The Holy Father noted that Assisi, eight centuries ago, “could harldly have imagined the role which Providence had assigned it.” It is the event which the Holy Father celebrated in Assisi today that gave it that role: the conversion of St. Francis.
“After twenty five years of a mediocre and ‘dreaming’ life, stamped by the search for worldly joys and vanities, he opened himself to grace, entered within himself, and gradually recognised in Christ the ideal for his life”, the Pope said.
Describing his journey to Assisi, Benedict revealed that he had “paused, with particular emotion in the little church of San Damiano, where Francis heard from the Crucified One the ‘programmatic word’: ‘Go, Francis, rebuild my house.’”
Regarding this call the Holy Father said, “It was a mission which began with the full conversion of his heart, in order to become, then, evangelic leaven cast forth into the Church and society.”
In this city of peace the Holy Father recalled the gathering of world religious leaders by John Paul II, in 1986. In that spirit, he also said, “I consider it my duty to launch “a pressing and concerned appeal that there might cease all the armed conflicts which bloody the earth,” particularly those in the Lebanon, Iraq, and the Middle East, “so beloved by St. Francis.”
“The populations of these countries have known, for too long, the horrors of combat, of terrorism, of blind violence, of the illusion that force can resolve the conflicts, the refusal to listen to the other and to grant him justice”.
Before reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father closed his address with these words: “May St. Francis, a man of peace, desire to obtain for us from the Lord that there may multiply those who accept to become ‘instruments of his peace’, through the thousand little acts of daily life.”