Julianna Rauf ’19
During the winter break, Siena students kicked off the New Year with a captivating experience in Italy as members of Fr. Mark Reamer’s Franciscan Mission, Tradition Transformed class. Circling around Siena, Florence, Cortona, Assisi, Greccio, Roma, and all the beautiful places in between, the Saints brought back many life lessons with them and grew closer to the Franciscan tradition.
Accompanied by Fr. Larry Anderson, O.F.M., College chaplain, and Brother Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., Ph.D., president of the College, Britt Haas, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of First Year Seminar and Kate Kaufman Burns, director of health promotion, Fr. Mark was able to bring their classwork to life with a pilgrimage to Italy.
They not only learned about the lives of St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Bernardine and St. Catherine, they were able to walk through the Saints' history.
“We've walked in the footsteps of St. Francis, St. Clare, and St. Bernardine in a way that is indescribable. I never would have imagined that I would have the opportunity to grow so much spiritually,” said Bill Mayer ’18.
In addition to learning about the lives of dignified saints and patrons, Siena students were able to practice their spirituality by visiting numerous churches and holy sites throughout the country. The class visited the Dominican Church of St. Catherine of Siena, Santa Maria dei Fiori Cathedral, Franciscan Basilica of Santa Croce, Basilica of Santa Chiara, Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, the tomb of St. Peter, and many more spiritual and historical sites that signify the beauty and strength of the Franciscan tradition.
Although educational and spiritually enlightening, they were also able to visit some of Italy's most historic sites; Florence American Cemetery, Michelangelo’s David, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and many more.
“The most meaningful experience I [had was] when we visited the mountain Saint Francis walked… It was an experience of a lifetime that I will never forget as it touched me to the core due to the exercise we did, in which we had to touch a tree and leave all of the things keeping us back from achieving our dreams and mission in this world,” said Gloria Rosario ’19.
Perhaps the best way to end such a life-changing trip was visiting the Church of Ara Coeli (Alter of Heaven).
“The last place the students in the Franciscan Mission, Tradition Transformed class visited was the Church of Ara Coeli… The 11th c. church was given to the Franciscans by the Benedictines in the 1250s,” said Br. Ed Coughlin. “When the State of Italy was formed in the 1860s a significant portion of the Franciscan property was confiscated and the Victory Emmanuel Monument was built next to the church—as the Italians like to say: The altar of heaven as replaced by the "altar of the state"! It was 62 degrees with a bright sun—a great way to say goodbye (arrivederchi) to Italy!”
The students who attended the pilgrimage returned to campus with a renewed idea of what Siena's Franciscan tradition really means.
“Taking this challenge to travel thousands of miles away from home was the dare I made to myself. I have been exposed to the beauty of the world now and I wouldn’t change that for [anything],” said student Habiba Menko ’19.