Poetry from Pilgrims


Over the years we have received many poems and songs from our pilgrims either while on pilgrimage or just after returning home.  

PILGRIMS by Sr. Teresa Noser, OSF

Rooted in now
That intersects time and eternity
“At the still point of the turning world
In the rose garden” (T.S. Eliot)
My being reaches out to beyond forever
From the moment of earth’s creation.
From Etruscan tombs
Below the Roman buildings
Into the Middle Ages
Of stone, pink and white,
Assisi stretches its arms
From San Francesco Basilica
To the tomb of Santa Chiara,
From St. Mary of the Angels To San Damiano,
Embracing stories of women and men
Walking in the footprints of Jesus.
They left churches and ringing belfries
And sacred stones for us to kiss,
One where Clare clung to the altar for sanctuary. They left the Portiuncula
Where we too can pray, now,
And Clare’s sweet little garden
Full of pots of flowers
Where she tended the dying Saint
With gentleness and reverence.
They left Minerva’s temple
To become a beautiful baroque chapel
To honor lovely Mother Mary
With angels floating all around. 

They left piazzas where we can gather in awe
With cappuccino and a friend
As the sun sets blazing
Across the Umbrian valley.
They left San Rufino where babies
Still are baptized in the font
Where Clare and Francis and their families and friends Leaped to life in Christ
Out of the stirred waters.
And we can learn their stories
In frescoes on every wall and in the marble miracles Carved from stone those many years ago,
And rose windows round and gleaming in the morning sun.

We climb up mountains forest fresh
To the caves where God’s whisper
Pierced the hearts of Friars
In contemplation.
We climb La Verna’s peaks
Where Leo waited breathlessly
While a seraph brought the Christ
To pierce the flesh of his other self in Francis.

We dine with wine, laughter and awe
Retelling the day’s surprises
As the Pilgrimage ekes out its blessings.
We pray with our feet
Weary from cobblestones, steps and
Mountains’ ups and downs.
We wonder at the age-old olive gardens
And taste the grapes from arbors
Tended now by descendants grateful for
The plantings of the past.

So we, too, pilgrims returning home
Above the snowy Alps
Share gratitude, wonder and awe
For all we saw and touched and prayed.

We will forever lift up with grateful hearts
The joy we share with all of you who have been there And all who we hope will go someday
To know the joy.
May God give you peace because
We prayed for you in all the sacred places.
Buon Giorno..buona sera!!!
May God give you Peace. Amen. So be it.


Traveling On Pilgrimage

How will we gaze on you oh Lord                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Help us consider your love for all                                                                                                                                                                                                                   As we contemplate your face oh Lord                                                                                                                                                                                                            So as to imitate you.
May we invite God along with us                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As we travel on in faith
Trusting God’s love with open hearts                                                                                                                                                                                                     Bringing hope to our world.
Faithful children in eremo
Grateful to our mothers and guides                                                                                                                                                                                                                May Francis and Clare abide with us As we do what is ours to do.

THE CAVE NEAR ASSISI By: Viki Borokowski

I never understood before
Why Francis chose a cave-
A cold, dark choice indeed!
But, figuring he knew what he was doing I sat down, crossed my legs,
And closed my eyes.
“Come, my Love…”
Then the silence thundered
And the darkness began to burn-
More than just the bushes
Were on fire in that place!
Heaven bent to kiss the earth.
And there we stood
Face to face, heart to heart,
Cross to cross, wound to wound; Touching…joining…holding…                                                                                                                                                                Love and life flowed back and forth Like some strange, relentless tide
Moved by the heartbeat of God
Across the sea of eternity.
I into you and you into me,
We flowed into each other
And then together were poured out, Watering the garden of creation.
I am yours and you are mine,
Forever yours…forever… And now I know exactly why
Francis chose a cave! 

Christmas on the Franciscan Study Pilgrimage

T’was the night before Christmas And all through the city,
Eight pilgrims were running
On escapade witty.

