By: Br. Anthony Kote-Witah, Ofm Cap


I am a leper

In the valley of Rivo Torto, Assisi

Francis became a living gospel

Oh! Absolutely!

My treasurable leper’s colony,

My advance school of the gospel’s truth


Leper! My beauty! My love!

You are the gateway to embrace my Abba

The cradle of my wholesome identity and dignity

What was bitter is now sweeter

What was scary

Has now become the beauty of my embrace!


Leper’s embrace

The rejected, the outcast,

The forgotten in the jungle junkyard

In the valley of hell

But now, a desirable spotless mirror of grace


The spotlight of the world

The reservoir of wisdom and optimism

You taught me what perfect joy smell like

A model of a victim, humble servant


Leper’s embrace

In this school

Leper’s wound points to the true Calvary Tree

Where you there when they nail him on the Tree?

His wound oozing out the beauty of mercy

Just so, lepers’ sore oozed out for love

But no love was found

Rather, marginalized and spat upon

My desire for affection evaporated

To whom shall we go?


However, there appeared

A compassionate, simple friar, a man of valor

He paid deaf-ear to the snuff-whistle of the world

He embraced me with mercy and empathy

And said, lepers too were equally created

All creatures of our God and King


Leper’s colony became my club of wisdom

It bathed me with consolation, vision, and hope

A grand junction of companionship

A home of welcoming discernment

Making fraternity of an authentic brotherhood


Deep in the valley of Rivo Torto

Deeply rooted to tap from her gracious font

Their sores were gifts, comparable to Lazarus

Their wounds’ aroma captivated my soul

Liken to the Alabaska fragrance

The leper’s embrace became the bedrock

Of Francis’ fraternal Relationship


Leper’s embrace

The gentility of lepers’ voices rings the bell of heaven


The sound of their echoing bells

Indicates clearance

The road needed to be clear for someone coming to Town

Unlike the King or Queen

Or top official entrance with adorable road decoration


In my own case

That was not the dream

At my arrival, I was considerably disclaimed

Unacknowledged with hidden faces

Nose covered, spitting upon, vomiting, and doors shot

I cry out in full volume for help

Begging for sympathy to bondage my wound

From flies and oozing maggots, but none!

To whom shall I go?



Out of nowhere comes a Good Samaritan

On his journey of hope

An incredible one beautiful creature

Appeared in the scene

A beautiful soul sent on a difficult mission

He embraces my sore

Dries my wounds with mercy and joyful love

He is definitely a God’s sent

Like the savior on Calvary Tree

He came down from the mountain to Assisi

To the valley of hope

He came down to embrace us

To share the true joy of the gospel

The delight of Our Father who art in heaven.


Well then, when it was time for me to depart

A sound of heavenly bells began with/in a ballistic joy

Preparing me to embrace the heavenly jubilee


Now, I left you with the key of transformation

Because the rejected is now the capstone

Without the leper’s embrace,

There will be no Francis,

Similarly, without Francis, there will be no Assisi

But with Francis the Assisi doors of north, west,

East and south are wild open 24/7 to embrace the influx

For us all, Christians, non-Christians

The leper’s embrace became the benchmark

Of Francis’ fraternal community