Assisi – October 12

October 8: After a silent breakfast at Romita di Cesi, we made our farewells, and until mid-afternoon we took to mountain paths, not so severe as the climb up, but still, for me, hard on my knees, which required attention when we settled in Spoleto that evening. The last part of the walk was on roads to Baiano, where we took a bus to complete our journey into Spoleto where we stayed at the Catholic Centro di Pastorale Giovanile – our first night on the floor – i.e. no beds or bunks but sleeping mattresses. (The evening was occasion to celebrate AG’s birthday.) In Spoleto Benedict Avodi, (pictured below) who works for the office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, (JPIC) of the Franciscan Capuchin friars in Rome joined the pilgrimage for a few days until Assisi, (he hope to return later if possible).  Here he writes his reasons for taking part: “I joined this walk because of several reasons. First, being a Franciscan friar, I follow the values, charism and spirituality of St. Francis who loved and promoted the care of creation. His cosmic fraternity was based on treating creation with respect and dignity for each creature as our own brothers and sisters. As such he wrote the canticle of creatures that refers to each creature as brother or sister, eg. Brother sun, sister moon, etc.  Second, I am on this pilgrimage because I believe that the effects of climate change affects us all and as such we need to advocate for climate justice. Being from Kenya, Africa, I have witnessed change of climate including lack of rain, droughts, high temperatures, etc –  this has led to hunger, extreme poverty, and also internal displacement of peoples,  migration and subsequently climate refugees within and outside the country. This is also indirectly causing conflict and wars in Africa.  For example in Kenya, the pastoralist can no longer find pasture for their animals, so they have to move south where they could water their animals, this makes them to enter into conflict with the farmers who are mostly along the rivers. Third, being a Catholic, I follow the call of our pope Francis who recently released his encyclical on the “Laudato si, the Care of our common home”. In this letter to the faithful, the pope appeals to all Catholics and people of good will around the world to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Thus the effects of climate change affects all of us but more specifically the most vulnerable, the poor.

October 9: Following breakfast Yeb and Claudia Alongi, our FOCSIV travel guide through Italy, recorded social media climate messages (in English and Italian) following reports from the IPCC about the urgency of avoiding the 1.5C temperature rise agreed upon in Paris. The walk from Spoleto to Trevi was along Valle Spoletana Greenway (which concludes in Assisi). The final 6 kms were through beautiful scenic Umbrian countryside to Trevi where we had splendid rooms at the Monastero Benedettine San Lucia high up on the hillside. Townsfolk in Trevi offered not just the evening meal, but also breakfast and packed lunch for the following day. The walk on October 10 was just 6.5km to a small town outside Foligno, where we again shared a floor for overnight sleeping. An evening discussion took place with local people who shared a meal with us and also prepared us a breakfast before we set off the next morning to begin the day with about 60 students at Instituto Tecnico Industriale e Per Geometri in Fologna. The students first gathered outside as we focused on two main issues – the pilgrimage to Poland and the crisis of refugees coming to Europe as a result of climate change. Indoors for the following hour we hear from students about these issues. Two in particular, Gabriele and Simone, discuss the immigration issue “Protegger le Persone Non I Confini” (Project People not Borders). I’m hoping Simone and Gabriele (pictured with Benedict) will be able in the new year to write for the website more about the immigration issue facing Europe generally.

On reaching Assisi we stayed the night at Santa Maria Degli Angeli, just 2 km outside Assisi at a bed & breakfast. Friday morning we walked into the walled part of Assisi to find our room for the night – a floor in a very old building hidden down the alleyways. An afternoon meeting planned was at the Mayor’s offices where we also had a tutorial from Antonello Pasini, from the Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research at the National Research Council in Rome, who was able to explain, even with an Italian presentation, the current situation of climate change including the agricultural, immigration and terrorism aspects that were taking place. (Pictured: Yeb Sano with mayor of Sindaco del Comune di Assisi, Ing. Stefania Proietti)