On November 29, 2023, the Franciscan Family in Nazareth, Israel, gathered to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the promulgation of the Later Rule. Their celebration coincided with the Franciscan centenary celebrated the same day in Rome.
The celebration in Nazareth included Mass in the grotto of the Basilica of the Annunciation, presided over by Friar Wojciech BOŁOZ, OFM, the Guardian and Rector of the Basilica as well as the Shrine of the Holy Family. All members of the Franciscan Family present in Nazareth attended the Mass, including the Friars Minor, the Poor Clares, other Franciscan sisters and members of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS). After the Mass, Friar Wojciech invited all the celebrants and participants to a fraternal meal and an exchange of greetings at the Casa Nova, a hostel located opposite the Basilica. The atmosphere was very joyful as everyone met with one another; it was the first time in a long time that the whole Franciscan Family had gathered together!
Ramez SALEM, OFS Nazareth
To the members
of the Franciscan family
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is with joy in my heart that I wish to send you my best wishes on such an important occasion for the entire Franciscan Family, whose prayerful presence and filial closeness I have felt since the beginning of the Petrine Ministry. The eighth centenary of the confirmation of the Rule of the Friars Minor by Pope Honorius III which took place at the Lateran on November 29, 1223, is an auspicious occasion not only because it commemorates an historical event, but above all because it revives in you the same spirit that inspired Francis of Assisi to strip himself of everything, and give rise to a unique and fascinating form of life since it is rooted in the Gospel and lived sine glossa. May this jubilee be for each of you a time of inner rebirth, of a renewed missionary mandate for the Church which calls you to go out to meet the world where many brothers and sisters are waiting to be consoled, loved and cared for.
Therefore, moved by these sentiments, I am here to deliver you some exhortations that arise precisely from the words of the Poverello of Assisi, who advises his friars to “[…] observe poverty and humility and the holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ […]” (Regola bollata XII:4).
Observing the Holy Gospel
The Regola bollata in fact begins and ends with an explicit reference to the Gospel. The opening expression is an illuminating synthesis of the entire Rule: “The Rule and life of the friars minor is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own and in chastity” (Regola bollata I:1).
For St. Francis, the Gospel was at the center of his existence; and the Church has approved its purpose, returning it to him and to all of you Franciscans as a text that no longer expresses only the spiritual intuition of a Founder, but a form of life. It is a message of joy that I have often wished to point out because it “fills the heart and the entire life of those who encounter Jesus.” (Evangelii gaudium, No. 1).
It is therefore urgent to return to the foundation of a Christian and baptismal commitment, capable of being inspired, in every choice, by the Word of the Lord: Christ is the focal point of your spirituality! Ben men and women who truly learn “rule and life” in His school!
Obedience to the Church
Beloved, to live the teachings of the Master it is necessary to remain in the Church. Francis manifests this in a decisive manner because to the introductory sentence which describes the desire to follow the evangelical counsels, he immediately adds suggestive words, singular in content and language: “Brother Francis promises obedience and reverence to our Lord Pope Honorius and his successors canonically elected and to the Roman Church. Let the other brothers be bound to obey Brother Francis and his successors. (Regola bollata I:2-3)
In that bond of “obedience and reverence” to the Pope and to the Church of Rome, he acknowledges an essential element for faithfulness to the call and for receiving Christ in the Eucharist; This is why he declares without hesitation his indispensable belonging to the Church. So then, live the spirit of the Rule by listening to and dialoging with one another, as the synodal path suggests doing. Support the Church with a firm hold, repair it by your example and by your testimony, even when it seems to cost more!
Going Out into the World
Finally, I want to take up an insight always found in the Regola bollata about going out into the world. Speaking in first person, the Seraphic Father articulates thusly: “I counsel, admonish and exhort my brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ not to quarrel or dispute or judge others when they go about in the world; but let them be meek, peaceful, modest, gentle and humble, speaking courteously to everyone, as is becoming. […] Into whatever house they enter, let them first say: Peace be to this house […]” (Regola bollata III:10-13)
Going around the world for you Franciscan friars and sisters really means realizing your itinerant vocation in the manner of fraternity and a peaceful life, without quarrels or disputes either between you or with others, giving proof of “minority”, with meekness and docility, announcing the peace of the Lord and entrusting yourselves to providence: it is a special plan for evangelization, possible for everyone.
