We begin in Assisi: You’ve already started by preparing and coming away from your daily hustle and bustle.  Arriving at the Fiumicino Airport, Deborah meets you at the gate as you exit customs with your luggage—you walk right through the “nothing to declare” line.  We may have a quick morning coffee, tea, and brioche, in Italy called a cornetto. Saying good-bye to busy Rome for now, we cross to our waiting private motor coach.  We head out for the little town in central Italy where St. Francis of Assisi was born. As we drive north and east, you might nap after your journey or join in discussing a bit of regional history as we look out over the countryside of Lazio and Umbria.

Link to Inside the Vatican Easter Pilgrimage

Sunset, Basilica of St. Francis, visited during Inside the Vatican Easter Pilgrimage

About two hours later, we pull into the walled city of Assisi. Breathe deeply of the fresh air in southern Tuscany, as our minds and bodies relax in this City of Peace.  Assisi is a small medieval town perched on a hill in Umbria, in the heart of Italy. It is the city of St. Francis and is one of the prettiest and most peaceful cities in the world. You are escorted to your guest room at the St. Anthony’s Guesthouse, with its beautiful outside gardens, which has been run by our friend, Sister Sue, for almost 20 years. She and the other Sisters are waiting to greet you and welcome you to their home in Assisi.  

After a quick lunch we rest for several hours, then attend a private Mass. Dinner is early and delicious at one of our favorite restaurants in Assisi.  Our first day ends before dark so we can begin our spiritual preparations well rested – and well fed!

Tuesday of Holy Week: We wake refreshed, enjoy breakfast, and attend morning Mass at the tomb of St. Francis.

Link to Inside the Vatican Easter Pilgrimage

Mass, Inside the Vatican Easter Pilgrimage

After Mass we are guided through the Basilica of St. Francis, considering how his life was a continual seeking and following of God’s will and how we can emulate him.  Afterwards, free time permits exploration or shopping on your own; then we refresh with a delightful lunch overlooking the Basilica.  After lunch is additional free time: for rest, prayer, or further exploration of the city as you choose.

As dusk approaches, we gather in a private dining room in the St. Anthony’s Guesthouse. Large windows on all sides give us beautiful views of Assisi as the sun sets. With Dr. Robert Moynihan, we read, contemplate, and discuss the rich readings for Easter Vigil Mass.

Afterwards we visit the Basilica of St. Clare, perhaps taking a quiet moment to gaze upon the same crucifix that spoke to St. Francis.  We end the day sharing local wine and food at a favorite restaurant in the Piazza del Commune.

link to Inside the Vatican Easter Pilgrimage

Brother Alessandro greets pilgrims, Inside the Vatican Easter Pilgrimage

Wednesday of Holy Week: We begin with Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels. Brother Alessandro welcomes us with his beautiful smile, joined perhaps to a delightful song. After Mass we walk through historic Assisi, visiting several important churches along the way, including San Rufino in which both St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized.

Again, we enjoy a meal in the piazza; afterwards visiting with the Bishop of Assisi, if available, at his residence. After dinner at another favorite restaurant, we tuck in for the evening, perhaps planning a morning visit to one of the churches for prayer and reflection. 

Thursday of Holy Week: This morning is for rest, prayer, reflection, and exploration on your own before leaving after lunch.  Maybe you will walk the cobbled streets, or pray in one of the churches, or find a quiet place to contemplate nature’s beauty.  Rested and relaxed, you are experiencing spiritual renewal and are open to a deeper, unifying experience at Easter.  It is the Triduum, and we depart for Norcia …