Two cities, two different paces of life, two different cultures, two different types of scenery, gelato, Italian pasta, Catholic Churches, shrines, hills, hikes, security, souvenir shops, museums, and so much more. Those words can’t even begin to start summarizing what Rome and Assisi were together and separate. This will be a joint post, but there will hopefully be two different posts about the days spent in both cities. Ten days is a lot to fit into one post and I don’t want to bore or overwhelm you. And, if I’m being honest, I’m still a little overwhelmed from those 10 days.
Rome and Assisi are both very Catholic cities but are both so completely different. Rome is fast paced, busy, hustle bustle, tourism to no end, nosy locals, impatient tourists, and fantastic food. Rome is home to the Pope, artifacts over 2000 years old, many Saints, and many of the origins of the Catholic faith.
Assisi, on the other hand is home to St. Francis of Assisi. Streets are safe to walk alone, in the dark, and by dark I mean around 5pm. The shop owners are friendly and know Franciscan Students by name at the end of our four days spent in the City of Peace. The locals are welcoming, and the pace of life so much slower and relaxed. Assisi encourages one to get out in nature and experience the imagination of God. It brings out the internal aspects of faith, and Rome gives a glimpse into the vast exterior aspect of Catholicism. Rome helps one to rediscover the universality and origins of the faith, very uniquely bringing the faith alive. Shows divine intervention and the will of God at a whole new level, but for this country girl who is dreaming of lakes and farm fields, Assisi is where my heart rests.
While in Rome riding the trains, subway, and buses it didn’t sink in that I was there. I still can’t really believe that I went to Rome AND Assisi. Even after being back for a week, this reality hasn’t sunk in yet. Y’all, I got to walk and kiss holy ground. I got to touch relics of Saints. I got to see where so much history of our faith has occurred, and I can’t grasp that reality. At this point I don’t know that I ever will.
The biggest thing I learned while in Rome and Assisi was what a gift it is to be fortunate enough to be there. Just simply being able to go to that country and walk around. To be able to see friends from home, making the ocean seemingly disappear, to see a Pope that is such an icon in the world, to see so many historical sites that I’ve heard about, learned about, but now get to put my feet on and say, “I was there on November, ___ 2018.”
Our faith is such as gift and after these 10 days I treasure it even more. No one can force you to believe and no one can take away your belief, that is between you and God. It brings tears to my eyes to think about the eagerness of the 200+ college students from Franciscan to see the Pope. To think about the eagerness of all the young couples coming in their wedding dresses and suits/tuxes for a blessing from the Pope. To think about all of the young children who at that Papal Audience got kissed by the Pope, what a treasure (they don’t really understand it), what an amazing gift these children have been given.
Even more, what a gift it was to be able to go to the hometown of St. Francis of Assisi and get a glimpse of the hills he walked daily, to experience the beautiful scenery and countryside of a city he served with everything in him. To see the Churches that his very hands built so that people might have a place of refuge for their souls, so that people might not forget about God. To experience St. Clare and her “yes” to her calling to become a cloistered nun, who now lies incorrupt. It opened my eyes to how much even the tiniest amount of faith can grow into something that is only of God’s imagination. Parable of the mustard seed in action. No person could have ever imagined how much influence St. Francis would have. If it wasn’t for him and his humble “yes”, my University would not exist, I would not have been at Franciscan, and I most definitely would not have been in Rome and Assisi for 10 glorious days.
I recently read that God has so much mercy to shower down upon us, and we often only get a portion of what he WANTS to give us. We just have difficulty opening up our hearts to receive so much. And, that’s so true! When I think about how merciful he already is to me, I feel my chest get tight and hurt because I can’t imagine being able to hand much more mercy, gentleness, love.
So, I thank God every day for his divine plan because I know it’s better than anything I’ve got up my sleeve.
We are kicking off the beginning of our last month here with Thanksgiving this week and the Advent market which will begin next weekend.
Pray for me as I finish up my studies and try to find the plan for the rest of my life.
See y’all soon!