Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Perugia or Bust
Today we set off to explore Perugia. I told the brothers that part of being on a pilgrimage is to accept whatever happens as being part of the pilgrimage. I told them about how in the examples of other people on pilgrimage learned to think of all the good and difficult things that happened as part of the pilgrimage. A man bought us all coffees at the Assisi train station--a first espresso for most of us. This we reckoned as a blessing. We spent several chunks of time (I won't say how long) wandering around hoping to find where we were going: part of the pilgrimage. St. Francis was incarcerated in Perugia after the men of Assisi lost a battle to the men of Perugia. It was during his convalescence that he received his call (or rather it was during that period of his life he wandered over to San Damiano and prayed before the crucifix there). So Perugia is an important place to think about dreams of worldly glory and what God might do about them. We explored the churches and the museum, stopping to pray at a little church dedicated to St. Mary of the Light, a place built after a barber, losing badly at cards, swore profanely and a nearby statue of the Blessed Virgin reportedly closed her eyes in disapproval. She kept her eyes closed for four days. It is a very beautiful place to pray in, and we knelt there before the Blessed Sacrament. It is a great blessing to pray with other people.
One of the things we have been talking about is how everywhere we go we meet people from all over the world. We were resting the other day near some nuns. I heard them speaking English and asked where they were from. A sister replied: "America, India and Germany." Br. Ezekiel commented: "St. Francis is for everybody!" Today we met an Englishman we'd met Sunday in Church in Assisi, and he very excitedly introduced us to his companions: "Three from Solomon Islands, one from Papua New Guinea and an American!"
One of the things I love about traveling with these brothers is their good humor in nearly all situations. They are especially playful. After visiting San 'Angelo Oratory we came out of the church to find two girls playing with their hula hoops. Their faces lit up with smiles and we immediately got them to have their picture taken with us.