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In the late summer of 1224, Francis took a small party of his closest friends to a retreat, up the slopes of Mount La Verna. There they lived in a few rough huts made from the branches of trees.
Francis felt that God was calling to him, and left the company of his friends, moving to the top of a rocky clifftop. Here he spent many hours in prayer, and only brother Leo saw him when he brought a little bread to Francis each night.
Very early on the morning of Holy Cross Day, while it was still dark, Francis had been praying.
(light fades )
Voice of Francis
O my Lord, Jesus Christ. I pray that you would grant me two blessings before I die:
The first, that I may feel in my body and my soul, so far as is possible, the sorrow that you suffered in the hour of your most bitter passion;
The second, that I may feel in my heart, as far as it is possible, that great love which you have for us, sinners.
(light, unearthly music )
When his prayer was ended, Jesus appeared to Francis in a vision, brilliant and dazzling to behold.
When this vision faded, Francis discovered, in his hands and his feet and his side, wounds like those of the crucified Christ whom he loved so dearly and -whose passion he had longed to share.
(music begins to set mood for death scene
Two years after the mark of the sacred stigmata, Francis asked to be taken to the Church he loved the most, the Porziuncula. It was here that God had spoken, and breathed new life into Francis, and he thought it fitting that it should be here that he gave up the breath of life. For he was ill, struck down with afflictions, and knew that, in a short time, he would meet with Sister Death.
(Music fades. A moment of quiet, to let the sound die away. Outer lights on. )
(Francis is carried (on a rough stretcher?) down the aisle into the Portincula. )
(Francis is laid on the ground. Around him his companions are heard, weeping, crying, sobbing. )
(Spotlight brightens on Francis, and he lifts his face, gazing in adoration, heavenward. )
(Light returns to normal. Francis raises himself up a little, almost to a sitting position, and looks at those around him, and past them to the congregation. )
I have done what was mine to do. May Christ teach you what is yours to do.
(Sinks slowly back to reclining on ground. Monk rings bell. Church bell tolls )
(Suddenly there is bright light, unearthly music sound; then we hear, in the background, the sound of larks - taped birdsong. )
At the hour of his death, the larks, whom Francis loved so dearly of all the birds, flocked in great numbers to the roof of the Church, singing their witness and praises.
When morning came, the crowd that had come together took Francis to Assisi, there to be given his final resting place.
(larks sound fades. As bearers pick up Francis, melody plays slowly (All Creatures of our God and King) )
Song; All Creatures of Our God and King
(procession sings death verse very slowly )
(some carrying candles, the funeral procession departs, carrying Francis "to Assisi", i.e. along aisle of Church to out of sight )
The great work of God, which Francis began, continued after his death. The Franciscan movement spread all over the world, carrying with it the ideals of holy poverty, simplicity and love for all God's creatures.
The Franciscan movement continues to this day, and, outside this, many others have followed in the footsteps of the little poor man from Assisi: people such as Brother Roger of Taize, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Francis is dead. But we may rejoice that the vision which God gave him is alive today!
(band fanfare to song )
Song; All Creatures of Our God and King.
(last verse, very majestic. )
Prayers: Closing Prayers and Blessings