Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rosia & Lecceto - 4th Day (3/04/08)

After our first night’s sleep in the 13th century Convento Sant’ Agostino, the bells of San Gimignano began to ring at 7:00 a.m. announcing that the Augustinian Friars were beginning their liturgical “Office of Readings” followed by meditation and morning prayer, which a few early risers among us joined.

Breakfast in the main refectory gave us the opportunity to wake up with cereal, bread, jam juice and delicious hot coffee. Before boarding the bus for our excursion of the day we packed a bagged lunch - Pranzo al sacco in Italian.

After all of our preparations we all walked out the Porta di San Matteo (one of the two main entrance gates to the walled city of San Gimignano) and we reunited with Giancarlo our amico (friend) and autista (driver) and we boarded the bus.

Fr. Brian Lowry, OSA, led the pilgrims to a wooded area known as Rosia and immediately after getting off the bus we began our walk to the Ponte della Pia, which is an old bridge with Roman foundations. This bridge leads to the ancient Roman road directing us to the hermitage of Santa Lucia which was off to the left side of the road and up another hill.

It was a hermitage tucked deep into the woods and was already in existence by the time the Augustinian Order was formed in 1244; most likely it goes back to a 9th century foundation.

Although it is no longer in use, one can still imagine what it was like to live there as one can see the outline of the wall of the church next to the three story building which was the old hermitage. The bravest of the pellegrini ventured into the building and up the stairs to the upper floors where tiny windows provided light and also a nice frame for the pellegrini who remained outside to take some nice photos.

After Fr. Brian gave an explanation of the hermitage we all had some time to walk around and explore the surroundings. (It was near the end of our visit to Santa Lucia hermitage when pilgrim Kathy Byrnes had her St. Rita experience with a thorn… well, almost like St. Rita!)

After our visit to Rosia and the hermitage we reassembled on the bus and Giancarlo brought us into another wooded area to spend a few hours with the Augustinian Contemplative sisters of Lecceto. Madre Sophia welcomed us and invited us into the inner cloistered courtyard to see the beauty of the early signs of spring surrounding the well with the symbol of the Siena hills and Lecce branches.

The Augustinian sisters have been in Lecceto since 1972, but it has a centuries old tradition of being a place of prayer for the Augustinian family beginning with the Friars in the 13th century. During our visit to Lecceto, Fr. Brian explained the frescoes on the walls of the inner courtyard which depict scenes from the life of the early Tuscan hermits of Lecceto. We visited the chapel and the chapter room (which now is too small for the community of sisters to use….a nice sign of growth among this contemplative group of Augustinian sisters).

Before gathering for mid-day prayer in the chapel, we had the opportunity to browse through the gift shop and admire the animated artwork of Sr. Maria Rosa. As usual, the sisters chanted their mid-day prayer with such devotion and attention to the prayer itself. It was a nice opportunity to join in the prayers of the sisters without us having to utter a single word; their voices carried us through the prayer.

After our pranzo al sacco we had some quiet time to sit and chat, take some pictures with arches and shadows, or simply to reflect and read in the peaceful surroundings of the convent grounds. These grounds are the same ones which Catherine of Siena used to enjoy upon her visits to her spiritual director, William Flete, OSA, acknowledged master of spirituality in the 14th century.

Upon returning to San Gimignano (about a 40 minute drive…..or nap) we gathered for our group photo on the back tower of the convento at Sant’Agostino. (The wind was really blowing up at the time of our photo shoot!).

We then had time for sight seeing, picture taking, shopping and gelato. Loretta, once again, outdid herself with a delicious spaghetti and tomato sauce, sliced turkey, and fresh salad.

Afterwards, we had a relaxing evening sitting around, chatting, and laughing. Most of the pilgrims took advantage of the free schedule to go to bed earlier than the normal hours we had been keeping.

Thanks to pilgrim-leader Fr. Joe for providing this record of the fourth day of our pilgrimage, and to all who have shared photographs for this entry.


Bosse said...

Do you have an e-mail adress to Convento Sant'Agostino in San Gimignano?


Servitore Fedele said...

San Gimignano (SI)
Piazza Sant’Agostino
Tel. +39 0577-940383/907012