On leaving St. John’s
On the back of the bus,
They came to the Colosseum Without any fuss.

They rushed inside
with a minute to go.
Tom grabbed a rock
As the guard yelled, “Sprinto!”

Now time for the photos
Via the Forum.
Then on to Emmanuel’s Piazza
In religious decorum.

For Fermata 64
They searched high and low,
Til Larry volunteered
Through the traffic to go.
When what to their wandering Eyes should appear –
With Larry mid-traffic –
“64 is here!”

In chorus they cried,
“Return, O Larry!”
But onward he dodged,
With nary a tarry.

Til, having reached
The other side,
He made his way back,
but, too late, arrived.

They waited some moments
Til the next bus came,
Then punched and shoved Through the door without shame.

“Avante!” they sped
Along the via
To San Andrea della Valle –
O Mamma Mia!

In minutes they arrived
And pushed to “USCITA”,
To celebrate “Cena”
At Ristorante Panzoni.

Antipasto, spaghetti,
Cannelloni and veal,
Tortellini, gelata,
Vino – what a meal!

After dessert
They headed for home:
Four in a taxi
They hoped wouldn’t tour Rome.

The other four
More adventuresome grew,
And chanced a ride
On bus 62.

All eight arrived safely
at “Suore Teatine”,
To wash out and to pack
To sleep, perchance to dream.

For Christmas was only
A few hours away;
And they planned in Greccio
To celebrate the day.

If André and Vianney
are doubting this night,
“Secundum Traditione”
God knows it is right!

To Be a Pilgrim

To be a pilgrim is to trust in grace-filled
To be a pilgrim is to let the world
be as it is.
To be a pilgrim is to embrace difficulties
and dangers.
To be a pilgrim is to wander wide-eyed
in wonder.
To be a pilgrim is to shake off dusty
To be a pilgrim is to strip away
whatever isolates and insulates.
To be a pilgrim is to tread gently
through tourist traps and distractions.
To be a pilgrim is to transform the internal
through immersing in the external.
To be a pilgrim is to accept insignificance
in the midst of multitudes.
To be a pilgrim is to lose oneself by
plunging into the unfamiliar.
To be a pilgrim is to hold hands with
uncertainty and confusion.
To be a pilgrim is to share one’s heart
and humanity when spoken words stumble.
To be a pilgrim is to continue the
journey until one collapses into compassion.To be a pilgrim is to appear the convincing fool joyfully.
To be a pilgrim is to go up and down until one finally falls into surrender. To be a pilgrim is to allow those who have gone before reveal the way.

With Gratitude the
30 day fools.

Brother Bonaventure to the FPP by Fr. Bob Barbato, OFM Cap

Sisters, brothers: Peace!
I see you sit and grapple,
struggle with
the joyful beauty of plans,
Eager to construct
Well-ordered, simple, secure

I smile with you-
For don’t we quickly learn
The fragility of our plans,
How the Spirit, not so gently,
Shatters securities and upends order?

Recall how my own well-ordered
My academic road to God
Vanished in that breathless message:
“You are now minister general!”
At that moment
The roadbed of my journey,
The spiritual rock of my life
Melted into chaos
Of thousands upon thousands–
The good, the bad, the in-between–
Thrust upon my trembling shoulders.

My peaceful, well-planned
Became a twisted road to Calvary
Agony that led me to climb
That other mountain:
Mystical mountain of desperate dreamers
With plans to seek my escape.

Sisters, I longed, I desired
I panted for peace!
I was ready, brothers,
To recoil, to renounce, to reject
That road of endless crises
That daily journey amid
All too human weakness!

The answer came
On that mystic mountain,
(To my delight and my dismay)
In a vision that said: JOURNEY ON.

For Peace, it seems,
on a Spirit-led journey
Is not to be found
In well-ordered plans,
Exquisitely executed
(not in well plotted conferences
or well-timed buses.)

The vision insisted:
“Embrace your
Not merely
But as it is meant to be: IN DEUM.”

