Holy Women of Tuscany and Umbria

7th - 15th September 2006

A pilgrimage retreat to explore the lives and lessons of four holy Italian women whose examples can contribute to our own lives today. These women all shared an extraordinary depth of faith and wisdom in their chosen paths. Included are St. Catherine of Siena and St. Clare of Assisi.

Retreat Guide: Lucinda Vardey

Can $1690
US $1590
UK £820

Arrival 7th September at Migliara approx. 5 p.m.
Bus pick-up at Arezzo Station 3 p.m.

Holy Women of Tuscany and Umbria

Catherine of Siena, Clare of Assisi, Margaret of Castello, Veronica Giuliani

An Eight-Day Pilgrimage to explorer the lives and lessons of four holy Italian women whose examples can contribute to our lives today. Through talks on their biographies and backgrounds, as well as visits to their towns and places where they dwelt and worked, we can discover what holiness is. These women all shared an extraordinary depth of faith and wisdom in their chosen paths of service to God.

ST. CLARE OF ASSISI (1194-1253) The first woman Franciscan, she left her wealthy family in Assisi at age l8 and vowed to follow the life of poverty that St. Francis and his early friars had established. She spent the bulk of her life within the cloister walls of the small hermitage of San Damiano in the hills outside Assisi, accompanied by 40 nuns, including her mother and sister. As the Abbess she founded a Rule of monastic life for women; she followed a strict discipline of poverty and defended it with church authorities, who pushed for a more liberal, relaxed way of convent life for her and her sisters after St. Francis' death. The Poor Clares Order and other Franciscan communities for women are widely spread throughout the world today. St. Clare's example of simplicity of life and deep, feminine wisdom, her spiritual sweetness and her embracing and care, her stand against violence and oppression can be helpful today in our prayers of intercession in her name.

ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA (1347-1379) There are many great women saints who, by their lives, have shown us how to love and serve God in the feminine way. Among them, St. Catherine, shines out like a beacon of light. The 24th of 25 children, Catherine defied her parent's wish for marriage and instead secluded herself in a cell for prayer and contemplation. Called by Christ to practice love in action she eventually ventured into the outside world and began working among the sick and poor becoming a Dominician tertiary (third order). Recognized for her spiritual maturity, holiness and wisdom, she stood in the centre of the political, economic and religious strife of her time, preaching and practising the way of the heart as central to peace. She understood the vitalness of her Christian heritage - she persuaded the papacy to return to Rome after exile in Avignon, France - and she taught the absolute necessity of loving one's neighbour.

BLESSED MARGARET (1287-1320). Born in the Marches region to a noble family, she was unwanted by her parents who locked her up in a cell in an isolated church for 8 years embarrassed by her physical disabilities - she was blind, lame and humpbacked. Befriended by a priest, her spiritual intelligence led to an understanding and acceptance of her condition. Released in her town of Città di Castello, where she began a life of begging, and then healing, she lived in houses of the poor and eventually became a Dominican tertiary (lay member). Visiting the sick, dying and imprisoned, her joyful caring, peaceful action and holiness was recognized and respected by the townspeople. Hailed as a saint, she healed a girl just after her own death. We will visit the places of her childhood near Urbino, and the town of Città DI Castello including viewing her naturally preserved body in the church of St. Dominic.

ST. VERONICA GIULIANI (1660-1727). Born in the same region as Blessed Margaret, she joined a Franciscan cloistered convent in Città DI Castello as a young girl. She began keeping a diary from her entry there, which became her testament of spiritual growth and deepening faith in Christ all her life. She received the stigmata (wounds in her hands and feet) at the age of 37.

We will visit her home and the still working convent, as well as surrounding sights and view her tomb and the chapel and the museum with her many relics.


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