Tuesday, March 21, 2017

St. Francis Pilgrimage: October 8-18, 2017

    Come with me and walk in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi!  One of the great loves of my life is St. Francis – and the places he graced.  October is a beautiful time to be in Italy – and to ponder together the significance of this greatest of saints.  I have been obsessed with St. Francis, and have written on his impact on my life, and the lives of others in Conversations with St. Francis.

     We fly direct, Charlotte to Rome, where we’ll stay at the Cicerone Hotel, in a great location.  We will see San Francesco in Ripa, which houses the stone cell where Francis slept when he visited Rome, which has recently been restored - and is stunning.

We’ll visit the great medieval Lateran church where he spoke with Pope Innocent.  We will have a special entry to the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s – which is especially moving now, with Pope Francis, who deliberately took St. Francis’s name in imitation of his life.  Some other fascinating places in Rome I’ll show you are the Catacombs, where early Christians huddled to worship, and some terrific restaurants and Roman era sites.

     Then we will drive to Greccio, where Francis created the world’s first ever manger scene.  The fabulous view over the Rieti valley is unforgettable, as is the monastery’s collection of manger scenes from all over the world.

     Then we arrive in beautiful Assisi, where we’ll stay right in the center of town in the Hotel De Priori – an unbeatable location.  In Assisi, we will see where Francis was born, San Damiano where he heard God’s call, Santa Chiara which houses the cross the spoke to him (and the incorruptible remains of his friend St. Clare), San Rufino where he preached and was baptized, the basilica where he is buried (and which enjoys Giotto’s fresoes depicting his life), Santa Maria degli Angeli, the small church he rebuilt with his own hands that became the focal point of the growth of the Franciscan movement, and more.

     Then we will sadly exit Assisi and head into Tuscany to visit Cortona and Arezzo, marvelous Franciscan sites, before an afternoon worship service at La Verna, where Francis prayed and then received the holy stigmata.  Then to Florence – where we will stay at the Hotel Mediterraneo, visit the Duomo, the Baptistery, and more.

     Finally, after leaving Florence, we’ll stop in Ravenna to see the most amazing fourth century mosaics, some of the most stunning early Christian art, and stay at Padua, the home of Francis’s great friend, St. Anthony.  Finally we will stop in Venice and return home to Charlotte.

     Trust me: this is the trip of a lifetime!  Come with us.  The cost is just $3750 per person, which is surprisingly affordable for this kind of trip.  Includes airfare, accommodations, ground transportation, entry fees, and some but not all meals.  $300 when you register; the rest later.  Deadline = July 15, but we might fill up sooner.  You can inquire without paying...  Email me if you’re interested.