CATHOLIC WOMEN EXPLORE THE WOMEN SAINTS OF ITALY
by Joan Lewis
I got to Assisi yesterday in mid-afternoon and had some time to get settled into my hotel and go out to buy a jacket or heavy sweater because the weather was drastically different than the hot, sunny weather in Rome – much cooler with gray, cloudy skies and a promise of rain – which we got today as you will see by the photos.
Dinner with the women of WINE (Women In the New Evangelization) was at the wonderful Enoteca Mazzini just across from the hotel I am staying at, Hotel dei Priori. about a block off of Assisi’s main square. This was my first chance to meet some of the amazing women who have joined this pilgrimage - women I met again for this morning’s visit to the basilicas of Saint Clare and Saint Francis and women I want to get to know better in the coming two days as we visit St. Catherine and Siena and environs and then Wednesday, on our way to Rome, to see Saint Rita of Cascia.
Outside the church built over the home where St. Francis was born and lived for years
Statues of the parents of St. Francis:
Because of my Cracow delay I did not get to joint them on Saturday, their arrival day in Italy and first day in Assisi but here is a link to some of the photos posted by Kelly Wahlquist, founder of WINE and one of the most amazing women I will ever know. She and Teresa Tomeo are co-hosts of this pilgrimage and the three of us were together today after our tour of the basilicas to tape a segment for Teresa’s Catholic Connection program on EWTN radio. A temporary studio was set up in a small office just off the lobby of the Subasio Hotel near the basilica of Saint Francis. (http://www.winepilgrimages.com/wine-shrine-2016/)
See the cross in the photo above? This was in the hotel office and there was also a cross in the hotel restaurant - and in many other restaurants and stores. Can you imagine what would happen if a cross was placed in a restaurant in America!
I hope to spend some quality time with each of the women during our Umbria journey and to learn their stories and their reasons for taking this pilgrimage. The story of one such journey was told today by Julie on Teresa’s program, There were four of us in the studio and, as the expression goes, not a dry eye in the house.
One of the four altars in this church shaped like a Greek cross.
Another altar under restoration. the area I have highlighted had been hidden for years under stone but one Franciscan felt the stone was hiding frescoes and he was right, The narrow strip you see in the middle (there were four of these in each chapel) is what was hidden under the stone and is being restored. You can see the restoration also in my previous photo.
I did have an unexpected thrill when I went to the Hotel Subasio after visiting the basilica as I intended to have lunch before doing the show with Teresa. I was sitting in the lobby texting Teresa when three people came in with luggage to register. They looked at me and I heard a chorus of, “Oh my goodness, it’s Joan’s Rome, it Joan from EWTN.” It turned out they were with a group guided by Steve Ray and as the others poured into the lobby, I was mobbed by well-wishers, A half dozen people took out their copies of my book and I signed those books and we did a lot of photos. What a fun-filled serendipitous meeting!
In this photo, our guide was bringing us down to the saint's home but the doors were closed this morning and we could not enter the small rooms. I have photos somewhere in my archives and will try to find those.
Everyone in our group had the afternoon off to explore Assisi or, as many will have done, to rest, given the early morning call for prayers with the sisters of St. Clare convent.
We meet for dinner at 7:30 at the Hotel dei Congressi where most of the WINE group are staying, high on a hill above Assisi.
Stay tuned - and visit the website whose link I gave earlier!
To follow Joan Lewis, visit Joan's Rome
To follow Teresa Tomeo, visit TeresaTomeo.com