Young people on the road to Assisi

The solemnity of the Pardon of Assisi is only a few days away, and the Portiuncula friary is ready to welcome thousands of pilgrims from Italy and the whole world (here is the complete programme). To reach even those who cannot be physically present, it will be possible to follow the celebrations live through the website perdonodiassisi.org.

The different YouFra groups of this 40th Franciscan march started their journey on 25 July. They have decided to walk some stretches in the countryside in their respective regions of origin to reach Assisi then and join the other marchers. There will be around twelve Italian groups from different provinces throughout Italy, as well as a group with three subgroups from Croatia and a group from Austria. At the same time, the Franciscan march will also take place in other places around the world: in the Holy Land, the friars will lead the march with dozens of young people from 27 July to 4 August.

“Our group is international and is made up of people from the entire German-speaking area: from Austria, Switzerland, Germany, South Tyrol,” explains the leader, Brother Karl. “Thinking of mercy, which is a work of rebuilding, we have chosen to go right through the places of the Friuli earthquake, starting from Gemona, the epicentre,” says Br Ivano, who leads the group from northern Italy. “Sin, like an earthquake, leaves us a little shattered, crumbling, on the ground. Mercy is a work of reconstruction: restoring beauty and dignity to what is wounded. At the same time, this is the first March two years after the earthquake of pandemic and isolation. We are happy that this recommencement of walking is a sign of a new beginning, not as before, but with the imagination of the Holy Spirit”.

Backpacks on their shoulders and hearts open to the Word, young people from Lazio, Abruzzo, Sicily, Campania, Puglia, Marche, Tuscany and Umbria also set out.

Br Pasqualino, of the group from Naples, has often noticed small miracles in those taking part in the march: the discovery of one’s vocation to religious consecration or marriage, deeper conversion, the beginning of a more intense journey of faith, the consolidation of one’s vocational choices. “I hope these miracles will happen again this year,” he said on the eve of the departure.

“The march is a pilgrimage, a journey to discover the mercy of God that dwells in our lives. The precariousness and fraternity help us to experience this discovery,” commented Br Fabio of the Lazio-Abruzzo group. Br Antonio from Foggia maintains that what distinguishes this march is precisely the Franciscan style: “The style of the march goes against the tide of the dumbing down proposed by society (comfort, false fears…). In short, it is a precious opportunity to get to know the truths of life hidden in each one of us, in our brothers and sisters, and the wonder of creation”.

“The Franciscan march of the Tuscan group will be a good 170 km long,” says the leader, Br Francesco, “40 years ago, the Tuscan friars set off on foot with a group of young people from La Verna. For us, the journey from the shrine of the Stigmata, where the young people can experience their own pain before encountering God’s mercy at the Porziuncola, is important. Francis on the Holy Mount experienced love and sorrow. So the young people can grasp in the mystery of the Stigmata the love of a God who allows himself to be wounded for us and then welcomes them in forgiveness at the Portiuncula”.

The Pardon of Assisi programme

Monday 1 August will be the opening day of the Solemnity of the Pardon with the Eucharistic Celebration at 11 AM. OFM Minister General Br Massimo Fusarelli will preside. This will be followed by the “Opening of the Pardon” procession. From that moment, from 12 noon on 1 August until midnight on the 2nd, the Plenary Indulgence, granted at the Portiuncula daily, will be extended to all parish churches and Franciscan churches. Then, at6.30 PM, First Vespers will be presided over by H.E. Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, Bishop of Assisi – Nocera Umbra – Gualdo T. and Foligno. This will be followed by the offering of incense by the Mayor of Assisi, Stefania Proietti. Finally, the traditional Evening Prayer Vigil at 8.45 PM will be led by Br Luciano De Giusti OFM, Minister Provincial of the Friars Minor of Abruzzo-Lazio.

On 2 August, it will be possible to participate in numerous Eucharistic celebrations: the solemn one at 11.30 AM will be presided over by H.E. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop Emeritus of Genoa. Then, starting at 2.30 PM, the young people and families of the 40th Franciscan March will pass through the door of the Portiuncula. Finally, the Minister Provincial of the Friars Minor of Umbria and Sardinia, Br Francesco Piloni OFM, will preside at Solemn Vespers of the Pardon at 7 PM.

B.G.

(Photo Credit: Frati del Palatino)