Saints of Italy Pilgrimage: An experience of a lifetimePrint
From July 16 to August 6 fourteen students from St Vincent’s College, and two teachers took part in the World Youth Day pilgrimage to Poland. We were travelling with Catholic Schools Sydney as Bus 17 which also included students from St Mary’s Cathedral College, Marist College North Shore, their teachers, a chaplain and two Youth Ambassadors.
Before attending World Youth Day, the St Vincent’s group made the Saints of Italy Pilgrimage. First stop – Venice. With a local guide we visited St Mark’s Square and its Basilica where we had Mass. We saw the lavish Doge’s Palace – the breathtaking works of art. Then wandered through the vibrant and narrow little streets- an opportunity to taste some local cuisine and the girls enjoyed a gondola ride and a view of the Salute church (below).
In Florence the group had an amazing view of this magnificent city from Piazzale Michelangelo. They attended Mass at the impressive Duomo Santa Maria Del Fiore with its distinctive dome. Wonderful sites including the Palazzo Vecchio, the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s first bridge, the magnificent architectural work of the Uffizi and Opera Di Santa Croce, as the pilgrims walked through the crowded streets,
It was an amazing sight to see Assisi enclosed by ramparts sprawling across the slopes of Mount Subasio. This region of Umbria proudly boasts a connection to many saints besides St Francis, notably St Scholastica, twin sister of St Benedict, Saints Anthony of Padua, Clare, Valentine, and Rita.
Mass was in the lower Basilica of San Francesco, where the walls were adorned by frescos depicting various parts of Jesus’ life. A crypt dug in 1818 houses Francis’ tomb. The Upper Basilica is adorned by Giotto’s frescoes illustrating the life of St Francis. Walking along the Via San Francesco took the St Vincent’s team to the historic township of Assisi, where we spent time exploring!
The next day Mass was in Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli situated at the foot of the hills of Assisi. On route to Rome… Orvieto – another centuries old hill top town with its Duomo Di Orvieto, a magnificent Gothic building which attracts many art lovers.
On Day 7 of the pilgrimage began with an early Mass in the Vatican at St Peter’s for the feast of Mary Magdalene. This day (Friday 22 July) we also remember the death of Mary Aikenhead, foundress of the Sisters of Charity. It was 158 years since she died and St Peter’s was a great place to remember her and the congregation she founded.
Next stop, St Peter’s Square… the Basilica and a viewing of the body of Pope St John XXIII.
In the extremely hot weather, the group undertook a 12.5 km walk around the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, and the ancient temples and ruins of Rome. In the afternoon we were lucky to visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel- such a remarkable artistic achievement and dedication to faith.
The last day in Rome began with Mass at the Papal basilica, St Mary Major – where St Ignatius celebrated his first Mass.
Then on to visit the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona with Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers, the Ara Pacis (the Tomb of Augustus). Some of the little group still had the energy and climbed a campanile’s many stairs to get a good view of Rome.
What an amazing and faith-inspiring week!