festa-san-francescoSt. Francis was proclaimed Patron of Italy by Pope Pio XII in 1939. 

Since then throughout Italy, every October 4th the anniversary of the Holy Stigmata is celebrated.

Especially in Assisi, this anniversary has a special flare, almost embellished by delivery of oil which is used to fuel the votive lamp that burns in the crypt of St. Francis.

The significance of this ritual is strongly felt by the local inhabitants, because the oil burning in the lamp becomes a source of light and blessing, as well as guidance in the journey of Christian faith.

The center of the celebration of St. Francis Patron of Italy is the basilica which dominates the hill on which stands Assisi. The celebrations last for several days and involve the whole town, through religious and civil initiatives , awards, conferences and commemorations. The highlight is the solemn ceremony of the Transit – in the Lower Basilica – which describes the passage from life to death of Saint Francis. Every Assisi inhabitant has the olive branch that is distributed at the end of the ceremony at their homes.

It is tradition that a region comes to Assisi to offer ‘its oil’ to St. Francis. The Religious services are held in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and San Francesco. During civilian manifestations, representatives of the Italian government and the highest regional, provincial and municipal authorities participate on the basis of a predetermined shift. Parallel events include dances and folk songs.