Such a little nuance of grammar
A simple change of case
Taught this scholastic a lesson
All pilgrims must learn:

Our journey in faith is not so much
(Faith, it seems,
Is not so much propositional
As prepositional.)

My heart,
resenting, resisting, rebelling
was thrust into this

(And slowly the road of my Calvary
Led through Tabor
To Mount Zion)

For this is true pilgrimage:
To let your
Be drawn to a
Into the divine darkness,
Into the ardent fire
Into the very center and circumference,

Hence, my advice to you, brothers, sisters:
Let each journey you plan,
Each pilgrimage you embrace
(Study, leadership, breather)
That ultimate journey:

Each of your Pilgrimages,
Dearest sisters, beloved brothers
Are daring raids
Into divine Darkness
Bold embraces
Of the ardent fire.
Journeys outward, inward, upward.

For this
Francis, so bold yet so courteous
Lady Clare, so submissive yet so audacious
Extend a helping hand and
a blessing.

They walked ahead of us
On a road that
offers no guarantees
Yet promises everything.

They journey with us now,
for we never walk a pilgrim road alone
We journey with the One who dwelt among us
And sent us out two by two.

As they did, as I did,
You will walk along an uncertain road with
Those who hold you back,
Those who walk at your side,
And those who, by Spirit’s grace,
Are ready to drag you forward.

n all your planning,
Never lose sight
(As I almost did),
That you are walking with them
And that such a perilous journey into
Is best made by those
who hold each other’s hands
And huddle together in the warmth of that

Clare invites you
Francis entices you
I pray for you:

May your own
Be thrice blessed.

As you journey
Cast a kindly eye toward me
Your brother with you on this

Searching for God's Grace

Some inhabit, yet
Move outside of time.
Fear has no hold on these.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They care too much for worry.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Attracting God’s grace
They hurry his plan.
Glory seeps through them                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Searching out the lost and alone                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Bidding home, to share this light                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And be warm.

My Heart's Journey

The Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 2, Verse 34 quotes our Lord:

For where your treasure is, There also will your heart be.

Where has my treasure been, and where is it now?
It has been rooted in love of family.
It still is.
It has been found in the pride of heritage as defined by DaVinci, Dante and DiMaggio. It still is.
It was in the pursuit of status and career.
It no longer is.
It was in the conquest of women.
It no longer is.
It was in the desire to do it “my way”.
Now, it is in the need to do it His way.
It was in the seeking of a love that does not exist.
Now, it is sharing in the love that is all around me.
It was in fearing Jesus and hiding from Him.
Now, it is in knowing Jesus and residing in Him,
And, Him in me.
It was in living life as an end in itself.
Now, it is in loving life as the means to eternal union with my Creator.
La Festa di San Francesco
4 Ottobre, 1999
In my new home, Assisi
Domenick Morda

Dedicated to my fellow pilgrims
In the “Assisi Experience”
Each of whom has expanded my heart
To provide a space where he or she may dwell.

Remembering Assisi by Sr. Marie-Claire, OSC

Assisi –
rising majestically
on the densely wooded slopes of Mount Subasio,
above the early morning mist shrouding the Spoleto Valley.
Assisi –
in air, crystal clear,
ice blue sky domed above
filled with hundreds of swallows,
darting and swooping,
flying in celebration of joyous freedom.
If only my soul could fly so freely!
Assisi –
cobbled, narrow streets
echoing the sounds of distant times,
golden honey and delicate pink coloured stones
of walls and houses,
speckled with baskets and pots of blood red geraniums; doorways arched with the heavy scent of jasmine,
tell the story of the little poor man,
Knight of Lady Poverty and Champion of the Tau;
whose presence and spirituality
still breathes in the city and its citizens.
Assisi and Francesco are one.
Francesco of Assisi,
whose love for Christ was so deep and total,
that he humbly received the wounds of the Crucifixion there in that sacred space of Mount La Verna.
Francesco –
lover of life and of all creation,
living with his brothers
in a fraternity of loving relationship.
Francesco –
man of the remote caves of the Carceri,
man of deep solitude wherever he was –
but yet, never alone –
always in fraternitas;
showing that each of us is
an ultimate solitude before God.
Assisi and Francesco are one.

