Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: Italy - St. Francis of Assisi

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Today was our last full day in beautiful Assisi. We started the morning off by visiting the Church of Santa Chiara. After analyzing paintings about the life of St. Clare, we ventured into the crypt of the Church to check out her actual body. Next, the group journeyed down Monte Subasio (the hill that Assisi sits on) to visit the Church of San Damiano. The Church itself provided excellent perspective on the environment that Francis and Clare spent their time in. On top of that, the Church is surrounded by olive tree groves, which were simply breathtaking.

            During our two and a half hour lunch break, five of us decided to make the trek up Monte Subasio to St. Francis’ Hermitage. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, which made the rather strenuous and lengthy hike enjoyable. While we did not have enough time to reach the summit, exploring the mountain’s trails and visiting the hermitage definitely made the trip up worth our while. The hermitage gives an unbelievably scenic view of the entire Umbrian valley, and the location allows one to experience perfect tranquility. It was easy for us to see how the friars who spend time there can effectively lose themselves in both nature and prayer. 
            The rest of the afternoon was spent in the library of the Basilica of San Francesco looking at manuscripts dating from as early as the 8th century. The documents were truly amazing in that most were enormously thick, handwritten books written entirely on sheepskin. From here, we took a short bus trip to St. Mary Portiuncula, which was in a sense Francis’ home Church for the better part of his life. The simplicity of the Church gave us insight into one of Francis’ most defining ideals.
            We just finished an amazing dinner with more courses than I can even count. I am about to go out and enjoy the sights and sounds of Assisi once more before we leave for Florence bright and early tomorrow morning.
Collin Smith- ‘09