A participatory and intense prayer vigil, presided over by the Archbishop Claudio Maniagotook place yesterday evening at the Conventino Parish of Sant’Antonio in Catanzaro on the occasion of the presence of the Major Relic which represents the largest piece of cloth on which the blood of Saint Francis is imprinted.
Monsignor Maniago offered a touching and significant reflection to the many faithful present: “Certainly tonight the emotion is certainly great in having listened to the Word of the Lord, but also in feeling the closeness of Saint Francis because the relics, we know, they are gifts that are left to us and serve not so much to become magical instruments, but they are for us important signs that bring us back to the great reality. Tonight this very precious relic reminds us that Francis was a man of the incarnation, a man who had met Jesus, who had truly touched him in his life and whom Jesus had stripped of many useless and superficial things. A God who in concreteness had overturned his existence and who precisely in the concreteness of the flesh was the sign of his closeness and how important that compassion that characterized Francis’ love for his Lord”.
“I believe that the gift of the stigmata – continued the Archbishop – was not only a gift given to a lover like Francis of Jesus, but also an answer that the Lord gave to Francis, an answer of what was the path on which the Franciscan charism had to walk, that is, to concretely live the Christian life and live it in the image of the Lord Jesus, imitating the Lord. In this the message that Francis received, which he delivers to us with the stigmata, is truly strong”.
The Archbishop continued by reminding those present that “for Saint Francis the wounds and stigmata did not mean banal suffering, but rather compassion, that is, living the passion of Jesus and living life with passion, which also means, with the years that pass , to welcome the hard, tiring moments even of suffering which no one lacks, but which at the same time are never the last word. Saint Francis imprinted within himself the most beautiful image of Jesus, that of the crucifix; an image which speaks of love, of a great love that never tires even in the face of death on the cross which was the greatest offense that could be done to a love, that of nailing it. And instead it becomes for us the greatest gift, the sign that will accompany the people of God on the paths of salvation. It is a sign that must not only be before our eyes, but which must be imprinted in our lives”. Monsignor Maniago concluded by underlining that “the emotion of feeling Francis close to us tonight is transformed; through him, as truly through a very clear glass, we see the face of Jesus who once speaks of the faithfulness and greatness of his love. A love that he stops at nothing, not even in the face of the greatest blasphemy, the most intense hatred, the darkness. We therefore need to change internally to be able to live our lives as Christians with intensity and responsibility.”
Relics in prison
Great and moving welcome for the Major Relic of Saint Francis in the “Ugo Caridi” prison in Catanzaro, in the presence of the director, police officers, educators and employees. The relic was brought by the chaplain Don Giorgio Pilò to all the places where the detained people lived, amidst songs and prayers.
An extraordinary event that struck everyone for the intense and intense participation that emotionally involved everyone, staff and inmates, arousing a great sense of consolation and prayer which ended with the participation of a Holy Mass animated by the volunteers who provide service at the facility.