“Live the Questions: A Journey with Francis and Clare”

Sunday afternoon, 9/21/14 – Friday evening, 9/26/14. Check-out Saturday, 9/27/14.

What will you hear in 13th-century Italy?

“Live the Questions: A Journey with Francis and Clare” is a unique opportunity to contemplate your spiritual path in light of those of Saints Francis and Clare. And, to immerse yourself in Assisi, Italy, the city that birthed and witnessed these exemplary lives.

We start Sunday evening, and close Friday evening of the same week. Each morning, we begin with a reflection on the significant life events of Francis or Clare, which act as touchstones for contemplating our own journeys. These talks are followed by visits to Assisi’s sacred sites.

Afternoons are unscheduled, affording ample time for personal reflection,  and further exploration of this remarkable medieval city.

In the evenings, we will gather for group reflections to close the day. There is a mid-week break, on Wednesday, to provide time for leisure, reflection and rest. I can pr0vide suggestions for other activities, if you wish.

Note: This retreat is not presented as an exclusively Christian experience. Francis and Clare were clearly Christian, but their lives provide learnings for all who walk a spiritual path. 

St Clare, Bas relief, Assisi, Italy...by Paul Kimmeling

The City of Peace

Assisi, the “City of Peace”, is a compelling destination for spiritual pilgrims. Ancient, narrow streets open into sun-warmed, sky-filled piazzas. The city’s physical configuration metaphorically reflects aspects of the spiritual journey.

Assisi has an abundance of natural and man-made beauty. If the eye is the window to the soul, then Assisi lays out a visual feast to nourish the interior life.

Assisi seems to abide in a time out of time. Many have experienced Assisi as a “thin place”, where the veil between worlds seems to drop away…where the sense of the mystical, as integrated by Francis and Clare, may be within our ken as well.

San stefano, assisi

Wondrous History and Treasures

Assisi’s stunning early and medieval churches hold centuries of religious art treasures. These reach their zenith in the frescoes of Giotto and Cimabue, which memorialize the extraordinary life of St. Francis at the Basilica that bears his name. We will have ample time to contemplate these monumental works.

Their grand scale cannot diminish the stark beauty and significance of a very singular piece in the Basilica of St. Clare – the icon crucifix of San Damiano. It was while at prayer in front of this crucifix that Francis heard his mission to repair the church. We will visit:

  • The Basilica of St Francis
  • The Basilica of St Clare
  • The Porziuncola at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, where Francis and his brothers lived, and where Francis died.
  • The Cathedral of San Rufino, where Francis and Clare were baptized
  • San Damiano, which Francis rebuilt, and where Clare and her sisters lived



There are fixed and discretionary expenses for this pilgrimage.

Fixed Expenses

▪   $1,045.00 US pp, single room, + bath

▪   $1,005.00 US pp, 2 persons per room, + bath

The price-per-person includes:

  • 6 nights in Assisi, at a religious guesthouse;
  • Breakfast at the guesthouse;
  • Morning and evening talks/group reflections;
  • Supplies (a personal journal, pen, map and Assisi guidebook);
  • Visits to the major landmarks (as above) with historic and artistic highlights

Please note: Our daily site visits are coordinated with our morning reflections. With your guidebooks, and site highlights provided each day during our morning talks, you will know in advance what to look for at each location, as we visit it. This is not conducted as a “tour” in the traditional sense; nor, do I act as a tour guide. 

The guesthouse is in the heart of Assisi, from which we can walk most everywhere. It has an elevator, wi-fi, and an extensive library. Lunch and dinner may also be taken there.

Please note that there are many hills and stairs in Assisi, which some may find arduous.

Variable Expenses

▪   Air travel; local transportation; lunches and dinners.

This program is ideal for those who enjoy the freedom to make their own travel arrangements. Often, retreatants add time to the front or back of this pilgrimage – for example, in Rome, or Florence. I am able to consult on some of these options.

Poppies, Rocca Maggiore, Assisi

Travel Preparations

I can consult on travel, including flights, making connections in Italy, or purchasing train tickets. I have made this trip several times, and my personal experience may be useful.

Here are some helpful links:


The Road to Assisi: The Essential Biography of St. Francis by Paul Sabatier, translation and notes by Jon Sweeney


St. Francis, by Nikos Kazantzakis


St. Clare, A Short Biography, by Joan Mueller O.S.C. (Author), Joan Mue O.S.C. (Author)



Air Travel:


By Rail, within Italy:

Leonardo Express – from the airport at Fiumicino, to Rome Termini (main train station)


Trains, Rome to/from Assisi


 By bus from Assisi train station to town:

Bus line C (“Linea C”) runs every 30 minutes from the train station. The bus stop is at the front of the Assisi railway station. Buy a ticket at the newsagent at the station for 1 euro. It is 4 km to the top, where there are two main stops , first at the Piazza Unita d´Italia (near Basilica of St Francis) and then the terminus, Piazza Matteotti. The first stop is closer to the guesthouse.

Assisi Online: Tourist Guide to Assisi


Sacred Destinations: Overview of Assisi


Assisi weather


Favorite Restaurants in Assisi



Trattoria Pallotta


Trattoria da Erminio


La Fontanella




I Monaci







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