The taxi ride today down from Assisi to the valley allowed us to view the city on a beautiful sunny day ( not like our dreary entry ride into Assisi).
The 4 taxis took us to sites where Francis and his followers cared for lepers. We prayed in the small chapels. In Francis' time the church would have a Mass for the leper, as if they had died, before sending the leper out of the city with a personal water flask, a tunic and hood, and a personal clapper--forbidden to return. To me Francis seemed to do "service learning" with his brothers -- requiring them to serve the outcast lepers with mercy and compassion if they were to join him following the Gospel. The question for us to reflect on is who is it that we exclude in our Christian community?
It was a beautiful day. We left the walls of Assisi and went to Santa Maria degli Angeles and had Mass in the Portziuncula! Sr. Rosine was Eucharistic minister. We leaned against stones that St. Francis actually placed. This was followed by a visit to two chapels where Francis ministered to the lepers. Tonight we learned about three men who during WW II saved many Jews from the Holocaust. Both our pilgrim leaders, Jean Francois and Fr. Andre are brilliant men who share their knowledge through rich stories and authentic passion. Both Clare and Francis have become very real to me. When we are not visiting sites, reflecting or eating gelato we are getting to know our fellow pilgrims. It's all wonderful.
~ Mallie Kozy
Ok. Everyday I say is my favorite. This morning we started with a prayer service in the chapel at our hotel. We went to the basilica of San Maria del Angelos. Inside of this huge church is the portunicula. We got to have mass in the Port. Sr. Rosie got to distribute wine at mass there. This is probably the most moving service I have ever been to. When you walk over the threshold of the portunicula, you are pardoned of all your sins. On the altar is some of St Clare's hair for here is where St. Francis cut it. In the homily, Father Andre talked about the Virgin Mary. There is a beautiful picture in front of the chapel now with picture of Gabrielle telling Mary about God's plan for her. We were all given the opportunity to share our mother's name in praise of all mothers. It was amazing to watch the faces of people as they approached the port. Truly we were on holy ground. The real tavolo of St. Clare is being stored at this site for this year. After mass, most of us visited the gift shop. I know I found things for my office! I want to keep the memory of Francis always in my heart!!!
~ Alisa Smith