Day 6, Saturday, November 11 Florence/Assisi 

St. Olaf Italy Pilgrimage
Day 6, Saturday, November 11
Florence/Assisi
Our journey began early with a ride to the Piazza Michaelangelo for an overview of Florence. What we had toured was only a small part of this modern city of half a million people. I found myself wishing we had more time.
The three hour trip to Assisi took us to Umbria. We stopped at a rest stop to use the clean restrooms, a treasure to any traveler.
Assisi is walled mountain town, but any journey there begins below at the city of St. Mary of the Angels. There is a basilica there of the same name. It is a pilgrimage church, large and built around a number of sites important in the story of Francis and Clare. It protects the Portiuncula, a tiny church dedicated to St
Josophat, a meeting place for the friars and where Francis cut the hair of Clare as she ran away from her family to enter religious life. It also contains chapels over the hut where Francis lived, and the place where he died.
Our bus then took us up the mountain to Assisi where we entered the gates and walked the main street.
We started at the Church of St. Clare. Poorclares live here maintaining it as a cloister. The San Damiano crucifix through which God called Francis to rebuild the Church hangs in a chapel there. Below you can see a number of reliques, including the hair of St. Clare, her habit and hairshirt and clothes of St Frrancis. The incorruptible body of St Clare lies on display. (No photos are allowed.)
Assisi is a city of stone, with stone streets that wind up, down and around. Views of the lower valley are breathtaking and bells regularly toll.
On the way we encountered a church on the site of the home of the parents of Francis. There is a church inside an ancient pagan temple to the goddess Minerva. The temple is reminder that this area had been inhabited long before Francis was born.
Our final stop was the Basilica of St Francis. Even off season the basilica was full and we had to wait to for a chapel to open up to celebrate Mass. We were able to visit the chapel where Francis’ body is. We climbed to the upper church to see the frescos there.

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