The Story of the San Damiano Cross
As a young man, St. Francis served in the Papal army. One night “… as he lay down to sleep with the rest of the army under the stars, Francis had a very vivid dream. He was in a hall full of armor with colored banners hanging from the alls. He heard a voice ask him, “Francis, who is it better to serve, the Master or the servant?” He answered, “The Master”. The voice then said, “Go back to Assisi and all this will be yours.” It was such a powerful dream that Francis acted on it and went back home. However, it was quite some time before he heard the voice again.
One day as he was praying in the little old church of San Damiano, the voice spoke to him again. This time it came right out of a large painted crucifix hanging on the wall. The voice said, “Francis, go repair my Church, which, as you see, is falling completely to ruin.”
“Soon after, Francis could be seen trying to rebuild the little church off San Daminao all by himself. He would go into the town to beg for food and stones. He worked cheerfully at this until he had finished.
Then he began to work on another little church dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels. When Francis finished rebuilding the chapel of Our Lady of the Angels, he began to repair a third little church. As he began to rebuild this chapel dedicated to St. Peter, whom Our Lord called “the rock” he began to understand that the Church is made up of “living stones” and that he was being called to restore it by preaching again the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone. With the wisdom he had gained in building stone by stone, he was now prepared to care for people one by one and share with them the “Good News” of the Gospel.”
Br. Jim Bronly, OFM, Capuchin