With the motto “Laudato Si” Sisters Maria Madre Celestial and Maria Czestochowa participated in a pilgrimage to Assisi guided by Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich and in which 80 people participated including youth and leaders.
St. Francis came from a wealthy family- his father sold fabric- and lived a carefree childhood and youth, cultivating ideas of knights and chivalry from his time. When he was twenty he joined the military and was taken prisoner. He became ill and was freed. After his return to Assisi, he began a slow process of spiritual conversion that led him to gradually leave the worldly life he had lived. At this time St. Francis’s famous encounter with the leper took place, where Francis, got off his horse, gave the Kiss of peace and the message of the Crucifix from St. Damian’s Church. Christ on the Cross came to life on three different occasions and said “See, Francis, and repair my Church from its ruins.” And from there began his process of conversion.
We began our journey on the night of the 17th of July and we arrived the following morning to the land of St. Francis. In the evening on the 18th we went on a walk to the Basilica of St. Francis which took us an hour and fifteen minutes. At the Basilica we had Mass, celebrated by one of our chaplains.
On the 19th we began our hike which lasted 5 days. We hiked through mountains, went on trails some were rocky and others dry, to visit different places on “the way of St. Francis.” “The way of St. Francis” comprises places which played an important role in the life St. Francis, some were important in his spiritual life and others in the development of the Franciscan order.
We went in three smalls groups and a fourth group of 6 youth went by bike. Every day it reached 38 degrees but we had a goal to visit different places like: Foligno, El Valle de Rieti (In this región there are 4 different sanctuaries: Fonte Colombo, la Floresta, Poggio Bustone and Greccio where he celebrated Christmas in an unusual way with great fervor: prepared a live nativity), Speco di Francesco and Spoleto.
During the long hikes we could contemplate beautiful views which made us understand the love Francis had for creation and through his intercession we were able to understand that creation unfolds the wisdom and benevolence of the Creator. He who understands nature like a language in which God speaks to us, in which reality becomes transparent and we can speak of God and with God. . “Most high and omnipotent good Lord, yours are the praises, the glory and the honor of all blessing.”  These days were fulled with many graces and sacrifices. Everyone on the pilgrimage had to overcome the tiredness, the heat, but the satisfaction to have been able to reach our goal and have the Holy Mass at the end of the day in different places where Francis was brought joy to us all.
In the evening on the 29th we had Mass in the crypt of Santa Maria degli Angeli and 4 youth made their Confirmation. In the homily the Archbishop spoke to us about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and said the Holy Spirit helps us to make the right decisions in our lives.
During the second week we stayed close to Santa Maria degli Angeli where we had Mass every day and from there we went to visit the Churches of Rivotorto, The Basilica of St. Francis where we had a penitential service which bore much fruit, almost all the youth went to confession. We also visited Santa Clara, San Damián, Eremo delle Carceri, Chiesa Nuova, S. Rufino, S. Pietro.
On the 30th in the evening with a group of 18 people we were able to experience one of the most beautiful visits of our trip, we climbed Mount Subasio to see the sun go down, we arrived just in time. We slept in the open air contemplating the stars and the moon and at 5 in the morning we woke up to see the sun rise, the sun began to rise at 6, after this natural spectacle, we reunited with the group for a three and a half hour hike and in the evening we had Mass and began our return to Luxemburg.
May the Virgin Mary, who Francis loved so tenderly, make us understand the secret of true happiness which is precisely: to become saints, near to God. And we give thanks for all the benefits received during the whole trip.
María de Czestochowa, SSVM