San Francisco-Assisi, first 50 years as Sister's Cities
While in Italy, countless cities and towns are hosting representations of the historic Presepe Vivente, the Italian Community in San Francisco has its own characteristic Living Nativity, inspired by the very first one created by Saint Francis of Assisi.
Christmas arrived in The City on Saturday, December 21st, when the Knights of Saint Francis presented, a traditional the Living Nativity just in front of the iconic National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi.
The representation caught the attention of many residents and tourists, besides attracting local television and mass media, who witnessed Joseph, Mary, the infant Jesus, and the three Kings, inside an open-air barn with a donkey and an ox, accompanied by live music and singing.
This year was the fifth Living Nativity organized in North Beach, as the Knights started doing it in 2008, the year when “La Nuova Porziuncola” was also opened, a copy of small church located within the Basilica in Santa Maria degli Angeli, suburb of Assisi, where the Franciscan movement started.
L’Italo-Americano interviewed Angela Alioto, founder of The Knights of Saint Francis. “Initially the Nativity was hosted inside, in front of the chapel’s entrance,” said Alioto. “As the event is always bigger this year we had the permit to do it in the street, where our future project of the ‘Piazza Saint Francis, The Poets Plaza’ will be realized.”
Out of the two hundred and forty Knights of Saint Francis, about fifty of them were involved in the organization of the Living Nativity. Knight Bernadette Castro did the project this year, and all the actors, including the children, were members of the organization.
“All our inspiration comes from the Saint Francis of Assisi, who created the first nativity scene in the town of Grecia, Terni, in 1223,” continued Alioto. “We were forced to be out of the Nuova Porziuncola for five weeks, but finally in December we were back and this Nativity was a big success.”
“We had four different shows this year, the first one started at four o’clock in the afternoon, and we continued until nine o’clock at night. Several hundred people came to see us, and the day after, we were on all the news,” she added.
The Knights of Saint Francis are always active within the community and in the organization of events. Last November 1st and 2nd they hosted “The Singing Friar Alessandro,” the tenor voice from Assisi for a concert at The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, and later in January, 2014, they will receive a special statue of Our Lady of Fatima, that will be at parishes in the archdiocese on Jan. 3-23.
However, the most important challenge for the Knights will be the realization of the project “Piazza Saint Francis, The Poets Plaza”, a true Umbrian Piazza in the heart of North Beach, at the cross between Vallejo Street and Columbus Avenue.
“We have been working on this project of Piazza for five years, together with the our friend Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and other important promoters of the idea, and we will break ground next April, 2014.”
For further information visit the website of the Knights of Saint Francis: www.knightsofsaintfrancis.com