Mount La Verna

a litany of love and praise

It was on Mount La Verna in 1224 that Francis received the stigmata of Christ. God’s love was now sealed.

Francis’ own wounds were a symbol of Francis’s identification with the Poor Crucified Christ. His converted life had been about this very thing … to follow the teaching and footprints of Our Lord Jesus Christ. [The Earlier Rule. Chapter 1-1]

It was on Mount La Verna that Francis was moved to sing the mantra-like song of the lover, a litany of love and praise:

You are holy, Lord,
God alone, You
who work marvels.
You are strong,
You are grand.
You are most high.
You are the Almighty King,
You, O Holy Father,
King of heaven and earth.
You are three and one,
the Lord God of gods;
You are the Good,
every good,
the highest good,
the Lord God, living and true.
You are love, charity.
You are wisdom.
You are humility.
You are patience.
You are beauty.
You are safety.
You are rest.
You are joy and gladness.
You are our hope.
You are our justice.
You are temperance.
You are all our treasure overflowing.
You are beauty.
You are meekness.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender.
You are our strength.
You are refreshment.
You are our hope.
You are our faith.
You are our charity.
You are our total delight.
You are our eternal life,
great and wondrous Lord,
God All-Powerful,
merciful Savior!

from the OFM Vicar General

solitude passion joy

I would like to emphasize in particular three dimensions of what happened to St. Francis at La Verna, concerning this precise place which is:

1) place of silence/solitude; 2) place of the cross/passion; 3) place of the joy of the blessed.

  1. Place of silence/solitude. Francis’ life was entirely centred on “observing the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rb 1:1). In order to be ready to welcome the Lord, he took long periods that he loved to call “Lent”, times dedicated to prayer and fasting. On this mountain of La Verna, in September 1224, the Saint withdrew for one of these times of silence and solitude, of more intense prayer during which he received the stigmata. Here we find a beautiful icon of the desert, both exterior (around us) and interior (within us).
  2. Place of the Cross/Passion. Saint Bonaventure defines Francis as “man of the Gospel” (LM 13:1), who embraced the Cross of Christ at the beginning of his conversion. From that moment on he will always carry the Cross and the Passion of the Lord “giving example to others, with such clarity of certitude” thus reaching “the summit of Gospel perfection”, (LM 13:10).
  3. Place of the joy of the blessed. Celano describes Francis’ experience at the moment of the apparition, saying that: “ When the blessed servant of the most High saw these things, he was filled with the greatest awe, but could not decide what this vision meant for him. Moreover, he greatly rejoiced and was much delighted by the kind and gracious look that he saw the Seraph gave him” (1Cel 94). Here are the gifts received: joy, delight, beauty and sweetness. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 15/16) helps us to meditate on this experience of Francis.

solitude, passion, joy

19 Sept 2019 — Homily of the Vicar General for the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi