For as long as I can remember, I have loved St. Francis and St. Clare. When we were planning a trip to Italy, I convinced my husband to make Assisi one of our stops. It was every bit as beautiful and peaceful as people describe.

But the greatest gift that I received from that trip was the realization that the world of Francis and Clare was ordinary. It was that ordinariness, imbued with profound love of God, that made it so extraordinary.

The Church that Francis Built

The old town of Assisi is up on a hill, but at the foot of the hill is the impressive Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. As incredible as the basilica is, the real draw is a tiny, humble church building (Porziuncola) located in the center of the nave.

Roughly built of stone, it is the church that Francis re-built, when Christ famously spoke to him from the cross of San Damiano. If you walk around its walls, or reach out and touch the stone, it is stunning how ordinary it is. But people make pilgrimages from around the world, in order to see the work of Francis’s hands.

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