Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Student Franciscan Pilgrims: Day Eleven

Well, this is the students last full day in Italy. They will get up early and get on a bus. They will leave Umbria for the day and travel north to Tuscany. Their destination is La Verna. This is the mountain hermitage that Francis actually owned. It was a gift to him that he kept for his friars. Francis visited the mountain at least six times.

This is a land of trees, cliffs, caves and churches. They will see magnificent porcelains, they will see relics and they will spend time with friars.

The pilgrims will climb down to the caves the early friars used as shelters will praying. They will climb to the top of Mount La Verna. In between, on the side of the mountain they will see stautes for prayer and old stone huts that served as the home to saints.

Santuario della Verna Italy

The pilgrims will spend time at the cave in which Francis slept. They will go to St. Bonaventure’s chapel. It is here that he wrote The Souls Journey into God. The alter is unique with a seraphic crucifix. They will be where many other early Franciscans stayed.

However, the highlight of the trip is the stigmata Chapel. It is here that Francis became the first saint to receive the stigmata. The pilgrims will leave the church, wall down the hallway, in procession with the friars and participate in a prayer service at this holy site.

La Verna

The pilgrims will look down the cliff to the valley far, far below. It is from this point that Pope John Paul II blessed the crowd below. Everywhere they will feel the lives of the saints touch them.
Finally the students will head back to Assisi. They will have their final prayer service together. Some will visit the streets of Assisi for one last time. Some will stay up late talking to new friends. All will be excited to be home but sad to leave such a special place.

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