Rome. March 16th, 8:00 a.m. The bell rings at the Servant Brothers’ house. It’s the young men from the United States who arrive on pilgrimage. The Brothers very excitedly go downstairs to invite them in and get ready to leave; I go to the parking lot to get the car in order to load up and leave as soon as possible. We have a moment of conversation and laughter with them at the door of the house.
When, suddenly I turn to check the car so everything is fine, and what a surprise! There was no front license plate! How it was lost and what happened, only God knows! A moment of grief and uncertainty arises since the license plate is like the car’s identity. Do we let this ruin our pilgrimage? Of course not, we set off on the road to Assisi and Loreto, with a heart ready to receive all the graces that God and our Blessed Mother have in store for us.
After a couple of hours of traveling we arrived in Assisi, the land of St. Francis and St. Clare. There they were born, lived and died. These lands were witnesses to the exceptional events of God in them and to the birth of the Franciscan life.
The first place to visit was the Portiuncula, inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels. The first Franciscans lived there and it is also the place where Saint Francis died. In a chapel we were able to celebrate Mass, pray and visit the church.
After lunch, we went to the town of Assisi and visited the beautiful, 13th-century basilicas. We saw the Basilica of Saint Clare, the monastery where the Order of the Poor Clares began and where her mortal remains rest. We also saw the San Damiano cross, where the Lord, through the figure of the Crucified Christ, spoke to Saint Francis saying: “Francis, can not you see that my house is collapsing? Go, then, and restore it." Francis at the time understood that he had to restore the material part of the church of San Damiano. With the passing of time, he realized that God was asking him to restore the Church in the baptized.
In the Basilica of Saint Francis, we visited the mortal remains of Saint Francis and his first companions. We admired the church, contemplating its beauty. At the end of the visit, the Lord gave us the grace to enter the cell and chapel of St. Joseph Cupertino. He had been there for 12 years.
The next stop was Fano, the ancient coastal city in the Marche region. There the Benedictines warmly welcomed us in their hostel. We were very impressed by their generosity and joy. And why not? We also visited the beach at nightfall. Afterward, there was a time for games and chat.
The next day, after visiting a garden dedicated to the Virgin Mary and our friend Marco’s television studio "Fano TV 14," we went to Loreto. There stands the Holy House of Loreto, the first international sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Sanctuary of Loreto conserves, according to an ancient tradition and validated by the historical and archaeological investigation, the three walls of the house of the Virgin of Nazareth. The earthly house of Mary in Nazareth is composed of two parts. One is a cave excavated in the rock and the foundations of the walls, which are venerated in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Palestine. The other part is a double brick facade, composed of three stone walls that were at the end of the cave, venerated in Loreto, Italy. After spending the day in reflection together with our Blessed Mother and perceiving her infinite love, we returned home with a heart full of joy in the Lord and Our Mother. One of the young men telling his experience said how he had been happy to pray the whole Rosary again since he had not prayed it for a long time. He felt a new need to pray the Rosary every day.
Thanks be to God and Our Blessed Mother for this time of blessings and also to all those who received us very kindly.