Assisi –
in the stillness of moonlit streets,
the hasty footsteps of the Lady Chiara resound
making her silent, lonely journey
beneath a dark blue velvet, star-studded sky,
through hidden alleyways,
out, away from the security of the city walls,
down to the plain where only
the lepers live in disgrace and in premature death;
to the warmth of the little portion –
the humble chapel of Our Lady of the Angels
now preserved for all time under the protection of a great basilica, where Chiara became the little plant of Francesco
and made her solemn commitment
to follow the Gospel Life in his way.
Assisi, Francesco and Chiara are one.
Chiara –
there in the tiny monastery of San Damiano,
like a beacon
nestled among the olive groves
where once Christ spoke from the icon to Francesco
and he in humble obedience rebuilt the broken walls of the Church, you lived your life of Christ-like poverty in the shadow of Assisi, your light and your prayers touching it
and the many pilgrims throughout the centuries.
Chiara –
your enclosure was Jesus, the Son of God Himself.
And in that place where your soul left this world,
your motherly embrace touched my being.
Assisi, Francesco and Chiara are one.
The memory of you is carried for ever in my heart
as you continue to call to me across the miles,
calling me to sow the seed of love in my virgin soil,
birthing Christ once more in our broken world,
so that I too, like you, will soar like the swallows,
resting my soul on the Spirit’s wings
in union with my Beloved.
By Sr. Marie-Claire, OSC
June 2011


Canterbury Tales of the Franciscan Pilgrims – July 2006

When fair July with her showers sweet
Bathes every vein in liquor rare
From which the flower is engendered there,
And little birds are making melody,

That sleep with open eye through all the night,
And hops in Kent are reaching their full height, Then people long on pilgrimage to start.
Franciscans long to visit foreign strands,
To hallowed places known in sundry lands,
And specially from every shire’s end
Of England, and from America’s shore,
Off to Canterbury they wend
The holy Franciscan Center for to seek
Whom many will instruct for a week and more.
So, to Canterbury with heart and soul devout
On Thursday was come into that hostelry
Full six-and-twenty in a company
And more, and less, of sundry folk are called
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all.
Two friars bid them welcome to this place
When Richard, ever helpful, with meet grace
In van delivered every pilgrim there.
These Friars by name André and Philippe
Both worthy men who planned the pilgrims’ feast Of knowledge and wisdom, like to yeast
That leavens the whole loaf for great and least.
On Friday to the Greyfriars’ ancient hall
In Canterbury trooped one and all,
Where Brother Colin, Brother Austin vied
To share fraternity – and tea beside.
On Saturday to Oxford town we went
To hear of Scotus from Professor Cross
And then partook of sumptuous noonday fare
With Brother Charles and welcoming Brothers there.
On Sunday, comely tracts on our now-famous Scotus put forth by Brother Seamus,
Ere off with Canterbury’s Canon Clare
On candlelight procession dark we dare.
On Monday, Paula Pearce of Peckham told
And Philippe on grim contentions olde,
While Colin on a daytime visit led us
And on Cathedral lore and history fed us. 