From this perspective, it is good to rediscover the beauty of the characteristic Franciscan evangelization which is borne from a fraternity to promote fraternity; in fact, it is a life that speaks, love given in service is the greatest vehicle for proclamation. Find strength, therefore, in that peculiar vocation, proper to “minors” and “the poor,” such as you are by your desire and your sense of belonging.
It is given to you by Francis in his Rule and I am convinced that it is in tune with the invitation I address to the Christian Community to be a “Church that goes out”: “In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded.” (Evangelii gaudium, No. 23).
And therefore I say to you: do not hesitate to go about the world in “fraternity” and in “minority” sharing the blessedness of poverty, becoming an eloquent sign of evangelism and showing to our age – marked so unfortunately by wars and conflict, by all kinds of egoism and rationale for exploitation of the environment and of the poor – that the Gospel is indeed the good news for man to find the best direction for constructing a new humanity together with the courage to set out towards Jesus, who “though he was rich, became poor for us, so that we might become rich through his poverty” (Cf. 2 Cor 8:9).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I entrust to you the mission of recognizing the right paths you must follow in order to correspond boldly and faithfully to the charism you have received. As you prepare to recall the fundamental stages in the history of this vast Franciscan Family, I invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary and Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi and I willingly send my Blessing, asking that you please continue to pray for me.
Rome, from St. John Lateran. November 9, 2023.
Anniversary of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica Cathedral of Rome
Participation via Streaming
On November 29, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. (Italian time), the 800th anniversary of the confirmation of the Later Rule will be celebrated at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.
November 29, 1223, was the day that Pope Honorius III confirmed the Rule that St. Francis had presented to him. The pope returned the Rule to Francis and his brothers as a mandate from the Church. Just so, Pope Francis will be returning the Rule to us with a message confirming us once again in the mission of going around the world to live and bear witness to the Gospel.
This celebration will involve all members of the Franciscan Family. It will be a time of prayer and fraternity, marked by gratitude to God for what he has done in the Church and in the world through our Franciscan presence. Moreover, we shall pray together today to be faithful to the vocation we have received.
We invite you to join all of our fraternities around the world in attending this important celebration. It will be live-streamed on the official website of the Franciscan Centenary (www.centenarifrancescani.org) or via the YouTube link:
As we gather from different countries around the world to participate in the same liturgy, may this event be an opportunity to grow in fraternity and communion in our respective Orders, and even more broadly, as brothers and sisters, who in various ways and forms, are committed to living the Gospel according to the teachings of St. Francis.
Eight hundred years ago, on November 29, 1223, Pope Honorius III approved the Rule of the Friars Minor though his Bull Solet annuere, which he addressed to Brother Francis and the other members of his Order. The incipit at the beginning of the Bull declares that the document is a confirmation of what Pope Innocent III had already orally approved during the famous meeting that took place in Rome around 1210. This is how Francis himself remembers it in his Testament: “And after the Lord gave me brothers, no one showed me what I should do, but the Most High himself revealed to me that I had to live according to the pattern of the holy Gospel. And I had this written down simply and in a few words and the Lord Pope confirmed it for me” (Testament 14-15; FF 116).
In 1211, Brother Bernard of Quintavalle brought this so-called propositum vitae to Bologna where it gained its first admirers, as narrated in Chapter 5 of the Little Flowers of St. Francis (FF 1833).
For eight hundred years, the Later Rule, sealed with the “bulla” of Pope Honorius, has been the juridical and charismatic point of reference for the friars of the Franciscan First Order in Bologna, namely:, the Friars Minor at the Basilica of Sant’Antonio and, more recently, the Church of Santo Stefano; the Conventual Franciscan friars at the Basilica of San Francesco (who were declared distinct from the Friars Minor by the “Generalissimo Chapter” of 1517); and the Capuchin Franciscans (founded around 1525) at the Church of San Giuseppe.
Through them, the Later Rule has been going into the city every day for eight hundred years, not in search of admirers of itself, but in search of admirers of what the Rule was founded upon: “the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
However, a question arises: eight hundred years later, what can this text still have to say?
