Tuesday, November 1st – All Saints Day
Halloween must exist in Italy because we saw fliers in Rome for costume stores and parties (at least, I think that’s what they were for). All Saints Day on November 1st, however, is definitely a holiday. It’s an actual national day off, and plenty of people do real things to celebrate. For the Catholic community worldwide, this is a Holy Day of Obligation that requires attendance at Mass. We were in Assisi. What else were we going to do? In spite of our efforts to find an English Mass, we ended up celebrating another Italian Mass. This time, it was at the Papal Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. That’s pretty cool, I think.
For afternoon activities, we lost Gabbie due to tiredness. The rest of us drove up to the top of Monte Subasio. This is where St. Francis is said to have meditated and contemplated life while overlooking the deep valley below. Remember, this was on a national holiday, so we saw plenty of people along the drive enjoying picnics and just having family fun.
There are lots of animals at the top of Monte Subasio. There’s plenty of cattle (we even saw a couple getting amorous) and horses. These aren’t regular-looking horses, though. They’re HUGE work horses. They’re so stout and wide, in fact, that they look like miniature horses from a distance. I mean, their proportions are unusual. But trust me, they’re huge. I think that I stood up to about one’s shoulder.
There was another treat at the top of the mountain too – paragliders. A group of these guys just happened to have an event going on at the same time we were there. We saw them setting up on the side of the hill, and every once in awhile they’d just run off the mountain and glide around. It was pretty neat. They’d run down the hill until the wind caught and scooped them up, sometimes almost running right into a line of cows. This didn’t seem to faze the amorous cows though.
Driving down from Monte Subasio, we headed into Perugia. We had some excellent panini for lunch and then walked over to the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (no photography allowed inside). Although situated in the town of Perugia, the basilica is considered to still be a part of Assisi. It called a frazione (or, fraction) of Assisi. It’s yet another huge, ornate and beautiful basilica in Italy. This one, however, boasts a somewhat unique feature. The Porziuncola church is completely contained inside.
You see, when St. Francis got the call to rebuild the Church (with a big “C”), he misunderstood and took the directive literally. He set out to rebuild churches (little “c”) physically, like with bricks and mortar and things. God eventually corrected him, but this Porziuncola is one of those churches he built. So there’s this small church – a complete building with four walls and a roof – standing there, and they built this massive basilica around it.
While we were inside the church, inside the basilica, one of the Franciscan Friars gave a special blessing to our family. It was an intimate affair just for us.