Haymo of Faversham – pray, who is he?
And what St. Mary of Charity?
Dawn Smith enlightens one and all
On Haymo’s role in liturgical revision.
Again Philippe reviews our overall
Purpose: Our Intellectual Tradition.
Could anyone resist the breathing space
Of visit to seashore in Herne Bay’s place?
Now fare we forth to merry Cambridge Town,
A city of great scholarly renown,
Where pondered we the ways of Albert’s School
In sending visitators to ensure the Friars’ Rule.
What say we now of Bacon, scientist?
Whose studies in astronomy, maths and optics. Amanda Powers opened to our eager company
The secrets of this integrated scholar’s life.
Our Thursday is a veritable banquet
Beginning in the tiny Ockham hamlet
Professor Hughes led us in logical sequence
Through syllogisms of p and q and r.
We wonder: Did Ockham shave here?
Now share we charming Chilworth place
Made famous for its training in God’s grace
So many present friars; hallowed by length and breadth Of Eric Doyle’s exemplar life and death.
Remains one site now – London, near to which Original friars settled in Greenwich,
Philippe’s historic retrospect regales
Us with Davenport’s reconciliation tales.
So on the Thames to Westminster we come
To sample sights of London ere we go home, Recounting the rich days we pilgrims spent
In savoring our faith heritage in Kent
And savoring yet again another feast
Which our aficionado chefs prepare
With loving touch and culinary care.
And so, tonight in right festive mood
Acclaim the glories of Franciscanhood,
And thank our gracious leaders, André and Philippe. Let’s have a cheer – Hip-Hip-Hooray!

Pilgrim Ploy by Sister Foster, OSF

I can see it still
Hanging out the window sill Gazing Umbrian style
Brazen in blue and dew Awaiting clarity O’ valley haze.
In the cobble-stoned
Pink brick street channels Umbrians sell their wares
While Francis and Clare
Claim the town down all avenues.
Mystical touch tendered tune Music and mountain mirror Reflections of depth and desire Communicated ‘per’ one day by another through another in another.            Today in Gratitude
For ‘You’ un messagerio a mentor
un maestro eine Geheimnis

Songs from Pilgrims

O Little Town of Greccio by Fr. Ron Rocky, OFM Conv.

O Little Town of Greccio / near the ancient Rieti /
Poor Francis praised the Lord Most High / In stark simplicity. /
He gathered all good people / Up to the hermit cave, /
And with his friends on Christmas night / A ritual he gave.
He built a real stable / With ox and ass and hay. /
He brought a sleeping baby doll / So “mother” he could play. /
He held the Babe so tender / Just like old Joseph’s wife. /
Folks still tell the story: / “The Baby came to life.”
O’er Bethlehem and Greccio / The stars above still shine. /
Saint Francis gives the Mystery / To arid hearts who pine, /
So people of all nations / Of languages and race /
Can look upon the Virgin’s Child / And “goo-goo” in His face.


Thank You Andre by Fr. Ron Rocky, OFM Conv.

(sung to the tune of “Be Not Afraid”)

Response: Thank you André, / Dear Tom and Hedy for your “Mothering” us. /
We’re filled with gratitude.
(1) In old Roma we saw Saint Peter’s / But we didn’t see the Pope. /
In Rieti we had a Christmas / with songs and pilgrim hope. /
In Assisi we looked for Francis and Clare / and every place they slept. /
We’re taking Franciscana home with us.
(2)We shall leave this holy city / of Clare and Francis’ birth. /
We shall leave Don Aldo’s castle / with all our souvenirs. /
We shall take with us all our notes and Pilgrim’s Companion. /
We will great good people everyone
(3)When we pass by Customs Agents / We have nothing to declare. /
When we board the plane to fly home / Remember to say a prayer. /
When we bid farewell face to face / Smile and shed a tear. /
Remember they serve coffee on SwissAir!
(4) ‘Cause Tom’s shoes wore out on the paths / We walked with him in joy. /
‘Cause André’s book with all its quotes / Guides every girl and boy. /
‘Cause Hedy’s mirror reflects on us / Of Francis and Clare. /
This Pilgrimage is with us everywhere.

12 Days of Pilgrimage

On the 1st day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Enjoy a siesta today.

