Sunday, the day of rest! and Day 3 of the retreat. This is the Sunday after Corpus Christi, so there are many, many festivals happening in an around Assisi. For those of us here on the retreat, it is also a day of reflection and a chance to go off on our own a bit, being immersed in Assisi and the local culture.
Since that is all more of an internal and individual process, I will share more of the tourist side of the day for now (if some of the group wants to share their reflections, I will update and add more).
Some of us slept in and recovered some energy after a long trip followed by the first two busy days of the retreat. (Those of us who didn’t sleep in made sure to nap accordingly later in the day – or, at least, I did!)
A few of us actually got up earlier than normal and went over to a nearby town called Spello where there is a flower festival. Mirka suggested we go early because it is a big spectacle, but if you go early, you can miss the hoards of visitors. People have been working for weeks to prepare chopped up flowers and other plants to be laid on the ground in incredible pieces of temporary art work. People had been laying down the colors since the day before, and we arrived around 6:30 AM to see them putting on the finishing touches. After a mass in one of the churches, there would be a procession through the flower masterpieces, destroying them all. You can see the connection to a celebration of the temporary nature of the body. We all left before the actual procession because we could barely escape the town center because of the crowds. The art work was spectacular. There are no words. Just take a look at some of the beautiful images Jentry captured.
That was truly just a glimpse of the offerings at the festival. After a few minutes, when I realized the scope of the art, I stopped even trying to record it on a device and just walked in the beauty and the spirit of the hundreds and hundreds of people working to create it. The creative spirit filled the air, and I just blended in and moved with the people, chatting here and there as best I could in my really poor Italian (I met a few really nice people). I ran into Banu, my trusty roommate in Assisi, and we took a little cappuccino break watching the people move past.
After we returned to Assisi and had lunch, we learned about the planned festival for the afternoon there. Since it basically took place outside of our hotel, it was hard to miss it. (In fact, the photos, below, were taken from the hotel window) In the previous post, I mentioned how St. Clare is said to have stopped an invading army. Well, because of that, the town of Assisi is dedicated to her. Each year, they renew the vow the city made in 1240. Apparently, that vow was being renewed today! In the afternoon, there was a mass in San Ruffino (up the hill), and afterwards, the bishops and, apparently, every priest and nun in town processed down to the main piazza where the mayor and city officials were waiting (along with a bunch of people dressed in medieval clothes). The mayor gave a beautiful speech, and the bishop presented the Eucharist St. Clare used for her miracle, and then the whole procession continued on to the big church of St. Clare.