ROME, Nov. 10 - A group of John Cabot University students on Saturday joined 5,000 other university students from across Rome for the Sixth Annual Pilgrimage to Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis.
The day started with an early rise, meeting the leader of the group Father Osvaldo, born and raised in Assisi, in Piazza Trilussa to catch the bus. The students were later joined by another group of students from the Regina Pacis Parish and also Salesian nuns from Monteverde.
Upon arrival at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, where Saint Francis founded the Orders of the Friars Minor in 1209, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, head of the pilgrimage from the Diocese of Rome, welcomed everyone and opened the ceremony with a mass. At the end of the mass, students exchanged the previously-received Tau, the Franciscan symbol used since the Old Testament. Saint Francis used the Tau for its similarity with the cross as a symbol of God’s hope and love for human beings.
The three kilometer pilgrimage immediately started after mass. Everyone headed up hill on their way to the town of Assisi, following the terracotta “Bricked Road”. At the end of the spiritual walk, the groups divided and could see the famous churches of Saint Francis, Saint Damian, and Saint Clare, enjoying not only the religious meanings of the visit but also the beautiful artwork with the particular panorama of the Umbrian hill town.
The closing of the ceremony took place in the Basilica of Saint Francis. At the end, everyone lit a candle and walked back from Assisi to Santa Maria degli Angeli for the return trip to Rome. Father Osvaldo ended the journey by saying, “I am glad the church offers this service for young university students because the future of the world is in their hands”.