbally validated the first rule written by Francis governing the nascent fraternity. In 1212 he welcomed Clare Offreduccio among his own people and founded with her the Order of the Poor Ladies, later called "Poor Clare Sisters" in reference to their patron saint. In 1222 Francis went to Bologna where, at the request of the laity, he created a third Order after that of the Friars Minor and the poor sisters: the Third Order (today called "Secular Fraternity").

In August 1224, Francis withdrew with a few friars to the monastery of Verna. On September 17 (three days after the feast of the Glorious Cross) he received the stigmata. He took refuge in a hut near the chapel of San Damiano. There he wrote his "Song of Brother Sun" or "Song of the Creatures", a celebration of God in his Creation.

He died on October 3, 1226 in the small church of the Porziuncola, today included as the chapel of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in the Val di Spoleto not far from the upper city of Assisi. He leaves a testament in which he professed his attachment to evangelical poverty and to the Rule. Francis was, unusually, quickly canonized on July 16, 1228 by Pope Gregory IX. On November 29, 1979, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him patron saint of those concerned about ecology in the Apostolic Letter "Inter sanctos praeclarosque viros".

Visitatio ad limina Apostolorum

The Episcopal Conference of Madagascar carries out a pilgrimage visit called "Visitatio ad limina". This visit is held in the Basilicas of the Apostles in Rome every five years where the bishops pray, meet and talk with the Holy Father and visit the different dicasteries and congregations of the Vatican for the good of the life of the Church and the people of God. Jean Séraphin Rafanomezantsoa, Secretary of Coordination, Episcopal Conference of Madagascar.

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Love and Salvation

Christmas is a great joy, because it is the love of God that has come to us, proclaims Fr. Bizimana Innocent, Provincial Superior of the Salesians Don Bosco of Madagascar and Mauritius, presenting his Christmas greetings. Salvation is accomplished, so life is not in danger of disappearing. It is this love and this salvation that we wish to fill our life so that we have peace.

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Zatti, our brother

The short film "Zatti, our brother" (Argentina, 2020) focuses on one of the most difficult episodes of his life. We are in Viedma, in 1941: at the age of 60, Zatti is forced to leave the hospital he has attended for decades. His faith and strength are tested.

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