Never in my life did I think that I would get the opportunity to visit the city where Saint Francis of Assisi lived. I am astonished to think that I was in the same city as a great saint who was so influential to the Catholic Church. The day was even more perfect because the weather decided to cooperate with us. The sky was a clear and vibrant blue even though it was cloudy and damp the day before in Orvieto. This just goes to show how fickle Italian springtime can be. This time the odds were in our favor.
The only thing that wasn’t completely peaceful about this quiet little town was the amount of climbing involved. I was not prepared to be climbing up and down narrow streets in the mountains to get literally everywhere. Of course, they aren’t actually mountains, which my friend Olivia from Colorado was very clear to correct us on. Still, we definitely burned a lot of calories (nice, since we consume the Italian, all-carb diet). I’m just glad that my cross-country running fiance wasn’t there to run circles around me while I complained about the hills.
The first thing that we visited was the Basilica of St. Francis. It’s a huge basilica, and it is located right in the heart of Assisi. Inside, we got to visit the tomb of St. Francis. I was very moved by the site of many people from around the world kneeling to pray before St. Francis’ tomb. People touched the stone casket that holds his body and kissed the ground before it. On display were some of St. Francis’ possessions that had been preserved as relics. Among these were the brown cloak he wore, his sandals, and bandages that he wore around his wounds when he had the stigmata. I remember hearing about St. Francis since I was a kid, so it was unbelievable to see his possessions and his tomb in person. While standing in the square outside the Basilica, I tried to imagine seeing St. Francis giving away his worldly goods and collecting stones to build a church.
Next, we went to the Basilica of St. Clare. Although I don’t know as much about St. Clare, I know that she was very close to St. Francis and attended to him while he had the wounds of the stigmata. The amazing thing is that St. Clare’s body is incorruptible. We could actually see her body on display in the crypt of the Basilica.
After a delicious lunch and a confusing bus ride, we trekked all the way down to the Saint Domiano Monastery (while trying not to think about having to walk all the way back up). The monastery was really quaint and peaceful. We befriended a nun and two friars who knew a little bit of English. I bought a bracelet with the cross of St. Francis from a friar who was making us laugh by poking fun at our mid-western accents.
The most strenuous part of the trip was our walk all the way up to the castle of Assisi. We didn’t actually go in the castle, but the main purpose of the journey was to see the beautiful view of Assisi from the top. It was worth it. We all sat together in the grass and just looked at the view for a while. I really appreciate moments in life when I get to just take in the beauty around me for even just a couple minutes without stressing about classes, working, and everything else that’s going on.
Now, I am safe on the Island of Capri where six of us girls are renting an apartment for three nights. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Ciao, until next time!