This week marks the one year anniversary of my Franciscan Pilgrimage. In the midst of the perfect storm brewing off the east coast and preparing for holidays and family time I can’t help but reflect on the simplicity of Assisi and the majesty of Rome; both cities unique and wonderful in their own way.
Often I find myself remembering special moments that I experienced on my pilgrimage–bells ringing, birds chirping, mountains of fall colors that only an artist could capture. But most of all, I remember having a new experience every day as we walked the paths of Saints Francis and Clare.
I have memories that will last me for years to come and will always stay forever in my heart.
Assisi and the surrounding valleys and mountains were breathtaking. Assisi is a beautiful village nestled in the hills of Italy and is best known as the birthplace of St. Francis–patron saint of Italy and founder of the Franciscan order. I found Assisi steeped in spiritual and inspiring destinations, beautiful landscapes, and rich in history of the Church.
Each day our group of pilgrims would gather for breakfast, begin our day in prayer and prepare for our journey. I was warned before I left to be prepared for the steep hills and the physical endurance of the 5 to 7 miles we would walk each day. Nobody told me how deeply I would be moved emotionally or spiritually as we were guided through history of the men and women who walked before us.
Rome is a cosmopolitan city at its best, with its hustle and bustle, little cars and Vespa scooters everywhere! The true majesty of this visit was to the Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel. The art was simply breathtaking–Michelangelo, Rafael, frescoes, and sculptures–no photograph could make the color reflect like it does in my mind. Rome is rich in history, color and people. Although we were there for only 3 days, it will always be memorable to me. Our group of pilgrims was busy everyday, but we also had plenty of quiet time to reflect on our day, to pray and to open our hearts and heads to what God had shown to us.
A year later, I still find myself thankful for the gift of this pilgrimage. I pray that our teachers Fr. Michael and Sr. Bobbi will continue bringing other pilgrims on the same journey that I will never forget. I also pray for my fellow pilgrims. I felt so loved and accepted in this small group. We still stay in touch; because thanks to our journey together we will always be connected.
I ask all of you to pray for the Franciscan Pilgrimage program. Let them continue to enrich and transform the lives of all those who have the privilege to participate as a Franciscan pilgrim. I know I was transformed as a Christian, as a wife and as a mother to serve others in the spirit of Francis and Clare.
As they say in Assisi, Pace E Bene–Peace and all good.