We were parked by the road side and thinking about the great lunch we’d just had when Sandra suddenly remarked to me that she thought she could see two mediaeval pilgrims approaching us. I had my doubts about the apparition she described but I need not have doubted her. Soon we were talking to two Franciscan pilgrims who had walked all the way from Sicily.
Talking to them we discovered that the pilgrims’ task was to reach every region of Italy. Brother ‘Fratell’ Biagio Conte belongs to the Mission of Hope and Charity of Palermo. He’d already walked across the terrible areas hit by the central Italian earthquakes of last year. His companion was from Hungary.
Fratello Conte told us his mission was to bring peace and serenity to all people, especially who have been hit hardest by adversity. ‘We mustn’t lose hope whatever else happens’, he advised us. ‘Especially in these times when too often people shut themselves in, build walls and exclude others’.
It was a truly wonderful moment to meet these pilgrims on Maundy Thursday, the day before Christ suffered his Crucifixion. And it seemed that meeting these persons was almost coming across another age when Faith was greater. Seeing and talking to them decorated with the shell of Saint James, long-bearded, garbed in green and carrying our Saviour’s cross truly made our day.
‘Brother Biagio said ‘some people give us bad looks – others tell us to go to hell but it doesn’t matter to us what they think. We are bringing the Easter message of peace in the confidence that hope shall never die. Today we’ve come from Arezzo and now we’re heading for Florence.
‘What wonderful ingenuity and, indeed, bravery’, I thought. How many of us would love to discard all the clap-trap of so-called civilized life and head for the road with blind faith and a smile on our lips whatsoever may happen to us!
With this thought I wish all my devoted blog readers and their friends a VERY HAPPY EASTER!
What’s Easter but resurging earth
beyond dark season’s blight;
reliving flesh, unseeding birth,
the new day over night.
Soil’s primal violence, cracking roots,
holds shaking of the skies,
tumescence of fresh shoots,
And must they fall upon this day
that ripped the veil in two?
And shall world’s peace still yet betray
and ever war be through?
The people weep when they might joy
at life anew refound;
could love reform what hates destroy
as Christ rose from the ground?
Sins fall like bombs upon the heart
and tear away its breath:
where is the strength, so far apart,
to conquer living death?