WORLD YOUTH DAY BLOG: Pilgrimage day 8

Maitland-Newcastle pilgrims follow in the footsteps of Saints to Cascia on day 8.

Day 8 Blog

On Thursday morning we took a short trip by minibus to Eremo Delle Carceri (St Francis’ Hermitage) where St Francis used to go in order to meditate and pray. It is stunning, with the Umbrian countryside spread out below you. It is also incredibly peaceful and after the busyness of the previous week it was lovely to be in nature and walking along pathways where Francis himself would have spent time. All the pilgrims were commenting on the serenity of this special place high in the Umbrian hills. We really are walking in the footsteps of the saints on our pilgrimage.

A little further down the hillside we arrived at San Damiano. This is where the Sisters of San Damiano (Poor Clares), St Clare’s order, lived. It is also where St Francis wrote the ‘Canticle of the Creatures’ his hymn of thanksgiving to God revealing his love of all creation.

We then travelled from Assisi to Cascia, the resting place of St Rita, Saint of the Impossible. This quaint town in Umbria houses the remains of St Rita, as well as the relic of a Eucharistic miracle that occurred in Siena in 1330. Cascia is the first town that I have been to that has escalators and lifts fitted in order to get up to the township! The view is incredible and we enjoyed a shady spot overlooking it while eating our wild boar panini. The town is also home to an incredible nativity scene that is set up to replicate Bethlehem. All the figures move and it turns from day to night. It’s exquisite. Cascia felt like a sleepy little Italian village.

We celebrated Mass in the convent chapel of the Basilica of St Rita. Again, it was a special moment for pilgrims. Deacon James spoke to us about our calling to be a source of light in the world and the need for us to present a merciful face to others. He spoke about St Augustine who lived a less than noble life before being converted by St Ambrose.

“If God can see goodness in St Augustine, then he can see goodness in all of us. He wants an openness from each of us to follow him and proclaim our faith,” said James.

Now to Roma; the Eternal City.


We are tired. We have walked and travelled a lot. It will be great to spend a few days in one place. Wi-fi is everyone’s best friend. You should see the race for the password as soon as we arrive in a new hotel! It is a regular topic of conversation. We didn’t have it for one night and we all went into a decline! Such is the need for our connection to home.


 “When I called my family and spoke to my Mum last night, after not having wi-fi for a few days, it was really special. The view from our hotel in the old town of Assisi was amazing.”
Brian Fennel-Fraser

OBSERVATIONS: Looking forward

“I’m looking forward to the all-night vigil in Krakow during WYD and sharing that experience with people who are like-minded. It will be an affirmation of my own faith to be amongst so many others who are passionate about theirs.”
Amber-Jane Parker

Joanne Isaac Image
Joanne Isaac

Joanne is a Communications Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and a regular columnist for Aurora Magazine.