We presented this question to twelve people from Bologna: Davide CONTE, Pietro ZAULI, David COLGAN, Andrea LAPPI, Valentina MARCHESINI, Daniele RAVAGLIA, Luisa LEONI, Mauro FELICORI, Elena UGOLINI, Marco DEL GOVERNATORE, Chiara LOCATELLI and Marina ORLANDI. On Wednesday, November 29, 2023, at 8.45 p.m., each of them will speak about one of the twelve chapters of the Later Rule. The event will take place at the San Francesco Basilica and Friary in Bologna.
Reader: Jacopo TREBBI
Music: Adrea GIANESSI
Promoted by: Biblioteca San Francesco Bologna
The Conference of the Franciscan Family is pleased to announce that a plenary indulgence has been granted from December 8, 2023, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, until February 2, 2024, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The indulgence may be obtained by visiting a church served by Franciscans and praying before the nativity scene set up there.
In the letter the Conference wrote to all the confreres, it states that this indulgence, linked to the Franciscan Centenary of the Christmas at Greccio, was requested and obtained from Pope Francis in order to promote the spiritual renewal of the faithful and increase the life of grace. Even those who cannot physically visit a Franciscan church can experience the Indulgence by offering their sufferings or carrying out a spiritual sacrifice.
Conference of the Franciscan Family
Prot. N. 31/2023
Assisi, October 4, 2023
Solemnity of the Seraphic Father St. Francis
To the attention of the
brothers and sisters
of the Franciscan Family
Plenary Indulgence on the Occasion of the Eighth Centenary of the Christmas at Greccio
as Experienced by St. Francis of Assisi
Dear brothers and sisters,
may the Lord give you peace!
We write to you from Assisi, where we are gathered on the occasion of the celebrations for our Seraphic Father, to share with you the great gift and privilege that the Holy Father wanted to grant us on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the Christmas at Greccio. Here St. Francis wanted to commemorate the birth of the Lord starting with a nativity scene, leading to the Eucharistic celebration, where Jesus Christ makes himself present in the bread and wine.
During this Centenary, on April 17, 2023, we addressed the following petition to the Holy Father: “in order to promote the spiritual renewal of the faithful and increase the life of grace, we ask that the faithful receive a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions from December 8, 2023, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to February 2, 2024, the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by visiting the churches run by Franciscan families throughout the world and stopping in prayer in front of the nativity scenes set up there. Likewise, those who are sick or unable to participate physically can equally benefit from the gift of the plenary indulgence, offering their sufferings to the Lord or carrying out practices of piety.”
The Apostolic Penitentiary favorably welcomed the request, granting the right to announce it publicly.
Therefore, in all the churches entrusted to us for pastoral care,
it will be possible for all the faithful
to receive a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions,
from December 8, 2023 to February 2, 2024.
We ask you to share this “privilege” in all our locations which fits in well with the special relationship that was established between St. Francis and the Church when he asked the Pope for the Indulgence for those who visited the Portiuncula; and we hope that it will be an opportunity for communion and spiritual renewal for every brother and sister in the entire Franciscan family.
May the Lord guide your steps
and give you his mercy!
Your President and Ministers General,
Frances Duncan, OSF
Tibor Kauser, OFS
Massimo Fusarelli, OFM
Roberto Genuin, OFMCap
Carlos Alberto Trovarelli, OFMConv
Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR
This exhibition is a review of materials and testimony, most of which has been carefully selected from the rich patrimonial archive of the Friars Minor Province of St. Bonaventure in Italy. Hosted by the Aracoeli Cultural Center, the exhibition recounts the vibrant and centuries-old work of the friars in central Italy. This cultural offering is more broadly known as the St. Francis Project.
The exhibition has been installed at the San Francesco a Ripa Church and Friary complex in Rome, where St. Francis of Assisi himself once stayed. The location was deliberately chosen because of its ideal connection with other places in Rome, such as the very centralized Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, on the Capitoline Hill and the quiet but vital San Bonaventura Friary on the Palatine Hill.
