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Chapal's Patron Saint - A Recent Article

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Post by SunFan on Sat Nov 15, 2014 7:00 am

With the arrival in the United States earlier this week of several manuscripts from the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, a Creighton University theology professor and specialist in St. Francis, has her own tale to tell about encountering these 700-year-old documents.

Joan Mueller, OSC, Ph.D., once held these texts -- which are leaving Italy for the first time in history and will be displayed at the United Nations and Brooklyn Borough Hall in New York -- in her own hands on a visit to Saint Francis' hometown. Mueller suspects the 19 artifacts will undergo some restorative work while in the United States. It's an opportunity of a lifetime for Francis pilgrims and devotees, she said, as the manuscripts are never displayed for the public at the Sacred Convent.

"This is a huge, huge event," Mueller said. "Go to New York now, if you want to see them. This is probably the only way that someone would have the opportunity to see these documents."

Mueller, as a scholar who has written six books on St. Francis or St. Clare of Assisi, one of Francis' first followers, was in the Sacred Convent in 2000, when she had the rare opportunity to glimpse the artifacts and hold them in her own hands, something she said was an unparalleled spiritual experience.

Mueller hopes the arrival of the manuscripts might initiate a broader discourse on St. Francis, who she said is often portrayed one-dimensionally in the popular media as the patron saint of animals. The real Francis, she said, was more of a song-and-dance man and a street preacher who galvanized the Franciscan order around not only the ideals of poverty and asceticism, but also an exuberance for mission and ministry.

The manuscripts include several poems written by St. Francis, including the saint's "Canticle of the Sun" and his "Canticle of Canticles." As Mueller explained, Francis most likely dictated these pieces as his command of written Latin tended toward the abhorrent.

The manuscripts are expected to stay in New York until shortly after the New Year, when they will return to the Sacred Convent in Assisi. About six million people annually visit the convent, where St. Francis is buried.

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