Twenty years ago, I made the first journey to Assisi on my own. I was young, healthy and carefree imitating the life of St. Francis, poor in spirit. Alone I was, I met a lot of strangers along the road. They would have remained strangers if I completely ignored them, but I allowed divine providence to take care of me. If the fear factor entered my psyche, I suppose I would be walking the plains and the mountains as an invisible person, looking down, to protect myself in a foreign land. However, only good events happened.
Today, I sent an email to my siblings.
Ten years ago we went to Assisi destination Mt. La Verna for my 50th birthday. Without you guys, I couldn’t do it on my own. Thank you for a meaningful gift and memories.
Hope you are having fun in your pilgrimage.
Mt. La Verna completed my pilgrimage following the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. Here in this mountain, St. Francis received his stigmata. It was a sobering trip. Looking at his tattered clothing on display, I felt a lump in my throat. The woman beside me was sobbing. Her whole body was shaking.
I spent some time in that stony part of the mountain where he received the five stigmata. I can only imagine his pain and ecstasy.
Outside the walls of the monastery, I stood for a long time in silence with another visitor. Then I heard the call of the peregrine. It was a long eerie and mournful song. “Did you hear that?” I asked the visitor. He did not. I suppose it was only for my ears.
The peregrine was St. Francis companion that woke him up by the flapping of its wings and songs when it was time to pray.
The strangest thing, none of my photos in La Verna materialized. And yet the rest of the shots were intact. I have them all. Very disturbing. However, I am just as thrilled to have captured shots of cats, dogs, and birds. Without any formal knowledge of theology, it is through St. Francis I learned that God is in all things from amoeba to zootopia.
Luckily, unbeknownst to us, the bed and blessings accommodation we stayed in Assisi is across the Church where St. Francis divested himself in front of everybody to renounce materialism according to the Sisters that run the place.
Last year, it was all planned that I am to visit Assisi and La Verna after another yearly group pilgrimage. I am supposed to break away from the group in Rome and take it from there. Unfortunately, it’s not in God’s plan due to a recurrence of the mental disorder I have. It would be unwise to travel on my own. In a special way, I call this a time of grace calling me to safeguard my health.
I am home now thinking that Christmas is soon coming. Do you know that it was St. Francis that introduced this tradition and the Assisi is considered as the second Jerusalem?
When I am much better. I will continue my dream to return to Assisi and Mt. La Verna to pay homage to St. Francis.