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Saturday Photo Hunt: KINDNESS

December 24th, 2012 (09:54 am)

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I didn't have time to post on the weekend, but the theme of the Saturday Photo Hunt was KINDNESS. This was a hard one, but I finally settled on this shot of a plaque on the side of a building in Assisi, in the Umbria region of Italy. My paternal grandfather's family came from this area, which explains why most of the Petrini men have Francis as their first or middle name, after St. Francis of Assisi.
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I had wanted to visit Italy all my life, and especially to see Assisi. My mother's family also immigrated from Italy, so I am 100% Italian American. And I felt a deep sense of connection to the country from the time the time the plane touched down. In Assisi that sense was especially strong.

My first morning in this beautiful hill town, I took an early walk through the winding streets and hidden piazzas, photographing the peach-colored light of the sunrise on Medieval stone walls. I noticed that many of the houses and stores have plaques set into their sides. Some are purely decorative. Others bear Medieval family crests, historical references, or religious scenes. The Virgin Mary is popular, but in this town, St. Francis imagery predominates.

I am not a religious person, but I've always had a fondness for St. Francis, who became disillusioned with the materialism and elitism of his upper-class society, cast off his worldly goods, and began preaching simplicity, humility, love, and kindness. Francis is especially remembered for his KINDNESS to animals, and many of the scenes displayed throughout the town depict him ministering to them. This colorful ceramic plaque was my favorite. It illustrates the incident of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio.

An especially fierce wolf was terrorizing the nearby town of Gubbio. It had devoured many of the townspeople's sheep, as well as a shepherding family and several guards who had been sent to kill the wolf. The mayor called in St. Francis, who had a reputation for being able to tame wild animals. The frightened, vengeful mayor thought Francis could calm the wolf so as to approach close enough to kill it, or to capture the wolf and send it to Gubbio's hated rival town, Spoletto.

After prayer and contemplation, Francis set out to find the wolf. When he did, he treated the wolf with kindness instead of anger. He spoke to the wolf, explained the townspeople's dilemma, and listened to the wolf's explanation. Hours later, he walked into the center of town, the wolf trotting by his side. Francis explained the deal they had struck. The townspeople would stop trying to kill the wolf and instead provide him with food. In return, the wolf apologized, agreed to stop attacking people and stalking their livestock, and would become Gubbio's protector. From that day forward, the people treated Brother Wolf with kindness, and Brother Wolf defended the town of Gubbio.

This last photo isn't part of the Photo Hunt, but I can't resist adding a shot of gorgeous Assisi.

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