Assisi Pilgrimage Retreat
On Saturday over forty students, SLAs, priests and deacons came together to make a pilgrimage to Assisi, home of St. Francis of Assisi. The trip left early, but the group was awakened and invigorated as the bus wound its way through the Umbrian hills made green by the rainy season. The guide, JFRC alumni Anne Robichaud, utilized the bus microphone to explain the history of Umbria, of Assisi, and of St. Francis.
Upon arrival the students had a contemplative morning prayer in the Capella Santa Chiara, within the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. They remained in the deeply spiritual room and listened to Alessandro, a Franciscan friar full of love and energy, speak on the life of St. Francis. After having a guided tour of the Basilica and the Portiuncula the group stopped for lunch at the Trattoria da Elide. Facilitating the discussions were bruschette typical of Umbria, two types of pasta, and roasted pork with potatoes.
Then the group boarded the bus and ascended the hill to Assisi. They observed the views over the vast Umbrian plain, a formative perspective that must have been significant to St. Francis and his spiritual development. Next, they embarked on a guided tour of the Basilica of San Francesco, one of the birthplaces of modern art and the tomb of the great saint. Following their meal the group had mass at the altar of Santa Caterina and absorbed the message of Father Al’s homily.
Following the mass students walked through the medieval town, past Piazza del Comune with its Roman temple devoted to the Goddess Minerva, to the Basilica of Santa Chiara, where they were able to pray individually. After some free time to explore Assisi, the bus departed for Todi, where the group enjoyed a fantastic dinner at the agriturismo Casale dale Lucrezie. Father Chandler gave a wonderful blessing before course after course of traditional Umbrian dishes began arriving from the kitchen.