Pilgrimage to Assisi to Commemorate the Feast of the Stigmata
Travelling to Italy. Led by Bishop Martin Shaw, 14th Sep - 20th Sep 2017
The pilgrimage to Assisi does not follow the details of Saint Francis' life. These can be read and studied at any time. It is designed to offer experience, challenge and reflection; as well as delight in each other’s company, and of course, restoration.
Take time over meals and conversations and discover favourite places to pray and be silent. Notice carefully what you see and hear. In no way is the pilgrimage definitive. Four key factors in Saint Francis' own experience you can share in directly:
1. The beauty of Assisi itself and its creative and troubled history that deepens the understanding of Europe’s present challenges.
2. The power of the Crucifix that spoke to Saint Francis' heart directly about the demands of Love.
3. How simplicity challenged and continues to challenge (as well as delights) men and women throughout the world.
4. Christianity is about joy and living as fully in each moment as possible.
DAY ONE: Bristol to Rome
We fly from Bristol on a scheduled direct flight to Rome. On arrival in Rome, we transfer by coach to Assisi where we check into our guesthouse, the Casa S. Brigida, situated just outside the town walls, for a 6-night stay. Dinner will be in the guesthouse on each evening of our stay.
DAY TWO: Assisi
We walk through the streets of Assisi as Saints Francis and Clare would have known it. Visit the Cathedral of San Ruffino, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Chiesa Nuova (New Church), built on the site of Francis' house. Afterwards we visit St Clare's Basilica, which now houses the Crucifix that called to Francis. This afternoon there will be a guided tour of the Basilica of St Francis by one of the resident friars.
DAY THREE: Greccio and the Rieti Valley
After breakfast we leave Assisi by coach and head south into the province of Rieti and the area called ‘Holy Valley’ because of the particular attention that Saint Francis paid to this particular region. We stop mid-morning at the sanctuary of Greccio. This is where Francis brought home the mystery of the Incarnation by portraying a live nativity scene in 1223. We also see the grotto where this occurred and the early community buildings of St Francis and St Bonaventure’s time. We enjoy a lunch in the picturesque Belvedere Restaurant in the village of Greccio, before returning to Assisi via Fonte Colombo, where Francis wrote the rule of the Franciscan Order.
DAY FOUR: La Verna
Today we travel by coach into Tuscany, past the birthplace of Michelangelo and up into the mountains to a sanctuary founded by Saint Francis on land which was 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. There will be time at the Sanctuary in the morning, including the celebration of the Eucharist. After lunch at a local restaurant, La Melosa, we have some time at leisure at the Sanctuary before returning to Assisi in the late afternoon
DAY FIVE: Hermitage - San Damiano - Santa Maria degli Angeli
This morning we take a twisting taxi ride to the Hermitage, situated high above Assisi on Monte Subasio, which was a place of retreat and meditation for Saint Francis and his followers, and is still an oasis of quiet today. The taxis wait for about forty minutes here before driving down to San Damiano below Assisi, which was where St Francis recieved the message from the Crucifix to repair God’s church and where, later, Saint Clare spent her cloistered life and founded her community. Afterwards we drive down into the valley to visit the Basilica of S. Maria Degli Angeli to see the Porzincula, the chapel that St Francis restored, and which became the centre of his first community and where he died. The rest of the day is at leisure, and you will be given a bus ticket so that you can return up to the old town of Assisi in your own time.
DAY SIX: Lake Trasimeno
Today we travel to Lake Trasimeno, where we take a boat ride from Passignano to the picturesque island of Isola Maggiore, where Saint Francis spent the forty days of Lent on his own in 1213. Visit the grotto beside the shore near to where he landed, and the church which is dedicated to him. We celebrate Eucharist on the shore of the lake. There will be the opportunity of a fish lunch in a local restaurant (at £18 per person) and some time for private exploration before the return boat ride to Passignano and coach transfer back to Assisi.
DAY SEVEN: Rome - Bristol
After breakfast, transfer to Rome Airport for our return flight to Bristol.
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.