Walking in the Footsteps of St. Francis

Maria Hayes Around the Province

Those who wish to deepen their experience with the Franciscan tradition will have the opportunity to explore the roots of their faith in the heart of Italy this year. Two parishes are offering pilgrimages in Europe in the fall.

Mark Reamer, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh, N.C., will lead a trip that departs Aug. 31 and returns to Raleigh on Sept. 12. Pilgrims will be able to reflect on Franciscan tradition, mission and contemplation while also experiencing Italian culture.

After landing in Rome, the group will head to Assisi via Greccio, where St. Francis inspired the creation of the Christmas crèche. During their four-night stay in Assisi, pilgrims will celebrate more than 800 years of the Franciscan tradition by visiting places that were special to Saints Francis and Clare, from the baptismal font in the Cathedral of Assisi, to the tombs in the basilicas that bear their names.

Just as the early friars did, the group will travel from Assisi to Florence via La Verna, where St. Francis received the stigmata. Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, was also the first mission of the friars outside of Assisi. During their stay, pilgrims will pray at the Franciscan basilica of Santa Croce and take sojourns to surrounding environs, including Siena. The trip will conclude with time for contemplation, prayer and relaxation in the lake region of northern Italy. Deposits of $400 per person are being accepted on a first come, first served basis beginning Jan. 6. To obtain a brochure or submit a deposit, contact Joan Port in the parish office at 919-847-8205 ext. 249.

George Corrigan, OFM, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Fla., is leading a journey to historic Italian sites from Sept. 28 to Oct. 10. The pilgrimage will include visits to Florence, Assisi and Rome.

Pilgrims will be present in Assisi on the feast of St. Francis and will take part in the festivities honoring the founder of the Franciscan movement. They will also attend an audience with Pope Francis in Rome and celebrate Mass at several significant locations, including the tomb of St. Francis, Santa Croce, and the tomb of St. Peter in Rome.

Space is limited and deposits of $400 per person are being accepted immediately. For more information, contact Pam Ferron at 813-229-1595.

 Compiled by Maria Hayes