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Pilgrimage to Assisi – June 2007
A welcome return, for our parishioners, to the city of St Francis.
Assisi, set in the spectacular hills of Umbria, has a population of 25,000 of whom 6,000 live in the ancient centre. It attracts several million visitors a year. St Francis is honoured in the basilica begun on the day he was canonised in 1228 - two years after his death, and four years after he received the stigmata.
Julia writes: "Each of the pilgrims has been asked to give one sentence or line to sum up the week for them. This is very difficult as the week is very tightly packed with visits, Masses, meals, walking, etc. (Photos by Julia and Ziggi)
- It was the most perfect week. We will always remember the long walks and the beautiful churches and amazing scenery. We enjoyed the dinner parties. Everyone made us feel so welcome.
- Deeply spiritual experience: breathtaking Umbrian scenery. Organisation of tour – general management of pilgrims day by day – faultless.
- A wonderful chance to renew faith and enjoy companionship with old and new friends.
- Wonderful week. Returned refreshed in mind and body.
- Prayerful, well organised pilgrimage. United group. Enjoyed religious and art experience.
- A very prayerful and uplifting experience and fun too!
- Enjoyed the company and companionship and the Masses (all of them.)
- Beautiful views everywhere together with the spirit and peace of St. Francis – unique. A truly blessed pilgrimage.
- Another delightful pilgrimage in the steps of St. Francis. We very much enjoyed the outings to Perugia, Gubbio, Montefalco and the other towns of interest. A great opportunity to relax and enjoy Italian café life.
- As well as highlights such as Mass at the Carceri Hermitage on Mount Subasio, it was a great occasion for getting to know each other better, and making real friendships.
- Found St. Francis, and Assisi, again!
- Views spectacular! Villages truly amazing – a step back in time, into another world! What an experience to celebrate Mass in such holy places as a group, with our own priest. And to hear the choir’s voices in the Basilica – what an unexpected privilege and pleasure.
- The inspiration of Francis and Clare and the beauty of the Umbrian countryside combined to make a memorable week. Plenty of pasta, vino and ice cream helped as well! Even the rain could not dampen our spirits!
- A challenging week physically, spiritually and socially (in a good way!) Much enjoyment, laughter and shared experiences to reflect on. Inspirational homilies in extraordinary places at daily Mass.
Francis was born in 1181 of a well-to-do family and became a soldier, but with a lifelong regard for the poor. He was never ordained priest, but was vowed to poverty, and founded the Franciscan order which later became associated with St Clare of the Poor Clares.
If Francis is best known for his founding of the Franciscans, and his love of animals, he also took his pastoral mission into battle. Once, during a war, he showed courage in visiting a hostile Muslim sultan, seeking to convert him. He perhaps foretold the need for rapprochement between the faiths, and won the sultan's respect, who acknowledged the strength of his Christian faith, while never giving up his own.
Francis' death at the age of 45 came after a life of extraordinary achievement, self sacrifice and pastoral vigour. His canonisation was swift and the devotion to his ideals remains strong worldwide. See a fuller account of his remarkable life in New Advent.