Stinky is nervous about today’s adventure, as he has two good choices and has been unable to decide which would be the best for he and Periwinkle. As he paces in front of the teleportation tunnel, he decides to tell Periwinkle the options and let her choose which she prefers.
Just as he comes to his decision, Stinky hears the familiar whoosh from the tunnel and Periwinkle tumbles out into his waiting paws. “Good morning, beautiful,” he says, and then the two tabbies spend several minutes whisker kissing and paw hugging. When they stop, Stinky knows the inevitable question is coming next.
“So, what adventure have you planned for today, Stinky?” asks Periwinkle.
“Well,” says Stinky and then takes a long pause. Periwinkle gives him a frown and replies, “Don’t tell me you haven’t planned anything?”
“No, it is just the opposite. There are two adventures to choose from, and I don’t know which we should do. I’d like you to make a choice.”
“I am not sure I like that you don’t have a set plan, but let me know the choices, and I will decide if I like one more than the other,” says Periwinkle with an exasperated tone.
Mickey Mouse Club vs. St. Francis of Assisi
“Okay, first, it is the anniversary of the first broadcast in 1955 of the Mickey Mouse Club on ABC. So we could put on our mouse ears and find out more about the Club. Our second choice would be to celebrate St. Francis of Assisi, who died on this day, October 3, in 1226. And tomorrow is his Feast Day.”
Periwinkle thinks for only a second or two and then tells Stinky, “Well, that’s a no brainer. I think it would be fun to learn about the Mickey Mouse Club, but as St. Francis is so important in the lives of animals, we must celebrate him.”
“Thanks, Periwinkle, I was leaning in that direction. So, we best hop back into the teleportation tunnel, so we can visit Italy.” The two tabbies join paws and enter the teleportation tunnel.
When they emerge, the tabbies are in the town of Assisi in Umbria, Italy. It is the birth place of St. Francis. He was born there in either 1181 or 1182 and was baptized Giovanni by his mother. His father changed the boy’s name, upon returning from a trip to France, to Francesco. His full name was Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone.
“On the hill above us is the Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi (Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi),” Stinky tells Periwinkle.
“Stinky, it’s huge and beautiful. Are we going to take a closer look?”
“Yes, indeed, but let’s jump back into the tunnel. It’s a very long walk,” says Stinky.
“The grounds look magnificent, Stinky,” exclaims Periwinkle.
Stinky agrees and tells Periwinkle, “The Basilica consists of an upper and lower church and a crypt where the remains of St. Francis are interred. Construction began in 1928 immediately after the canonization of St. Francis on July 16 of that year by Pope Gregory IX. The Basilica is built into a hill on the west side of Assisi. The hill was known as the Hill of Hell, as it once was the locale where criminals were put to death.”
Periwinkle wrinkles her nose when she hears that.
Stinky tells her, “The hill is now called the Hill of Paradise.”
“Well, that’s a lot better, as this is definitely an amazingly attractive site,” replies Periwinkle.
“St. Francis was not originally buried here, as the Basilica didn’t exist at the time of his death,” explains Stinky. “He was brought here in a procession from the Church of San Giorgio (St. George) on May 25, 1230. Today the Church of St. George is the Basilica of St. Clare of Assisi, who is the other Patron Saint of Italy. We should go check out the churches and crypt now, Periwinkle.”
“I think this is one of the most breathtaking sites we have ever visited, Stinky. I saw a sign that said it’s one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.”
Lower Church and Crypt
Stinky takes Periwinkle’s paw and leads her inside the lower church where the saint’s remains were concealed in order to prevent them from being stolen and dispersed. Stinky explains that the remains were rediscovered in 1818 beneath the floor of the Lower Church, and the crypt was rebuilt so pilgrims could visit it. Unfortunately, two earthquakes and an aftershock in September, 1967 caused the collapse of the vault and destruction of many of its original frescos.
“We are standing in the restored crypt,” Stinky informs Periwinkle.
“I don’t know how this looked before it was restored, but it certainly is stunning now. Don’t you think so, Stinky?”
“Yes, Periwinkle, I do. Let’s go visit the Upper Church now.”
“This is amazing, Stinky.”
“Periwinkle, I cannot possibly tell you and our readers everything about the Basilica, so I suggest they check out the Wikipedia site about the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.”
“Stinky, do you know how St. Francis became the Patron Saint of Animals?” asks Periwinkle.
“St. Francis of Assisi thought that all creatures, including humans, were equal in the eyes of God, and he spent a good portion of his time preaching sermons about animals. Some of his sermons were about fish, birds and rabbits. Then in 1979, Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Francis the Patron Saint of Ecologists,” Stinky tells Periwinkle. He continues, “Tomorrow on his feast day, the people of Assisi and Christians around the world will conduct Blessings of the Animals.”
“I know all about that, Stinky. Mom Sharon always takes the Friends Furever pets to get blessed.”
“I have another web-site our readers should check out Periwinkle. It is St. Francis of Assisi’s Prayers for Pets. They also can read more about Assisi and St. Francis at Britannica and National Today.”
“I know I will be checking out all those sites, Stinky.”
“I think it’s time for us to head back home, Periwinkle. Are you ready?”
“Yes, my tummy is rumbling!”
The tabbies enter their teleportation tunnel and quickly arrive back at Stinky’s House.
In the Garden
“Periwinkle, I have a great idea. Let’s head out to the garden where Mom has a statue of St. Francis. We can see if any of the critters that live on our property will take a photo with us.”
Periwinkle claps her paws together in delight and replies, “Oh yes, let’s do that. It’s a wonderful idea.”
“Oh, Stinky, look at all our friends that have joined us, a squirrel, bunny, finch, groundhog and chipmunk. Do you think we could say one of the prayers for the animals.”
“That’s a great idea Periwinkle. Should we say the one for pets. The one for animal friends is really long, and I am afraid I won’t remember all the words.”
Periwinkle agrees with Stinky, and together they recite, “Good St. Francis, you loved all of God’s creatures. To you they were your brothers and sisters. Help us to follow your example of treating every living thing with kindness. St. Francis, Patron Saint of animals, watch over my pet and keep my companion safe and healthy. Amen.”
“That was very nice. Now let’s get a snack,” says Stinky.
The tabbies retire to the catio where they have a snack, and Periwinkle visits with Stinky’s fursibs. Then it is time for Periwinkle to head home. She and Stinky say their good-byes by the tunnel and share paw hugs and whisker kisses. Then Periwinkle enters the tunnel and with a final wave and blown kiss is gone in a whoosh.
As usual, Stinky returns to the catio for a nap and dreams of his lovely Periwinkle.