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I have visited Assisi twice and each time been overwhelmed by the spirit of the little town. On both occasions I was the chaplain to an Anglican group and was able to celebrate the Eucharist in one of the many chapels of the Basilica. If you’ve never been, believe me, It is an experience you will never forget.

The walk down to the Church of San Damiano has a spiritual presence that is almost palpable. On several occasions I was able to be alone and meditate along the way.

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It was interesting talking to the other pilgrims who were in the group. On each time were were thirty of us. The joy of pilgrimage is being with others and sharing one another’s experience of  God’s grace in our lives. Initially we met up at Gatwick and our English reserve was much in evidence. Gradually it began to melt and we found ourselves blending into a corporate unit. We were not all committed believers. Three  came out of curiosity. One lovely man came up to me and expressed his scepticism about God. We had several quite long conversations and I sensed that he was undergoing a battle within himself. On one  occasion I found Jim  standing alone gazing up at this crucifix in the Church of San Damiano. He didn’t see me, and I quietly left leaving him to his thoughts. We didn’t get a chance to speak again,  but I’d hazard a guess that the Lord Jesus had embraced him. The grace of God has unexpected ways into the soul’s sanctuary that is beyond our comprehension.

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This is the crucifix and it radiated a healing power which remains with me to this day. Its not a good photograph because of the dim light in the chapel. But it is so life like and somehow penetrates one’s inner soul with grace. Crucifixes have always meant much to me but this one in particular. The photo below is of San Damiano.

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Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

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Franciscan Chapel of the Anglican Friary in Hilfield Dorset.

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