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Bishop of Assisi: Pope Francis brings with him the sense of the Gospel


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday travels to Assisi. It is October 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.

Among the many stops of the Pope's intense schedule, is the so called “Renunciation Room” or “Stripping Room” which is where Francis renounced his worldly wealth and stripped himself of his rich clothing before Bishop Guido of Assisi.

Linda Bordoni spoke to the current Bishop of Assisi, Domenico Sorrentino, who confirmed that he personally wrote Pope Francis a letter inviting him to visit…

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Immediately after the Pope’s nomination in March, Bishop Domenico Sorrentino says he sent him a letter inviting him to come to Assisi. In his parcel – he reveals – he included a small book written by himself, “Complici dello Sprito” (“Accomplices of the Spirit”), which consists in a series of meditations on the life of St. Frances and on his relationship with Bishop Guido of Assisi.

Bishop Sorrentino says the Pope was interested in his writings and maybe has chosen to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis stopping off at many of the venues mentioned in the book, like the “Renunciation Room” – or “Stripping Room” which is inside the Bishop’s house and is where Francis renounced his worldly riches. It is the first time in history – the Bishop explains – that a Pope has come to this particular venue.

Bishop Sorrentino points out that although many Popes have visited Assisi in the past, this visit is different also because “he is the first Pope who comes here with the name of Francis. Pope Francis comes to see the city of Francis. We could say: ‘Francis comes home!’”

But, he says, also from the organizational perspective of the visit there are particularities. He is not coming to visit the great basilicas that are famous across the world; he is coming to a place like the Istituto Serafico, where we care for disabled people who are in need of everything. This – he says – is something that is very close to the heart of our Pope who chose the name Francis, because of his closeness to the poor and the needy. “Pope Francis comes here to see Jesus in their lives. This choice is very important to understand what is important in the visit”. Also the fact that he wants to have lunch with the poor. These are the events – he says - that provide the key to this pilgrimage.

As far as the legacy of this visit will be, Bishop Sorrentino says he is waiting: “I am in great expectation for what he will say and what he will do”. He says that his previous meetings with Pope Francis have led him to think “he will give us the concrete sense of the Gospel just as St. Francis was able to give. St Francis and the gospel are in intense relationship – St. Francis wanted to live the gospel in a literal way, Pope Francis expresses this simple meaning of the gospel for our days. I think this will be the message he will give to us”.