On the 2nd day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 3rd day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 4th day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Count your lira
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 5th day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Assisi, we’ve come home!
Count your lira
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 6th day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Pasta at Pranzo
Assisi, we’ve come home!
Count your lira
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 7th day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Give food to Finian
Pasta at Pranzo
Assisi, we’ve come home!
Count your lira
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 8th day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Clear plates to kitchen
Give food to Finian
Pasta at Pranzo
Assisi, we’ve come home!
Count your lira
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 9th day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Be home by 11:00
Clear plates to kitchen
Give food to Finian
Pasta at Pranzo
Assisi, we’ve come home!
Count your lira
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 10th day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Reverence Holy ground
Be home by 11:00
Clear plates to kitchen
Give food to Finian
Pasta at Pranzo
Assisi, we’ve come home!
Count your lira
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 11th day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Remember “su” goes “ju”
Reverence Holy ground
Be home by 11:00
Clear plates to kitchen
Give food to Finian
Pasta at Pranzo
Assisi, we’ve come home!
Count your lira
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

On the 12th day of pilgrimage, our leaders said to us:
Gelato at Minerva
Remember “su” goes “ju”
Reverence Holy ground
Be home by 11:00
Clear plates to kitchen
Give food to Finian
Pasta at Pranzo
Assisi, we’ve come home!
Count your lira
Use toilet brushes
Drink lots of water
Enjoy a siesta, and we sing GRATIAS to a fine team.

All Pilgrims Now Come Board the Bus! by Fr. Ron Rocky, OFM Conv.

(sung to the tune of “All Creatures of our God and King”)

All Pilgrims follow Brother Tom. / Climb to the cave at Fonte Colomb. /
Re-e-new vows! / Re-e-new vows! /
This mendicant kind of love / By holy “Fountain of the Dove” /
Recommit now! / Recommit now! /
Party later! / Party later! / Party later!
Sing praise for holy poverty. / Explained by Brother André. /
No you cannot – / – keep the Porsche! /
O’ giving up the Visa card / makes shopping now so extra hard. /
Benefactors / Benefactors /
Buy you anything, / Buy you anything, / your heart desires.
Trust the Most High for Chastity. / Joanne can speak so lovingly. /
Take a shower. / Wear a hair shirt. /
Be intimate with God Most High. / To mortal flesh we all must die. /
Every hour! / Every hour!
Gaze upon Christ. / Consider Christ. / Contemplate Christ!
Obey the Lord with every part / Of your seraphic Earthly heart. /
Pray the Office. / Never sleep late. /
O’ burning will that wants to do / what mortal flesh alone can’t do. /
Follow Jesus / With Francesco. /
Alleluia! / Alleluia! / Alleluia!
All Pilgrims now come board the bus. / Come load your bags, don’t make a fuss. /
To Assisi! / To Assisi! /
Praise God for this most blessed day. / We’re going on Francesco’s way /
To Assisi / To Assisi /
Alleluia! / Alleluia! / Alleluia!

Pilgrim Doodle Dandie by May Anne Hisnay

We’re troubadours from O-hi-o
Our group is quite brand-new-sy,
So, if we bore you with our song
You all must please ex-coo-si.
One day a band of pilgrims left
Their American-i home-a,
And flew across the ocean blue
To Assisi and Roma.
Two Padres met them and their names
Were André and Vianney,
One from the Bronx, the other from
The College of Sienn-ey.
One was fair, his words did strike
In all their hearts a spark-a,
The other dark and spirit-filled
He sang just like a lark-a.
They taught the pilgrims all about
Bernini and Gi-otto,
Secundum traditionem soon
Became the pilgrim’s motto.
They sang, they prayed, and studied well
All of the many frescoes,
That told of Santa Chiara
And the life of San Francesco.
They learned that if you went up to
The Rocca Ma-ggi-o-re,
You must be back by eleven o’clock
For then, they close the door-ay.
So when the pilgrims all return
To the good old USA,
In their hearts will always be
Vianney and André-é.
Our song is done, now go and have
Your cup of cappuccino,
Or maybe you prefer a glass
Of red or white vino.
Brothers, sisters, please recall
You are not alone-um,
We’re one Franciscan fam-i-ly,
So – Pa-ax et Bonum!

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