The exhibition displays materials from the 13th century to the present day. All of them are centered on the figure of St. Francis. They also trace the path of the development and life of the Order of Friars Minor. The exhibition aims to lead the viewer on an emotional journey, alternating moments of rest and meditation with moments of movement and conquest. This refers to internal conquest, of course, which is aimed at recovering one’s sense of Franciscan identity through a rich program of artistic and literary experiences, as presented by the St. Francis Project and later, by other cultural occasions commemorating the upcoming Franciscan Centenaries.
The exhibition, moreover, is not meant to be a short-lived event. Rather, it is a required first step in reopening the library-museum at San Francesco a Ripa to the public. Besides its extraordinary works of art, the library also houses some thirty thousand ancient and valuable books and preserves the completely restored and almost unknown frescoes of Emanuele da Como.
Panels and canvases relating to St. Francis. Exhibition of precious objects, codices, engravings, prints, and reliquaries―living and concrete evidence testifying to the history of the Franciscan movement in the Regions of Lazio and Abruzzo, Italy.
For hours and reservations, go to the website:
https://www.centroculturalearacoeli.org/mostra-nel-nome-di-san-francesco/ [Italian language only]
Assisi: Logo Selected for 800th Anniversary of the Death of St. Francis of Assisi
The National Committee for the Celebration of the 800th Anniversary of the Death of St. Francis of Assisi, chaired by poet Davide RONDONI, met in Assisi on October 4, 2023, the feast day of St. Francis, Italy’s patron saint. During the meeting, the Committee chose the official logo for the celebration. The logo was created by Isabella MANUCCI, a graphic designer from Rimini, Italy. Her logo design prevailed over all the others that the committee had received.
The Committee is tasked with developing a cultural program that relates to the life, work and locations associated with St. Francis of Assisi. In addition, it is charged with arranging for the protection and enhancement of the artistic heritage assets involved, in view of the anniversary celebration that will take place in 2026. […]
“The Committee is already outlining the cultural activities that will commemorate Francis, saint and poet, on this important occasion. In line with the Commedia of Dante Alighieri, we particularly want to emphasize how much the Christian and poetic figure of Francis still represents a fruitful crossroads, and a meeting point, between Western and Eastern spirituality. Moreover, we want to show how much this revered and world-famous Italian contributed to the joyful understanding of our relationship with all creatures, a cherished sign of the mysterious goodness of the Mystery. In addition to a substantial plan for more books and building up the Assisi Library Fund, there will be programs aimed at young people, calls to social action, exhibitions and new works of art commissioned. Thus, we want this celebration to leave a mark in the academic world and to be actively remembered,” said Committee Chairman Davide RONDONI.
The Committee is comprised of Davide RONDONI (Chairman) and members Stefania PROIETTI; Franco CARDINI; Vincenzo ROSITO; Gianfranco FORMICHETTI; Emanuela VARANO; the Most Reverend Felice ACCROCCA, Archbishop of Benevento, Italy; Fiammetta MODENA; Father Antonino TREPPIEDI; Friar Giulio CESAREO, OFM Conv.; Gianfranco BRUNELLI; Enrico MENESTÒ; Fabrizio GAREGGIA; Matteo FORTUNATI; Grado Giovanni MERLO; Stefano BRUFANI; Marina ROSATI; Friar Francesco PILONI, OFM; Friar Marco MORONI, OFM Conv.; and Paolo VIAN.
Extract from a press release on the website of the Italian Ministry of Culture, at:
Greccio and the O Antiphons
Creating Your Nativity Scene with Pope Francis is a free Franciscan resource*, available in fifteen languages, honoring the 800th anniversary of the Christmas at Greccio.
This easy-to-use meditation can be utilized:
- for a dramatic, large living nativity scene with hundreds of people,
- in a family home or within a religious community,
- in a school or parish,
- for one’s personal devotion.
There are also flyers and posters available in English, Spanish, and Italian, as well as a QR Code to help people access the resource more easily.
Please share far and wide!
High resolution images of the art are available upon request at:
To inquire about the possibility of translation into other languages, email:
The Guardian of the friary at Greccio, Friar Giovanni LOCHE, OFM, says that this resource is:
- A journey, an adventure to discover the Wonderful Secret of God.
