As our pilgrimage group exited the bus in Assisi and I felt the breeze from the Umbrian fields below, I knew the days ahead would galvanize my senses and deepen my faith. I was smitten with the endless cobblestone streets of Assisi where the great saint was born and raised. I was moved by La Verna, the holy hillside where he received the stigmata. I was jolted and captivated by the streets of Rome where Francis sought approval for his beloved Order. The essence and the importance of the Franciscan movement struck a chord within me, and it has not quieted.
When you break bread with Franciscans, share workdays with them and listen to their stories of community, sacrifice and care for the poor, you can see the legacy of Francis in motion.
My understanding of Francis has deepened: Prior to my work at St. Anthony Messenger Press, I would have said St. Francis started a religious order, talked to birds, wore rags, died. I knew he was revered but I didn’t fully know why. Now I think of Francis more as one who started a religious order, of course, radiated holiness, gave himself wholly to God and changed the world.
To read more about this life-changing trip to Italy go here.