Before leaving Italy a few days ago, I visited Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis, nestled about 90 miles north of Rome in the rolling hills of Umbria. This town called “City of Peace” is filled with sacred monuments and has been named a World Heritage Site. Yet it was the serene streets, vistas of vineyards and olive trees, and gentle people resolutely accomplishing their daily labors that spoke to me.
There was an Italian train strike that day, and the trip from Rome was filled with stops and starts. By the end of the journey, all of us on the train had become family, looking out for one another and making connections that transcended boundaries of culture, language and creed. When we finally arrived, each went off to follow his or her own itinerary. I was content simply to walk, chat with the locals, and marvel at the PEACE that St. Francis, Pope Francis, and numerous people like those I had met on the train share everyday in unpretentious ways. Praying at his tomb, I asked Francis to teach us all to be instruments of the PEACE of Christ wherever we are.