- An interweaving of history, prayer, and art to remind us of our sublime dignity as Children of God.
Channeling the spirit of St. Francis, Pope Francis says:
“The nativity scene is like a living Gospel rising up from the pages of sacred Scripture. As we contemplate the Christmas story, we are invited to set out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman” (Admirabile Signum, 1).
Friar Michael LASKY, General Delegate for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)
*This project is the contribution of Roman VI, the JPIC Representatives of the Franciscan Family, for the celebration of the 800th Anniversary of the Christmas at Greccio.
A Special Thanks is offered for the work of the artist, Friar Joseph DORNIAK, OFM Conv.; the managing editor of “Franciscan Voice,” Laura BAUER; as well as the countless translators, proofreaders, and layout designers.
St. Francis Magazine Editorial Staff
On Saturday, September 16, 2023, the Ministers General of the Franciscan First Order: Friars Massimo FUSARELLI, OFM; Roberto GENUIN, OFM Cap.; and Carlos A. TROVARELLI, OFM Conv; met in Assisi at the Cortile di Francesco [Courtyard of Francis - an annual cultural symposium] to conduct a historical discussion that will likely impact Franciscan debate for years to come. The Ministers General met to reflect upon the Later Rule of St. Francis of Assisi, eight hundred years after its approval.
Other speakers contributed to the reflection as well. One was Professor Maria Pia ALBERZONI who discussed the work of the friars and the normative nature of the Rule from a historical perspective. Another was the poet Davide RONDONI, gave a detailed, aesthetic perspective on the relationship between the masculine and the feminine, and on the mission of Franciscans living in fraternity in today’s world. The Custos of the Sacred Convent of Assisi, Friar Marco MORONI, moderated the discussion.
November 29, 2023 - Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome
The Later Rule was approved by Pope Honorius III on November 29, 1223, with a Bull granted at the Basilica of St. John Lateran. November 29, 2023, marks the eighth centenary of that event. The Committee for the Centenary of the Franciscan Family invites everyone, in person or through the Centenary website www.centenarifrancescani.org, to participate in the celebration of this centenary, which will be held on November 29, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. (local time) inside the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.
The celebration will help us rediscover the value and meaning of the Later Rule for the entire Franciscan Family, through reflections and testimony that will reveal its relevance. This will be a multi-lingual celebration, which will alternate between different languages to facilitate online participation and express the internationality of the Franciscan Family. All six Ministers General, or their representatives, will be present.
We invite all those who are in Rome to attend in person. Moreover, we invite any who are unable to attend to participate online, during the live broadcast or at some other time (the celebration will remain on the Centenary website).
Speeches by the Ministers General on the Franciscan Centenaries
This year the YouFra International Meeting took place from 27th July to August 2nd, 2023, at the “Externato da Luz” Center in Lisbon. This meeting usually occurs the week before World Youth Day, allowing young people to share our charism during this significant event. (Se invierte el orden siguiente:) The theme of this year‘s International Youth Meeting was both suggestive and inspiring for young Franciscans on many aspects of their life, as it revolved around the motto "Hurry up, your brother is waiting for you", in perfect harmony with the motto of WYD which is taken from Lk 1,39.
In the context of this international meeting, on July 31st, 2023, the Ministers Generals of the First Order (OFMConv, OFM, OFMCap) and Third Regular Order (se invierte el orden), along with the Minister General of the SFO and the President of the IFC-TOR, offered a reflection based on the typical themes of the Centenarians that the Franciscan Family is experiencing.The meeting with the Superiors Generals took place in an atmosphere of fraternity and sharing. Each of them presented the specifics of a centenary, offering indications on how the Franciscan family should [embrace] this time of grace. The meeting was truly enriching, as it allowed the young people to hear firsthand about the Franciscan Centenarians and learn how to make them visible in the various regions where the Franciscans fraternities is [are] present.
The meeting with the General Ministers concluded with a session where young people had the opportunity to inquire about the path that, as Franciscans, the Lord is calling us to follow as Franciscan in this moment in history. Following this session, there was a lunch with the young people participating in the YouFra International Meeting and their assistants.
