On the Trail of Gabriel’s Rapture, Part 1: Assisi

This year I had the opportunity to go to Assisi again, St. Francis’s hometown. This is a place important to me and my family and the fact that pivotal scenes of Gabriel’s Rapture are set in Assisi made the city even more special to me. Sometimes all we need is a bit of peace, away from the hectic everyday life, and Assisi is the right place to find the quietness and peacefulness our soul longs for.

You all know by now I’m a huge lover of the Gabriel’s Inferno series and Sylvain Reynard’s writing ( I know, this is actually an understatement) and those of you who’ve read the books know that St. Francis and the very city of Assisi play an instrumental role in the story and in the development of Gabriel and Julia’s relationship. I couldn’t leave The Professor home, could I?? Of course not! So after showing him that I had packed my heels and I was bringing them to Assisi (where, for the record, it’s difficult to walk in heels ( at least for me)  but, hey, The Professor wanted me to bring them, so who am I to refuse? 😉 ) we hopped in the car and we made our way to the beautiful and peaceful Assisi…

After 5 hours and 30 minutes drive we arrived…

You feel the peaceful atmosphere of Assisi already at the gates of the city. It’s as if you find yourself thrown into another completely different world, one I’d gladly live in…. “There was something in the air of Assisi that allowed him to sleep peacefully.” – Gabriel’s Rapture, chapter 35

The days I went there were really hot and since Assisi is all built-in stone, we felt the heat quite a lot. If you go there during summer make sure to have a cap handy. The Professor was wearing  his beret 😉

The streets of the city are magical, with all their narrow passages and quite corners. I could imagine Professor Gabriel walking the same very alleys while heading for the Basilica…

 

” He rose early the next morning and made his way to the Basilica of St. Francis. It was a place of pilgrimage for persons of all faiths, if only for its medieval frescoes and the peaceful atmosphere that pervaded it. ” – Gabriel’s Rapture, chapter 35

The Basilica is truly amazing. No words are apt to describe its magnificence. It comprises two churches, the Basilica Superiore ( Upper Church) and Basilica Inferiore ( Lower Church). It leaves you speechless…And this is how the Basilica looks like at night:

In front of it there’s a garden with the lettering PAX ( Peace) and a statue of St. Francis on a horse, when he was still a knight and was returning defeated from the war against the city of Perugia. I don’t know why but this statue always moves me. Probably because it could represent the moment when we are faced with our own failings and we have to decide what to do with them. Perhaps Professor Gabriel stopped in front of it to gaze at it for a few moments and muse upon his life and his Julia…

The frescoes by Giotto that are in the Basilica show episodes of St. Francis’s life and you could stare at them for hours. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to snap pictures( the guards there can be pretty convincing…) but here’s a picture of the  Upper Church that can be found on the web :

Wonderful, isn’t it? The first night we were there, a concert  a cappella was held  inside and I had chills throughout…

My favorite fresco represents St. Francis preaching to the birds :

I wonder which is Professor Gabriel’s favorite one ? Maybe we could find out in the 3rd book? ( *hint to SR* ) 😉 Or maybe The Professor revealed it to his neighbor?? Hmmm… ( coughSIRcough)

” Despite the crowd of tourists and pilgrims, it was easy to pick her out, and so he found himself descending to the Basilica Inferiore…” – Gabriel’s Inferno, chapter 35

I was able to  sneak a picture of this sign that shows the way to the Lower Church. But don’t tell the guards… shhhh 😉

I like imagining he’s Professor Gabriel descending to the Lower Church…

The most moving part of visiting the Basilica is going down to the crypt of St. Francis. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit there several times last week and I have no words to express the feelings I had while in front of the tomb. It was a very touching experience. Those of you who’ve read Gabriel’s Rapture know what happens in the crypt… Those scenes belong to my favorite ones and I’m sure everyone who reads them feels something while thinking about them and the truths they contain.

“The room was small and primitive, a studied contrast to the wide-open and elaborately frescoed upper Basilica. Gabriel was not alone in finding that the simplicity that was St. Francis’s life and mission was more accurately reflected in the unassuming tomb.”- Gabriel’s Rapture, chapter 35

Besides sitting on the pews, pilgrims and tourists can go round the tomb and touch it…Needless to say, it’s all very moving.

When you exit the Lower Church you find yourself in the beautiful and magnificent colonnade where you feel dwarfed by the architecture itself( in a good way 😉 ) Assisi is truly a city worth visiting, not only for her beauty but also for the peace and quiet we can find there. I’m sharing also some pictures of the Piazza del Comune, la Rocca Maggiore and the Church of St. Clare, all places Professor Gabriel might have been to.

I leave you with this picture of the Archangel Gabriel that I particularly like

When I look at this picture, I like to think of our Professor Gabriel… the magnet for sin with the name of an angel, the magnet for sin who seeks forgiveness and redemption. A man who through Julia’s love  and his repentance becomes an angel to our eyes…

Elena

My Book Boyfriend: Andrew Hayes…

It’s been a while since I did a My Book Boyfriend post, but while I was busy You Tubing David Gandy on Saturday… for a future post… I happened to come across a video of Beiron Andersson, and he just screamed Andrew Hayes to me. Andrew is from Grave Refrain by Sarah M. Glover, and he just happens to be the newest edition to my fantasy boyfriends.

Let’s take a look at Beiron now…

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