Pilgrimage to Assisi:
In the Footsteps of Francis & Clare

May 2023

Your Invitation

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FRANCIS & CLARE is an immersion experience in Assisi, Italy — a unique opportunity to contemplate your own spiritual path in companionship with beloved Saints Francis and Clare.

The retreat highlights their life events, spirituality, and writings, explored through talks, meditations, and practices, including questions for contemplation. These help encourage the kind of listening that prompts deeper understanding of your personal story and the ways in which it is woven into the universal story; the ways in which your being touches and impacts all other being and matter; and the ways in which all things are in relationship with each other.

On this pilgrimage, you are invited to nurture body, mind, and spirit by living into the wise ways of Francis and Clare. In doing so, you can call forth what is deepest within you and begin to express that outwardly, within and around the medieval city of Assisi.

Select from two distinct pilgrimage experiences, or combine the two into one:

Pilgrimage A follows the footsteps of Francis and Clare within and around Assisi, Umbria. During this week, you are immersed in the rich Franciscan history of Assisi, connecting the lived experiences of Francis and Clare with the major sacred sites throughout the ancient city.

Pilgrimage B is a second week that expands your geographical scope. From our base in Assisi, you will venture to
other cities in Umbria – and beyond – that echo with significant Franciscan history, legends, and miracles including Greccio where Francis enacted the first living Nativity, and La Verna where Francis received the stigmata.

Pilgrimage C combines both weeks of Pilgrimages A and B into a single, two- week immersion with Franciscan
spirituality and history, sacred sites, beautiful countryside, and food and fellowship.

Each pilgrimage week starts with dinner and orientation on Sunday evening with departure on the following Saturday. In the spirit of balancing activity with contemplation, the Wednesdays of each of the two pilgrimage weeks are free days.

Pilgrimage Details

Register today for Pilgrimage A or B
Or both, with Pilgrimage C

Pilgrimage A:
May 14 – 20, 2023

We encounter Francis and Clare
through their life experiences and
writings, with visits (by way of walking
or taxi, with fare included) to Assisi’s
major sacred sites, including:

  • Basilica of St. Francis
  • Basilica of St. Clare
  • Convent of San Damiano
  • Santa Maria degli Angeli & the
    Porziuncola (Little Portion)
  • Bishop’s Palace & Santa Maria
  • Cathedral of San Rufino
  • And others

During this week, you are immersed in
the rich Franciscan history of Assisi,
connecting the lived experiences of
Francis and Clare with the major sacred
sites throughout the ancient city.

Pilgrimage B:
May 21 – 27, 2023

We retrace Francis’ and Clare’s
travels from Assisi to other cities with
important Franciscan legacies:

  • Gubbio, the site of Francis’ legendary
    encounter with the wolf
  • Greccio, where Francis introduced
    the first Nativity
  • La Verna, where Francis received
    the stigmata
  • Perugia, where Francis was
    imprisoned and to which Clare’s
    family escaped

In each location, we are immersed in the
significant stories, miracles and events
of each saint’s life and their resonance
for our lives. With Assisi as our base, we
make round-trip day tours by coach. Bus
fare is included.

Pilgrimage C:
May 14 – 27, 2023

“Pilgrimage C” combines A and B for a complete two-week immersion, starting within the medieval walls of Assisi, and continuing with travel into Umbria and beyond to cities with important Franciscan legacies.
When you choose Pilgrimage C, you enjoy a discount of $400.00 for a single room,
or a discount of $350.00 for a shared room. 

Wednesdays Are Yours !

In the spirit of balancing activity with contemplation, there is a mid-week break during  each pilgrimage. Wednesdays are completely unscheduled – please do as you wish!  Soak up the sun in the piazza with a cappuccino or gelato. Join other pilgrims for food  and fellowship. Or, if you want something more active, you can explore the hidden corners of Assisi, go for a hike in the beautiful countryside, or visit a neighboring city  like Spello or Perugia. Yoga and massage can be arranged.  

We will also offer a choice of two contemplative activities – please consider joining us!  

Led by Paul Kimmerling. Join us to take an “inside-out” approach to photo-making, inspired by Franciscan spirituality, that combines contemplative and creative  practices.  

Led by Bishop Br. Mark. The Eremo dell Carceri is a sanctuary amidst the forest and caves where St. Francis spent some of his annual 40-day retreats, and where it’s said he wrote his Rules of Life.

