The inauguration of the Franciscan Centenary at the Sanctuary of Greccio in the presence of the 6 General Ministers of the Franciscan Family. Greccio (RI), January 7, 2023. In the presence of the 6 General Ministers of the Franciscan Family, the Franciscan Centenary was inaugurated today, beginning a series of events tracing the last stages of the life of St. Francis of Assisi, that will finally lead to the 800th anniversary of the Easter of our Seraphic Father.
The celebration was presided over by Br. Luciano de Giusti, provincial minister of the St. Bonaventure Province of the Order of Friars Minor and was held at the church of the Sanctuary of Greccio where, on Christmas night in 1223, St. Francis wanted to celebrate a very special Christmas. This year also marks, besides the Christmas at Greccio, the 800th anniversary of the Regola Bollata written by St. Francis on November 29, 1223 for his friars.
In the first part of the celebration, after an enthronement of a copy of the Regola Bollata at the foot of the altar, passages from the Rule and Testament of St. Francis were read, that were closely related to each other and formed a profound unity, both nurtured by the one, great evangelical ideal that always guided the steps of St. Francis. The second part of the celebration recalled the First Christmas at Greccio, when St. Francis, for the first time in history, devised the nativity scene, as narrated by Thomas of Celano, the first biographer of the saint from Assisi, in his “First Life of St. Francis”. Thomas recalls how, in the "village of Greccio," Francis wanted contemporary eyes to see the precariousness that the Family of Nazareth had to face for the birth of the baby Jesus. In the last part of the celebration, the six General Ministers, accompanied by Br. Luciano de Giusti, carried the statue of the Child in procession to the grotto of the sanctuary.
The expression “Franciscan Family” is used in a broad sense to refer to all religious groups that are inspired by the charism of St. Francis. The Franciscan charism has inspired men and women over the centuries, whether laity, religious brothers, religious sisters or priests, who have formed different groups. The Conference of the Franciscan Family consists of six members: the General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), the General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFMConv), the General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFMCap), the General Minister of the Third Order Regular (TOR), the General Minister of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO), and the President of the International Franciscan Conference of Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular (CFI-TOR).
The Centenary will consist of 5 Centenaries that will take place over 4 years, in which it will be possible to reflect and contemplate the Later Rule/Christmas at Greccio (1223-2023), the gift of the Stigmata (1224-2024), the Canticle of the Creatures (1225-2025) and the Easter of Francis of Assisi (1226-2026).
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