European Pilgrimage – Day 7, Assisi

Blog Post by Julia Corcoran

The morning started with the ringing of the bells across the hillside. Gently waking up those who were sleeping. Our group had arrived in Assisi late the previous evening after a long coach journey through the Alps.

We started our day together, how we have started all our days, in prayer. This morning we were challenged in prayer about what we had learnt and what action were we going to take when we return home.

This was followed by a stroll through Assisi up to the Basilica taking in the streets and buildings. Assisi is like no town I have seen before. Consistent in its style of architecture and as I walked through it, I felt like I was walking through a film set. It is beautiful and worth going to see.

We walked up to the Basilica and joined the 10.30 Solemn Mass in the Upper Chapel. Despite the Mass being in Italian (and most of the group lacking this language) we were able to participate in Mass and appreciate the beauty of both the liturgy and its setting. I found myself struck by the paintings around the chapel, detailing St Francis’ life. It is a Basilica to visit for sure.

Post Mass, we had some time to explore Assisi for ourselves. Many of our group walked around Assisi as part of Caritas Internationale’s campaign ‘Share the journey’. CAFOD (one of the UK organisations of Caritas) are encouraging people to walk at least a mile and then are hoping to add all these miles together to be the equivalent of walking around the world to show solidarity with refugees around the world.

Others in the group went to explore the many churches of Assisi, one of the beauties of Assisi is how easy it is to walk from the Basilica of St Francis to the Basilica of St Clare. Which is St Clare’s final resting placing. Visitors to the Basilica can sit and quietly pray knowing that is what the two saints would have wished them to do. There is also the opportunity to see the crucifix that talked to St Francis.

One of the joys of spending the day in Assisi was the ability to sit in the sun and appreciate everything we have already experienced from this pilgrimage and where it has left us in both the spiritual form and the ideological form. How has these last six to seven days shaped the action I will take when I return to my usual daily life? And how will the last few days make a difference.

In the evening, we joined together once again for evening prayer. It was a joyful experience of sharing. It gave us another opportunity to reflect on our journey so far with reminders of each of the places we stopped and a chance to light a candle to remind us to take the light of the world into the world and share our experiences and the things we have learnt during these days in Europe.