The Soul's Journey into God:
A Pilgrimage with the Franciscan Mystics
May 27-June 5, 2014
Led by Margaret Benefiel, Ph.D.
The pilgrimage is based in the beautiful Umbrian town of Assisi, hometown of Francis and Clare. With its cobblestone streets, sacred shrines, and rich tradition of culture, Assisi has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries. Days will afford ample opportunity to enjoy local cuisine, sample wines, and savor the beauty of landscape, art, and culture. From Assisi, participants will travel to other Franciscan sites in Umbria and Tuscany.
The trip will explore the life and thought of the thirteenth-century Italian mystics: Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi, Angela of Foligno, and Bonaventure, and the medieval culture and context that shaped them. Participants will stay in a convent of Franciscan sisters in the historic center of Assisi and travel to the places and shrines in the surrounding areas where these saints lived and ministered and where they have left a spiritual imprint upon the local cultures through their writings, art, architecture, and legends.
The pilgrimage will be held in conjunction with an Earlham School of Religion class taught by Carole Spencer, Ph. D. For many of our sessions, the two groups will be together.
Itinerary: May 27-June 5, 2014:
This 10 day, 9 night itinerary includes visits to religious sites, beautiful countryside, and magnificent Medieval and Renaissance art.
Assisi and environs:
- San Damiano, where St. Francis received his call (later became St. Clare's convent)
- Basilica of St. Francis with art and relics
- Basilica of St. Clare with San Damiano cross
- St. Francis' hermitage, Mount Subasio
- Porziuncola (St. Francis' headquarters)
- Cathedral of San Rufino, including baptismal font where Francis and Clare were baptized as infants
Mount LaVerna Sanctuary, Tuscany:
- Chapel of the Stigmata
- Mountain walking
- Home of Blessed Angela of Foligno
- Church of San Francesco, where Blessed Angela is buried
Civita di Bagnoregio:
- Birthplace of Bonaventure
- Hilltop pedestrian-only city
- Ancient Etruscan caves
Medieval and Renaissance art:
- Giotto frescoes of the life of St. Francis
- Della Robbia terracottas
Costs and Conditions:
Cost: $1900 per person for double room, $2200 per person for single room. Cost includes room and breakfast and lunch daily, plus dinner on three nights, and all land travel and entrance fees during the pilgrimage. Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements and costs to Assisi. Trip insurance is not included, and participants are encouraged to acquire their own. Trains and buses run regularly from Rome. (See ItaliaRail for more details).
Until January 31, 2014, registration will be limited to ESR alumni/ae and their traveling companions. On February 1, 2014, registration will open to others. The pilgrimage is limited to 12 participants.
*A $750 non-refundable deposit will save your spot in the pilgrimage.
Checks should be written out to Earlham School of Religion and mailed to the following address:
Earlham School of Religion
228 College Ave.
Richmond, IN 47374
For more information on Assisi, visit: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/assisi
To see photos from the 2013 pilgrimage to Assisi, click here.
About Margaret Benefiel:
Margaret Benefiel, Ph.D., has led or co-led four previous pilgrimages to Italy. As a Quaker and a spiritual director, she finds great inspiration from Saints Francis and Clare. Dr. Benefiel is also a consultant and retreat leader and has served in various leadership roles in Spiritual Directors International and as Chair of the Academy of Management's Management, Spirituality, and Religion Group. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Andover Newton Theological School in Boston and a visiting lecturer at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland. For the 2003–2004 academic year, she held the O'Donnell Chair of Spirituality at the Milltown Institute in Dublin. Dr. Benefiel is the author of Soul at Work (Seabury, 2005) and The Soul of a Leader (Crossroad, 2008), and co-editor of The Soul of Supervision (Morehouse, 2010). She has also written for The Leadership Quarterly, Management Communication Quarterly, Managerial Finance, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Organization, Personal Excellence, America, Presence, The Way, Studies in Spirituality, Radical Grace, and Faith at Work.
About Carole Spencer:
Carole Dale Spencer, PhD., is Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality at Earlham School of Religion. Before coming to ESR in 2010 she taught Christian history and spiritual formation at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and was director of the Friends Center at the seminary. She is the author of Holiness: The Soul of Quakerism (Wipf & Stock Pub, 2007) and many articles on Quaker history, theology, and spiritually. She recently wrote a chapter, “Quakers in Theological Context” for the Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies. She is a recorded minister in Northwest Yearly Meeting of the Friends Church in Newberg, Oregon. She has led retreats and workshops, and has taught numerous seminary classes on the Christian mystics. Of all the Christian spiritual traditions she finds the Franciscan tradition to be most akin to Quaker spirituality and most relevant in addressing needs and concerns in our contemporary world.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What time should I arrive on the first day of the pilgrimage?
The pilgrimage will begin at 4 PM on May 27. You may arrive earlier to settle into your room if you would like.
How physically active will we be?
We will be walking each day. Assisi is quite hilly, so you need to be comfortable walking up and down hills. You should be in relatively good health.
Do I need to read anything in advance?
If you would like to read something in advance, we provide a suggested reading list. No reading is required, and no prior knowledge of the saints is required.
What should I know about train travel?
You can purchase a train ticket from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport to Assisi ahead of time through ItaliaRail, or you can buy your train ticket after arriving. Getting through immigration and customs at the airport can sometimes take an hour or more, so be sure to allow enough time to get to your train if you purchase a ticket in advance. Either way, you must validate your train ticket at the machines on the train platform before boarding the train or you could get a hefty fine when the conductor comes through the train to collect tickets.
If you purchase your ticket online, most routes will take you to the main train station in Rome (Termini) and then out to Assisi. If you buy your ticket at the airport, you can bypass the main train station in Rome. From Assisi, you can take a cab ride or city bus to the convent where we will be staying.
What is the easiest way to access money while in Italy?
The best way to access cash in Italy is to use ATM's. Travelers' checks are less convenient because they must be cashed through banks, and bank hours are irregular.
Please note: Your bank may want to know the dates you will be in Italy, so that they know it is you using your ATM card, and not someone else.
Can I use my mobile phone in Italy?
If you want to use a mobile phone while in Italy, you should check with your service provider to arrange a plan that works in Italy.
What should I wear?
Dress is casual, although pilgrims are asked to not wear shorts at sacred sites. Sleeveless tops are also discouraged unless covered by a shawl. Bring supportive walking shoes if you would like them for our longer walks.
Average weather conditions can be found through Trip Advisor.
What should I bring?
Feel free to bring a musical instrument, art supplies, a journal, and/or anything else that nurtures your soul. Our pilgrimage will have a contemplative pace: we will have reflective time at the convent where we are staying, time to visit sites, and individual time for you to use as you wish.
How else can I prepare?
Please bring any medical information you would like doctors to know in case of emergency.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org