The pilgrims arrived in Rome this morning at 10:30 AM. After making their way through customs and picking up their luggage, the group met their tour guides from Catholic Travel Centre. The guides, who will accompany them throughout the pilgrimage, escorted them to their busses. They traveled from Rome to Assisi with a brief lunch stop at a self-service restaurant on the way. Fresh salads and baked panini sandwiches were enjoyed by many of the pilgrims.
Our first holy site to visit was the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels. The basilica holds two of the most treasured Franciscan sites: the little church of the Portiuncula which was the center of the entire life of Saint Francis, and the Transitus Chapel where Saint Francis died.The construction of the basilica was begun in 1569 at the request of Pope Pius V to contain and protect all of the remnants of the life of Saint Francis, the Portiuncula and the Transitus Chapel.
Another chapel of interest in the basilica is the Chapel of Roses. It is named for a little patch of roses without thorns that grow nearby. The saint threw himself into a hedge of thorns to rid himself of doubts and tempations. The hedge miraculously turned into thornless roses that continue to flower there today.
After some time to explore the basilica and confessions, the pilgrims joined Bishop Malesic, Father Lechnar and Father Sikon for Mass in the crypt below the basilica.
The group again boarded the busses and drove up the steep hill to the Hotel Giotto where we would have dinner and our first night's sleep of the pilgrimage.
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