St. Francis of Assisi in VeniceBig Names
St. Francis of Assisi in Venice
On 4 October we celebrate St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Italy, not everyone knows that during his travels the saint stopped in Venice.
According to tradition, in the spring of 1220 on a Venetian vessel returning from the Orient, Francis sought a quiet place to stay in silence to pray and reflect.
He arrived on a small island, owned by the noble Venetian Jacopo Michiel, and was greeted by the singing of a flock of birds (as told by his biographer St. Bonaventure). The island is that which is called ‘San Francesco del Deserto', since in 1233 Jacopo Michiel gave the island to the Friars Minor, stating that a church dedicated to St. Francis on it had already been built.
According to another legend the saint, before he left, planted his walking stick here, which later turned into a pine tree. The tree, which stood in the garden of the convent, withered away in 1701, but a statue of St. Francis was made from its trunk, which was placed in the church. In a corner of the island one can still see a small shrine which contains the remains of the tree in the exact spot where he stood.
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