Friday, May 30, 2008

Francis, Greccio and Our Pilgrims

Yesterday was a great day. I received a brief e-mail from Kathleen Lotter stating they had arrived in Rome. Today Kathleen and the other pilgrims will experience the Vatican but yesterday they experienced Christmas!

After living, worshipping and exploring Assisi the pilgrims went to the Reita Valley. This is a site of multiple Franciscan hermitages. However, the most famous is Greccio. It is here that Francis recreated the living nativity scene during a midnight Christmas Mass. Francis popularized this custom which is still very popular today.

So they visited another hermitage on the side of a mountain. I am sure they wondered how it was ever built. They walked past the dorms the friars stayed in, most only big enough for a cot. They were reminded of the mountain spirituality that is so central to Franciscan Spirituality.

So they explored this beautiful sanctuary, had a service there and then the trip did not end. They went to another sanctuary, La Foresta for an authentic Italian Christmas Dinner, their prayers yesterday were Christmas Carols. Outside of the sanctuary was Mundo X which is an agrarian Franciscan drug rehab center. They were among Franciscans working with today’s lepers.

I know they had a wonderful time that will have a lasting effect on all of their Christmases. From this moment on they will focus on the humility of Christmas and when they look at their little manger sets under their Christmas trees or on their mantles they will remember Greccio and Francis.

Assisi Pilgrimage: Walking in Faith With Francis and Clare
(includes a scene with Father Murray Bodo, OFM)

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