Three days of festivities at the friars’ parish in Beirut, Lebanon, at the beginning of October marked the solemnity of Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Friars Minor Conventual. The Church of Saint Anthony of Padua in the district of Sin-el-Fil, was transformed with floral decorations for the five festive masses celebrated on Sunday, October 2. Being a parish church, Sunday’s masses were well attended by locals, and the community’s friars invited the Bishop of Beirut, Mons. Paul Dahdah, to preside at the 11.00 A.M. solemn mass. After lunch with Mons. Dahdah and a brief moment of rest, the friars were back at work preparing for the 6.30 P.M. mass, this time celebrated by the secretary for Beirut’s Apostolic Nunciature, Mons. Ivan Santus.
The following day, October 3, after the evening mass, the friars and lay faithful celebrated the Transitus of Saint Francis. During this time of itinerant prayer, the participants moved between various “stations” within the church where they meditated on different moments from the last hours of Francis’ life in 1226. The evening came to an end in front of the statue of Francis outside of the church, with the friars singing Salve Sancte Pater.
The festivities concluded the following day, October 4, with the two masses of the solemnity in the morning and the evening, presided over by the parish pastor and the community guardian respectively. Despite the fact that Tuesday was a work day in Lebanon, a sizable number of the lay faithful made the effort to be present, to celebrate together with the friars the Gospel life of our poor brother of Assisi.
fra Andrew Hochstedler OFMConv