Travel

Alone With Giotto and the Bones of St. Francis

This is Day 18 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I'm reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond.
05/02/2016 06:26pm ET | Updated May 3, 2017

This morning, before Assisi's Basilica of St. Francis was open to the public, we met Friar Daniel, who took us inside to be all alone with some of the greatest art of the late 13th century. It's tough to distill the history and theology of St. Francis into a TV show -- so while we filmed the walls, Friar Daniel thoughtfully reviewed my narration in the script. We clarified some points that confuse many American travelers: Franciscans are friars. To call St. Francis a monk is technically wrong. Monks are committed to a life of solitude (it's just them and God) in a monastery. The word "friar" comes from the Latin word for "brother" -- their calling is to be with the people as brothers. And they stay in a convent. Convents are not just for women, and monasteries are not just for men. Like the words "convene" and "monologue," whose roots they share, they are all about if you are social or solitary. I got my script fine-tuned with our wonderful Franciscan friar's help. And as I do every time I enjoy the guidance of Franciscan friars, I left inspired by their gentle and loving approach to life. In a hyphenated word...they are Christ-like.

This is Day 18 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I'm reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

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