Pace e Bene - Peace and Blessings
The quiet friendliness of the people, the serenity of the forests, the calm of the lakes - the abiding spirit of Saint Francis evident in the people and nature. Walking the paths of Saint Francis at Fonte Colombo - sitting in Saint Francis' cave.
Fonte Colombo - St Francis Writes Rule
"Deep in the Rieti Forest"
You are high in St Francis' forest here, with a hand laid stone passageway from the top Chapel down to small individual structures. Fonte Colombo lies some 5 kilometres from Rieti.
Here you truly have a sense of walking in the steps of St Francis - more so than the vastness of Assisi - here you have the secluded little structures and the stone passageway leading down to each - indeed, he walked here.
It marks the place where Francis wrote the Later Rule of 1223, confirmed by Pope Honorius III on 29 November. The name Fonte Colombo derives from the latin "fons columbarum" (the fountain of doves). Fontecolombo was consecrated in 1450 by Cardinal Nicolò di Cusa. It is dedicated to St. Francis and St. Bernardine of Siena. The original nucleus of Fonte Colombo includes the hermitage, in which Francis underwent the painful operation when he had his temples cauterised in 1225.
Other holy places include the chapel of St. Michael and the grotto of Brother Leo.
"Leaving the Chapel - the walk down the stone path"
It was here in 1226 in this small house on the left next to the convent, that doctors cauterized Francis's eyes, trying to effect a cure for his glaucoma, and Francis asked "Brother Fire" to be gentle. The brothers ran away at the gruesome sight, but Francis said he felt no pain.
"Altar with wall frescos"
Further down there is the chapel of Santa Maria Maddalena, which is the original chapel in which Francis and brother Leo prayed. On the side of the altar one can find the TAU painted on the wall and in the window. The letter T is a biblical sign of salvation and, after Christ's death, represented the crucifixion. This is the chapel that Francis built with his own hands.
"The cave along the downward stone path"
The Sacro Speco is a kind of cave or crevice in the rock, and it marks the place in which Francis retreated in solitude and prayer in order to write the Later Rule. This is the cave where Brother Leo spent much time. Beside the cave is the stump of a tree where Jesus is said to have appeared to Francis and where Francis fasted for forty days and completed the Rule.
"Lower stone path"
Further down the path - below the cave to the Lower altar. It is certain that Saint Francis walked this path often.
"Upper Chapel interior"
All of the commercialism so prevalent at Assisi is conspicuous in its absence from Fonte Colombo. There is a small shop by the chapel where you can purchase Franciscan items - mostly a wonderful selection of books.
Courtyard garden at Fonte Colombo upper chapel