My Pilgrimage to Italy

With the celebration of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I wanted to stop to talk about my pilgrimage to Italy.  36

It started off with me just wanting to take my husband to Italy to show him where I had been when I was in high school and for us to celebrate our anniversary.  It was just going to be a trip for the two of us.  As the planning went on I realized the trip had the potential to be so much more.  I dreaded telling my husband that we would be going to church every day but when I did tell him, he simply said that if that’s what I wanted he was ok with it. Really?
Then the word pilgrimage kept coming up when the trip was talked about.  I was going on a pilgrimage but what is it?  Well a pilgrimage is simply a religious journey.  Father Colin advised us to pray in preparation for our voyage.  I never knew what a profound trip it truly would be.
It began with our amazing seats at the Papal Audience which before this trip I didn’t even know what it was.  We were so close to Pope Francis it was UNBELIEVABLE.  As I have stated, I think he is just what our church needs right now and it was such an honor to be so close.  Then we got to experience mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.  Who can say that?

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However, it wasn’t until we got to the outskirts of Assisi that I would truly be moved.  We visited the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels.  We started off with mass and then after we got to tour.  In the center of the church is Porziuncola which is where St. Francis understood his vocation and began the Franciscan Order.  It is also where St. Clare was converted and started the Order of the Poor Clares.

37St. Mary of the Angels

When I entered Porziuncola I felt a feeling come over my whole body and tears were coming out of my eyes.  I wasn’t sad and I wasn’t happy but the tears were coming.  We then went to the chapel of the Transito.  It is the cell where Francis died.  On an altar encased in glass is his rope belt which looks to have blood on it.  I could barely catch my breath in there.  I left with the same overwhelming feeling I had in the Porziuncola.  I was moved beyond words and had no clue why.

38Porziuncola

That feeling was with me the whole time we were in Assisi.  I felt a connection I couldn’t explain.  When I got home and told my mother about it she wasn’t surprised at all.  I asked why and she told me that my grandmother felt a connection with St. Francis.  I always thought my mom did too.

After being back I received a picture of Pope Francis from one of my fellow pilgrimages and that feeling was right there again.

That was part of my experienced on our pilgrimage.  I went on this journey being open to whatever would happen and I guess you could say I was touched.  I think a lot of people’s experiences with religion has to do with your openness.  When you allow yourself to be open to possibilities, the possibilities may be endless.

So this Thanksgiving I am feeling so blessed to have been given this opportunity and I hope it keeps the fire lit in me.  I wish all pilgrimages a life changing journey.  To those that I was blessed to meet on my journey I hope the fire stays lit in you also.  Thank you all for an experience of a lifetime!

Did you have a life changing experience on a pilgrimage or a story to share? Tell me about it.

copyright 2014 Sheila M Scarpulla . All rights reserved. No reproduction without written consen

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