On 16 November, 2013, 25 students went with Father Al, Father Bohr, two seminarians from the North American College, and SLAs Jenny and Mitch on a day-long pilgrimage retreat to Assisi, Umbria. The trip was meant to give students the opportunity to reflect upon their spirituality in a place that is the home of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare.
The first stop of the trip was the town of Assisi, which houses the Basilica di San Francesco and the Cattedrale di Santa Chiara. Students began their day in Assisi with a mass in a chapel of the basilica. After that, they moved on to experience a historical tour of the basilica and hear stories of Saint Francis’ humble life of poverty. After a brief break to explore the town of Assisi, the students went on to visit and pray in the churches of San Rufino and Santa Chiara, while reflecting upon the examples of faith provided by Saint Francis and Saint Clare. They also had the chance to see the crucifix in the Cattedrale di Santa Chiara that spoke out to Saint Francis and told him to “rebuild God’s Church.” Participating in group prayer in a place that has such significance in the Catholic faith was inspiring for all of the students and they left Assisi feeling deeply moved.
Late in the afternoon, the students left Assisi to visit the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. They visited the porziuncola inside where Saint Francis considered himself at home and spent much of his time praying. Further they visited the place where he performed a miracle in the rose garden and where he eventually died. The students found the physical reminders of Saint Francis’ life helpful in comprehending the importance of Saint Francis’ way of serving others and living in Christ’s image.
They ended the day sitting for a meal together in a nearby Umbrian agriturismo. Here, they had the chance to try local foods, enjoy each other’s company, and discuss the powerful day they had just lived. Each student left with a full stomach, but more importantly, with a better spiritual understanding and knowledge of Saint Francis’ life.