Register Today!

Travel Tip: Extend your stay!

Many pilgrims enjoy an extended stay in Italy by bookending their Assisi experience with a visit to another Italian locale. The following three destinations are less than three hours by train from Assisi. First, wonderfully walkable Rome offers a vast array of museums, archeological treasures, and dining options. Or, consider Ancona, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, the capital of the Marche region known for its beaches. And, of course, there’s neighboring Tuscany, including Florence, the birthplace of the Italian renaissance.

Check out the Trenitalia (Italy’s national rail system) site for fares and schedules to these locations. https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html

If you’re eager to enjoy the warm waters of more southern destinations like Sicily or Malta, consider your options from Umbria’s own airport: https://www.airport.umbria.it/en/home-en

Your Facilitators

The Rt. Rev. Br. Mark D’Alessio is a Franciscan friar in society of the Companions of  Francis and Clare. He’s also a spiritual director, bishop, priest, chaplain, retreat leader, author, crisis counselor for the homeless, and past president and executive director of the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute, which draws together the inspiration of the church with the wisdom of psychological care. A graduate of the Guild’s AP XXVII, he’s a former board member (twice!) and was part of the leadership team that reimagined/redesigned the AP for the age of Zoom. He was one of the Guild’s pilgrimage leaders to Iona in 2019 and is an AP guest faculty member.  

An interspiritual pilgrim, Bishop Br. Mark is also a faculty member at All Faiths  Seminary International for the training of interfaith ministers. He’s initiated into multiple spiritual lineages, both East (Buddhist) and West (Christian); and, as a long-time seeker and practitioner of spiritual wisdom, does his best to affirm the Christian Wisdom tradition within a wider inter-spiritual framework. As part, he looks to both God’s evolutionary science and spiritual heroes (such as Thích Nhat Hanh and Francis and Clare of Assisi) as sources of inspiration and hope. He is delighted to collaborate again with Paul Kimmerling, for all of the reasons that Paul mentions below!

As a Franciscan, Bishop Br. Mark is committed to serving those who are sidelined and at risk. Moving to Long Island, he founded the Franciscan Circle, a progressive, interfaith gathering of clergy and lay people who seek to journey in mind and heart with the witness and wisdom of the Saints of Assisi, Francis and Clare. The Circle is dedicated to developing leaders for thoughtful social action and spiritual care. The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless awarded Br. Mark with their “Unsung Hero” Award last year.  

Paul Kimmerling now calls Assisi, Italy, his home, after retiring there from New York in March, 2021. His love of Assisi and his deep connection with St Francis prompted Paul to design and lead five retreats in Assisi. His Franciscan retreat, “Live the Questions: A Journey with Francis and Clare”, was offered four times between 2013-2018. In 2019, Paul led “Through Beginners’ Eyes”, a photography retreat to foster new ways of seeing the world and encourage greater creativity in photo making. Prior to that, Paul led a number of contemplative photography retreats and workshops at Holy Cross  Monastery, West Park, NY, on the Highline in Manhattan, and at Little Portion Friary, LI,  NY. As a fine art photographer, Paul was a member of the Atlantic Gallery, in Manhattan’s West Chelsea art district, from 2019-2021. To see samples of his work, you can follow him on Instagram or Facebook.

Paul enjoyed a long career in talent development, most recently as an independent consultant who designed and conducted workshops and coaching programs for executives, managers and individual contributors in small-mid-size technology companies in the NY Metro area. Currently, Paul provides mentorship and spiritual direction for members of the 12-step and LGBTQ+ communities. He is board president of the Companions of Mary the Apostle (CMA), West Park, NY. In the spirit of Mary Magdalene, the first to see and announce the resurrection, CMA proclaims the renewing and transforming power of encountering Christ in our lives and in the world. 

Paul is delighted to collaborate again with Mark D’Alessio. Over the course of their friendship, they have designed, delivered, and mentored a variety of retreats and educational programs for Franciscan communities, 12-step communities and the Education for Ministry (EFM) program of the Episcopal Church.  

You can contact Paul at guildpilgrimageassisi2023@gmail.com or phone or text on WhatsApp in Italy at +39 339 5367058.  

Pilgrimage to Assisi  

A place to gather, a place for peace