Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Italian Pilgrimage: Florence

Florence as viewed from Piazzale Michelangelo
I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day my husband, Paul, and I would travel to Italy, yet there we were for an amazing ten-day pilgrimage filled with graces and wonders.  We traveled with Bishop Donald Hying of the Diocese of Gary, Indiana, Pentecost Tours and the Institute on Religious Life.  Our tour guide, Patrizia, was fabulous!  She took amazing care of our group of 80 pilgrims, always watching out for us and our interests and teaching us so much about her gorgeous country and our beautiful faith.  We feasted on delicious food each day and drank more wine than was reasonable.  And, most precious of all, we had daily Mass! 

Garments of St. Francis of Assisi at Uffizi Gallery
With our hearts full of prayer for our friends and family, our country, our Church and our souls, we arrived in Florence, a bustling and vibrant city, tired from the long flight, but excited for the adventure that lay ahead of us.  We visited magnificent churches including the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore, the fourth largest church in Europe, Santa Croce where Michelangelo and Galileo were buried, and the Uffizi Gallery where we marveled at religious art and even discovered the garments of St. Francis of Assisi!  We celebrated two Masses in Florence, one at San Giuseppe and the other at St. Michele Gaetano, where Cardinal Burke celebrates Mass and ordinations when in Italy.  The vestments that Bishop Hying and the concelebrating priests wore at St. Michele’s were antique;  I believe they were several hundred years old!

Mass at St. Michele Gaetano
(photo credit Bishop Donald Hying facebook page)

Mass at San Giuseppe
(photo credit Bishop Donald Hying facebook page)

Sante Croce
Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore
One of the most charming experiences we had in Florence occurred during lunch at an outdoor cafe on a narrow street just outside of San Guiseppe's Church-I wish I had written down the name of the restaurant, but sadly, I didn't.  We watched as a dog ran into the open door of the restaurant across from us and saw the employees feed him some scraps.  Then the dog ran into the open door of the restaurant where we were eating and he received more scraps.  While the dog was enjoying his second lunch, his owner ran into the restaurant and scolded the employees for feeding his pet.  We would never have seen something like that happening in Wisconsin!

No matter which building we entered, whether it was a church or a museum, the tour guide was sure to point out the flood markers.  On November 4th, 1966, Florence suffered a horrific flood of the river Arno which caused over 100 deaths and saw the water rise to 22 feet.  As you can imagine there was much destruction to the beautiful churches and artwork in the city and the tragic event has remained at the forefront in the minds of all Florentines.  We marveled at the amount of repair work that must have been undertaken to restore the treasures of Florence. You can learn more about the flood here.


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The square in front of Piazza del Duomo after the flood (source)

We didn’t think we could possibly see anything more marvelous than Florence and its historic churches and art that had been painstakingly restored as much as possible since the flood, but then we traveled to Assisi where even more amazing beauty and rich faith experiences awaited us.  I instantly fell in love with Assisi!  That story is soon to come.

  My favorite artwork at the Uffizi Gallery 

Mother and Child

St. Anne with Mary and Jesus

Mother and Child

Carrying the cross


Scenes from Florence churches


Our Lord in the arms of God and the angels


Scenes from Florence

The best meal I have ever had-so mouthwatering!
The waiter apologized because the mushrooms
weren't quite right but I thought they were perfect!
-from the restaurant with the dog
Benches made from bedframes at the restaurant with the dog-so quaint!
I have to stop telling lies!

View from the rooftop garden at Hotel Baglioni at sunrise

The happy pilgrims on the rooftop garden of Hotel Baglioni


  1. Beautiful pictures and story! The cathedrals are so amazing. You captured the journey perfectly!

  2. One word:

    Is it okay to be a little bit envious when it was such an amazing trip? I hope so! So glad you got to go on such a wonderful pilgrimage!

  3. Amazing Trip. Thanks for the info and pictures on this blog