Pilgrimage to Assisi and the Land of St Francis
Led by Fr Norbert Fernandes, 24th May - 29th May 2020
St Francis (1184 - 1226) believed that God is present in all living things. He taught us by example to go straight to Christ to pray, worship and ask for pardon for our sins. Francis was born in Assisi and died in the valley below, but is now buried in a tomb beneath the Lower Basilica of St Francis. After a comfortable early life following his father in the cloth trade, and then fighting in the army of Assisi against Perugia, he was captured and spent a year in prison, before becoming disillusioned with life; he roamed the countryside to decide what he wanted in life. He was praying in front of the crucifix in S. Damiano, and was called by Christ to follow him. He gave back his clothes to his father in the main square of Assisi, and gathered together a band of young missionary brothers to put his trust in Christ into practice. They chose places of retreat and prayer in locations both near to Assisi and distant from it: La Verna, in Tuscany, where Francis received the stigmata similar to Christ’s wounds on the Cross, The Holy Rieti Valley where Francis established the first live Nativity Tableau in 1223, and the Carceri (Hermitage) high up above Assisi on Mt Subasio. Here we will reflect on the beauty of nature and recite the Canticle of the Creatures. Francis unites rather than divides us, and so Assisi is ideal for an ecumenical pilgrimage, because it brings home to us what we have in common, the love of Christ. All of the stages of our pilgrimage reflect this wonderful bond between us.
Ryanair flight arrives at Perugia Airport. On arrival we meet our tour manager who will escort us to our coach and will remain with us for the duration of the tour. We transfer to our accommodation in Assisi. Lunch is at choice and the afternoon is at leisure in Assisi. Each evening’s dinner will be in the hotel. (Please note that drinks are extra for all meals unless stated)
Breakfast each morning will be in the guesthouse. This morning we have a guided tour of the Old Town as St Francis and St Clare would have known it. We visit the Chiesa Nuova (New Church) built on the site of Francis’s house and the Basilica of St Clare which now houses the Crucifix that called to Francis, and the Tomb of St Clare. After a break for lunch (at choice) we walk to the Basilica of St Francis where we have a guided tour of the twin Basilica by one of the friars. We see the frescoes attributed to Giotto in the Upper Basilica and those by Cimabue and Simone de Martini in the Lower Basilica. We also visit the Tomb of St Francis.
After breakfast we leave Assisi by coach and head south into the province of the Rieti and the area known as “The Holy Valley”. This is the area particularly associated with St Francis. We will visit the sanctuary of Poggio Bustone before continuing to Fontecolombo where Francis wrote his final Rule for the Order. Today, lunch is included at the Belvedere restaurant located in the picturesque village of Greccio. In the afternoon we will visit the Sanctuary where Francis brought home the mystery of the Incarnation by portraying a live nativity scene in 1223. Coach transfer back to Assisi will be provided.
This morning we take a twisting ride by taxi above Assisi to the peaceful Hermitage, which was a place of retreat and meditation for Francis. The taxis will wait for about forty minutes before driving down to San Damiano. All of us come together where we recite the canticle of the creatures. This is where St Francis received the message from the Crucifix to repair God’s church and where, later, St Clare founded her community. From here the taxis will take us to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli where we visit the Porziuncola, St Francis’ original tiny chapel, which marks the site where St Francis died. Lunch is at choice and the rest of the day is at leisure. Our tour manager will hand out bus tickets, so that we can return to the old town of Assisi in our own time (please note that the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels is open until 12:30pm. According to our arrival time in Santa Maria degli Angeli, we may have some time to purchase lunch before we are able to access the Basilica which re-opens at 2:30pm).
Today we travel into Tuscany and up into the mountains to the sanctuary founded by St Francis on land given to him by a local nobleman. It was here that two years before the end of his life, Francis was the first person recorded to have received the Stigmata, that final great identifying sign of the Saint’s life with that of Christ. Today’s lunch is included at La Melosa restaurant (drinks are included). In the afternoon all of us join the daily procession marking the occasion of the Stigmata. Coach transfer back to Assisi will be provided.
Please bring luggage down to the reception area. Coach transfer to Perugia Airport. Ryanair return flight to London Stansted.
This tour involves a substantial amount of walking, some of which will be over irregular surfaces such as cobblestones and badly-maintained walking areas. If everyday walking is something you find difficult, this tour may be unsuitable for you.
This itinerary is a guide and subject to change.
Single room supplement: £60
24/05/20 - 29/05/20
Ryanair scheduled flights Stansted - Perugia - Stansted. Current UK and Italy airport departure taxes. 1 piece of checked in luggage up to 20 kg. 5 night’s accommodation in shared twin-bedded rooms: Hotel San Giacomo (3 stars), Assisi, situated near to the Basilica of St Francis.http://www.hotelsangiacomoassisi.it/en/. 5 breakfasts and 5 dinners. All coaching and transfers as per the itinerary. Italian/English-speaking tour manager to accompany the group in Italy. Guided tours as per the itinerary. Entrance fees as per the itinerary. Daily Mass. ATOL and ABTA financial protection.
Travel insurance. Single room supplement at £110 for the 5 nights. Lunches. Drinks, except where indicated. Catering during the flights. Gratuities to guides, coach drivers and hotel staff. Transport within the UK. Fuel surcharges if passed on by the airline.
Terms of Payment:
To reserve your place on the tour you will need to complete a booking form and return it to Pax Travel with a deposit of £250 per person. Cheques are to be issued in favour of Pax Travel Ltd. The tour price is guaranteed for bookings Pax Travel receives by 28th August 2019. You can of course submit a booking after this date, but any bookings Pax receives after 28th August may be subject to a flight surcharge. If this arises, we would advise you before processing your booking.
The balance payment to be received by Pax Travel no later than 20th March 2020.