On July 14, 2023, the Conventual Franciscans of Cracow launched an exhibition of Cracow’s world-famous nativity scenes. The event took place to mark the upcoming 800th anniversary of the first living nativity scene created by St. Francis of Assisi.
“We are showing forty works created by twenty significant artists from Cracow,” said the event organizer, Marek MARKOWSKI. Mr. MARKOWSKI creates nativity scenes himself and is a recipient of the Medal for Merit to the Culture of Poland. He explained further: “Almost all of the nativity scenes on display have won annual competitions. The works on exhibition range from miniature nativity scenes, measuring a few centimeters, to large nativity scenes, including the tallest ever—measuring five meters (sixteen feet) in height.”
The exhibition is complemented by a dozen groups of nativity figurines made in different countries. They show how the custom of building nativity scenes, popularized by Franciscans, has taken different forms around the world. It is hoped that by opening this exhibition during the height of the tourist season, more visitors will be able to see Cracow’s masterpieces. The goal of the exhibition is to commemorate the 800th anniversary of St. Francis’ creation of the nativity scene in Greccio, Italy, in 1223.
Five years ago, Cracow’s nativity scenes were inscribed on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity as the first tradition from Poland and as the world’s first handcrafted nativity scenes.
In addition to their important representations of Christmas, the Cracow nativity scenes include architectural elements that show recognizable buildings in Cracow as well as historical and legendary characters related to the city itself. The nativity scenes often depict important events in the history of Poland.
This exhibition is part of the cycle of celebrations for the 2023-26 Franciscan Centenary. The Centenary was inaugurated in early 2023, in Greccio, by the Ministers General of the Franciscan Family. The celebrations commemorate some special events the last years of St. Francis’ life, namely, the approval of the Later Rule, the Christmas at Greccio, the Stigmata, the Canticle of the Creatures and the death of St. Francis in 1226.
The exhibition can be viewed until the end of August 2023, in the Blessed James Hall of the friary in Cracow, located at Franciszkańska Street 4 (entrance on the Planty Park side).
Friar Jan M. SZEWEK
Press Conference Marking the 800th Anniversary of St. Francis’ Creation of the First Nativity Scene
On July 12, 2023, a press conference entitled “Admirabile Signum” [enchanting image] took place to mark the 800th Anniversary of St. Francis’ creation of the first nativity scene. The conference was held at the headquarters of ENIT National Agency for Tourism in Rome.
The event began with an introduction from Ivana JELINIC, the CEO of ENIT. The panel of speakers included: the Most Reverend Vito PICCINONNA, Bishop of Rieti, Italy; the Most Reverend Domenico POMPILI, Bishop of Verona, Italy, President of the Episcopal Commission for Culture and Social Communication and the contact person of the Italian Episcopal Conference for the 2023-26 Franciscan Centenary events; Friar Simone CASTALDI, OFM, a Delegate of the Italian Friars Minor Province of San Bonaventura; Simona Renata BALDASSARRE, Councilor for Culture, Equal Opportunity, Youth and Family Policies of the Civil Service of the Italian Region of Lazio; Manuela RINALDI Councilor for Public Works and Reconstruction, Roads and Infrastructure Policies of the Italian Region of Lazio; Giampaolo LETTA, President of the Technical Group for Cultural Tourism and Major Events of the Union of Industrialists and Businesses of Rome (et al); Cristina PRIARONE, General Director of the Lazio Film Commission; and Giuseppe GIANNOTTI, Director of RAI Broadcasting’s Department of Culture and Education, History and Anniversaries Division. The meeting was coordinated by Enrico BRESSAN of the cultural consulting firm Fondaco Italia.
To read more, go to: https://bit.ly/43sO8tX [Italian language only]
“During Christmas, St. Peter’s Square and the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican will feature nativity scenes recalling that night in Greccio in 1223, and the message of St. Francis, which today is concretely and continuously attested to at the Shrine of the Nativity Scene in Greccio…”
“There will be many initiatives making up the program of the exhibition itinerary and the events of the ‘Valley of the First Nativity.’ This project was conceived by the Diocese of Rieti, Italy, and promoted, since 2017, with the Italian Friars Minor Province of San Bonaventura, the municipalities of Rieti and Greccio, and the Friends of the Nativity Association in Italy. All news and updates on the project and its program of events can be found at: www.valledelprimopresepe.it [Italian language only] and on dedicated social media...”
