Bob and Mary Alice enjoyed a moment at the Trevi Fountain tonight after the farewell dinner for the Year of Faith Pilgrimage to Italy. It was another powerful day beginning with Mass at the tomb of St. Peter in the grotto of the basilica. Our guide has led pilgrimages for 20 years and never been assigned to the chapel at St. Peter’s tomb before. The blessings have been endless. After a highly entertaining presentation on the Sistine Chapel by art historian Dr. Liz Lev last night, we gazed on Michelangelo’s masterpiece in person today as well. Tomorrow is a free day, then it’s off to the airport and back to reality. But as Father Ted told us from the start, we will go home with hearts that are renewed, strengthened and different. We can’t wait to see you all! Ciao and thanks for following along!
We sat in several different places today, but all of us enjoyed a drive~by before the audience began. A thrill!
The Coliseum may be under repair, but the pilgrims were still thrilled when the buses rounded the corner to reveal this iconic structure once they arrived in the Eternal City. It was the last stop on a jam-packed day that began with a Mass in the Chapel of the Corporal in another beautiful medieval village: Orvieto. We are all marveling at the determination of the people of the Middle Ages who built these towns and cathedrals where they would be safest, perched on cliffs affording them a view of any unfriendly intruders. We stopped at two famous churches before getting to our hotel, St. Peter in Chains, featuring Michelangelo’s famous Moses, and Santa Maria Maggiore, the papal basilica visited bt Pope Francis the day after his election. There we saw the wood tradition says is a relic of the manger in Bethlehem.
Every nook and cranny of this medieval town has a reminder of the great saint who walked these streets and the devotion he inspired.
Today we are in Assisi, the incredibly beautiful medieval town that was home to the great St. Francis and is now a favorite spot for pilgrims who want to venerate both his tomb and that of his devoted follower, St. Clare.
We were incredibly blessed to have our Mass at the altar of St. Francis’ tomb with Father Ed Lohse as celebrant. He began preparing us for the experience last evening, encouraging us to be intentional and focused during the fifteen minutes we had at the altar before Mass began. During the Mass, he preached about surrender, and spoke to us about the importance of many forms of poverty, reminding us that we must even offer our weaknesses to God.
If tears are any indication, many pilgrims were deeply moved by the experience. Afterward, we followed the tradition of walking around the altar, touching each of the four tombs which surround that of St. Francis: his first four followers. We also had the chance to kneel at the back of the tomb, where it is possible to touch St. Francis’ tomb. Truly, what more could we ask for on our pilgrimage?