It is hard to capture this experience in words. We are all taking in so much information, visiting many fascinating places, learning the realities of the political, social, economic and spiritual world of Francis and Clare.
The history, the story and the art and architecture are extraordinary. Our leaders are excellent. Our weather has been beautiful, and my first and last sounds each day are those of the beautiful birds we associate with St Francis.
This experience is an immersion in Franciscan beginnings as well as a personal journey of reflection and prayer. For some of us it is also a new fitness program!
June 4 and 5 were travel days-arriving in Assisi the late afternoon of June 5. We met the other pilgrims, participated in Orientation, participated in mass, walked into Assisi, and enjoyed dinner at our residence, Casa Papa Giovanni.
June 6 we started our day with (rooftop) morning prayer. The view of the valley below is breathtaking. We had a great lecture after breakfast about the social and political life in the world of Francis and Clare. We then went to the boyhood home of St Francis. (Cheisa Nuova). It is now a historical site. We celebrated Eucharist there in one of the chapels.
After lunch and reposo (rest) we visited the Cathedral of San Rufino. This is where Francis and Clare were baptized.
On Sunday the 7th we travelled to San Damiano, where Francis heard God's call to "rebuild my church". The place later prepared for Clare and the sisters. We celebrated the Eucharist in a chapel at San Damiano. Later in the day we visited Santa Maria Maggiore, the place where Francis tossed his garments and money on the floor renouncing his father, when Pietro demanded that Bishop Guido settle the dispute about Francis selling his father’s fabric. In the evening we shared graced moments, as a group-as one would in a retreat.
On Monday the 8th we learned more about the early stages. We visited Portiuncula-Our lady of Angels.
Francis rebuilt this small church-which became the heart of the order. Following our tour, mass and lunch we travelled to La Madelena where we experienced the ritual used for lepers leaving all behind and joining this community. It felt like a very sad funeral.
Today, Tuesday June 9 we travelled to La Verna. It was amazing. I will write more about it tomorrow.
Each day has been filled with learning and beauty and questions for reflection. We have also had a bit of time to walk the streets of Assisi. Tomorrow we will have a little more time to process it all.