2023 CIOFS Formation Guide
CIOFS (International Council of the Secular Franciscan Order)
We have begun the journey of celebrations and family gatherings. Each year, we are going to share simple materials for all OFS and YouFra fraternities, so that together with the rest of the Franciscan Family around the world, they can share the great joy of celebrating together these centenaries during which we will commemorate: the 800th anniversary of the Later Rule (Regula Bullata); Christmas in Greccio (2023); the Stigmata (2024); the Canticle of the Creatures (2025) and, as a culmination, the Easter of Francis (2026).
Last year we received material from the Conference of the Franciscan Family to guide us in celebration. Below, we share a few paragraphs.
… The celebration of the centenaries has the basic aim and purpose of fixing our gaze toward the future and charismatically strengthening our Franciscan identity…
.... The gift that St. Francis received from the Divine Giver is most fully realized in its complementarity and lively reciprocal communion. This is a motivating force in the lives of “all those who love the Lord with their whole heart” (First Version of the Letter to the Faithful 1, FF 178/1). Therefore, as a Franciscan Family, we invite everyone who is attracted to the evangelical beauty of the Poverello (cf. Laudato si’ 10) to join us in celebrating these centenaries. The centenaries offer us a valuable opportunity to invigorate the richness of our charism with a prophetic vision toward the future....
… The celebration of the centenaries is undoubtedly a good occasion to make the Franciscan Family visible in its entirety. Therefore, it would be very fitting for all activities and initiatives, at the national and/or regional level, to be coordinated by a commission representing the entire Franciscan Family. Ad intra and Ad extra: The centenaries are not intended to have a positive impact only within the Franciscan Family. Imagination and creativity must be brought to bear so that the centenaries impact out wardly upon non-ecclesial social and cultural… (Conference of the Franciscan Family 2022).
We would appreciate it if each national fraternity would encourage the work and proposals put forth in these materials for this year 2023, two formation and meeting topics on the Crib and the Rule, which we, your brothers and sisters, have prepared with dedication and effort. The material is available in four languages:
Secretariat of the Valley of the First Nativity Scene
One of the most awaited events during the Giugno Antoniano Reatino Festival [Antonian June of Rieti, (Italy)] was the artistic “Churches in Bloom” biennial flower decoration event (June 24-25, 2023) organized in collaboration with the Porta d’Arce and Infioritalia Associations as part of the 7thannual Valley of the First Nativity Scene Project. During this event, important places in historic downtown Rieti exhibited colorful carpet-like displays created entirely from flowers, using skill, color selection, patience and technique.
Many flower decorators, young and old, accepted the invitation to decorate the route of the Procession of the Candles with logos and symbols representing this cultural event. The event is intended to promote the history of the Sacred Valley of Rieti. This year, it is also dedicated to the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Christmas at Greccio and the Later Rule of St. Francis.
A vast number of spectators came to admire these works, which were created by master flower decorators from the “Infiorata” Associations of the Cities of Cervaro, Castelraimondo, and Alatri and from the Infiorata Associations of the Bona Morte Infioratori and the Carmelite Monastery in Artena.
Last year, a series of flower decoration events in Rieti was jointly organized by various local groups. The most prominent of these was an exhibition in the foyer of the Flavio Vespasiano Theater. The displays served as a preview for this year’s events. There will be additional flower decoration exhibitions launched this year, starting on November 29, 2023, the Feast of All Franciscan Saints, and the day on which the Later Rule of St. Francis was approved. That exhibition, inspired by the Later Rule, will remain on display throughout the Christmas season. It will be curated by the Pious Union of St. Anthony of Padua in Rieti in collaboration with the Porta d’Arce and Infioritalia Associations.
These collaborative events will continue with new “colorful” initiatives throughout the year. According to the Most Reverend Vito PICCINONNA, Bishop of Rieti, they symbolize the deep and timeless friendship that bound Saints Francis and Anthony together and represent the spirit that made Francis “an exemplary witness for Anthony and so many others.”