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“Preach always, and if necessary, use words.” Pilgrimage to Assisi

“Preach always, and if necessary, use words.” Pilgrimage to Assisi

It’s funny how God has our lives come full circle sometimes. Seven years ago, when I was in the eighth grade, my choir came to Rome over Christmas break to sing not only in Rome and Vatican City, but also to take a pilgrimage and sing in Assisi. Seven years to the month later I found myself once again in Assisi. The same place where my love for Italy began when I was 13 years old would be my last trip of my semester of a lifetime.

In a lot of ways, the trip was overwhelming for me. Not only is it the end of my semester, which is upsetting enough, and not only did I get to spend the day in this incredibly holy town, but I could also picture my younger self in Assisi. I remember climbing down the hill to the bus in the sleet and snow, I remember walking through all these churches in a sea of red choir robes, and I remember how it felt to be on the most exciting trip of my life, as I once again find myself on an incredible journey. It was truly a religious experience.

The trip was, in every sense, a pilgrimage. Lead by Father Al (the liveliest priest I’ve ever had the priviledge to know) we began the day visiting the Basilica of St. Francis, built to commemorate him and to house his body. We walked through Piazza del Commune, where St. Francis stripped naked and gave himself over to Christ. In the same piazza is the home of St. Chiara (Clare). Between St. Francis and St. Chiara the entire town is a shrine to preserving every moment of their lives. We church hopped through the town, seeing relics of the saints and even praying at the cross that spoke to St. Francis (how amazing is it that it’s still in the town!) We saw the rose bushes that St. Francis jumped in to escape Satan, which now no longer grow thorns, and the doves that for years haven’t left a statue of St. Francis, next to the rose garden. It was incredible how with every turn you could feel the Holy Spirit in the presence of this little town.

That night we enjoyed a huge, hours long dinner in Orvieto (is there any other way to eat??) As dessert came out the fun continued, as Father Al and I brought out the guitars and lead the group of 30+ students, faculty, and seminarians in a Christmas sing-a-long, that we continued on the bus on the ride home. I couldn’t have pictures a better trip to wrap up my semester. The day was the epitome of everything I love about this semester: Faith, food, friends, and this incredibly community we call the John Felice Rome Center.

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