Tour In the steps of San Francesco da Paola (8 days/7 nights)
SAN FRANCESCO DA PAOLA (27 March 1416 – 2 April 1507)
The life: Founder of the Order of the Minims, main patron of Calabria and the sea people.
Francesco Martolilla, known as Saint Francesco from Paola in all over the world, was a hermit and founder of the Order of the Minims. He spent his life in Calabria and the last years in Plessis-les-Tours, in France. Francis lived in a very harmonious and balanced relationship with nature in which he celebrated the presence of God. Since his youth he had walked a lot. The reasons for these journeys were various: pilgrimages, journeys to reach different places where he founded convents, or transfers like the one that led him to leave Calabria to reach France.
Giacomo Martolilla and Vienna da Fuscaldo, named their child Francesco because of their devotion to the Saint of Assisi, to whose intercessions they commended themselves to have a son after having remained childless for years after their wedding. Again they had recourse to Francis of Assisi and made a vow when the newborn baby showed a serious malfunction in one eye.
Just adolescent Francesco was accompanied by his parents to the convent of San Marco Argentano, a Franciscan convent, to spend a year as an oblate, carrying out every humble service. At the end of the period he expressed the desire to go to Assisi to invoke his saint patron to make him understand his vocation.
Hermit and Founder
Returning to Paola, the will of God was clearer to him: Francesco was determined to be a hermit. He was still a teenager, but with firm belief, he retired to the place where now stands the Sanctuary of Paola. There he sought contemplation in the solitude of a cave. However, the Lord upset the resolutions of a solitary life and pushed him towards the others. After about 5 years of solitude Francis together with the first companions attracted by this austere lifestyle began the construction of the hermitage of Paola (others were arisen later in Paternò Calabro, Spezzano, Corigliano and Milazzo) to welcome the faithfuls.
What initially was a single penitential movement became a congregation recognized by the Church, later called the Order of Minims, rapidly spread throughout Europe. Francesco of Paola’s religious family is distinguished by the vow of perpetual life together with obedience, poverty and chastity. A good friar’s life was characterized by a profound dedication to God and to others, which was manifested itself in prayer, in welcoming, in solidarity and courage to raise the voice against the powerful who oppressed the poor and defenseless with oppressive politics.
(the following program is purely indicative, and can be modified if requested)
Arrival and accommodation in the reserved rooms. Dinner and overnight.
Day Two: PAOLA
Breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Paola. The whole day is dedicated to celebrations and a to a guided tour of the places where the saint lived: the Sanctuary and the new church, the cloister, the hollow of the relics, the furnace where the saint worked out miracles, the ancient Romitorio built by St. Francesco, the fountain of the “cucchiarella” and the bridge of the devil. Exclusively, according to availability, the guide will be accompanied by a member of the Order of the Minims who will lead the pilgrims inside the places closed for centuries for protective reasons, which belonged to the very restricted life of the magic saint like the cell in which St. Francesco brought his nephew back to life. Lunch at a restaurant. In the afternoon: celebration of the Saint Mess and Via Crucis (based on availability) or a free afternoon. Return to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Dat Three: SAN MARCO ARGENTANO E PATERNO CALABRO
Breakfast and leave for S. M. Argentano of Padova, a convent of minor friars. It is one of the first Franciscan convents built in Calabria in the 12th century and hosted St. Francesco from Paola in the years of 1429/30. Right here the Saint gave the first miraculous signs: in the convent the window of his cell in which he lived is preserved. Visit to the oratory of Benedetta, in which the little cave can be found where he spent hours to pray. Visit to the Cathedral (it is possible to celebrate the Saint mess in the beautiful crypt from the 11th century). Lunch in a farmhouse or in a typical restaurant. Leave for Paterno Calabro where Francesco from Paola lived and worked in holiness for 40 years. The Sanctuary is a silent but alive testimony of his presence, built by the will of the miracle worker in 1444. Visit to the Sanctuary. Return to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day Four: CORIGLIANO – ROSSANO
Breakfast and leave for Corigliano where St. Francesco founded the current convent of the Minims and began the construction of the church later dedicated to him. We continue visiting other particularly interesting places like the hermitage of Franceschiello (the little church currently transformed into a hermitage which was the saint’s first residence, preserves inside the rock that served as a cushion for St. Francesco), the Matrice Church, the Parish Church of S. Pietro, the Sanctuary of S. Mariadi Illirico and the Castle. Lunch in a farmhouse or a typical restaurant. Leave for Rossano. Visit to the ruins of the S. Angelo Castle and the S. Marco Church (with the possibility to participate in the Saint Mess). In the Archbishop’s Palace there is the headquarter of the Diocesan Museum which houses the Codex Purpureus, the most ancient of the Christian evangeliaries. Visit to the S. Bernardino Church (founded in 1328 by P.P. Minori Francescani) and the cathedral of Assunta. Possibility to participate in the Saint Mess. Return to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day Five: SPEZZANO DELLA SILA – SAN GIOVANNI IN FIORE
Breakfast and leave for the visito f the Sanctuary of Spezzano della Sila, the third convent built by St. Francesco present during its construction. It was one of the richest of the Order of Minims but because of the Napoleonic suppression in 1809 lost most of its values especially the works preserved in the library that kept more than 2000 volumes. In the afternoon visit to San Giovanni in Fiore to Abbazia Florense in the historical center built between 1189 and 1198 by the abbot Gioacchino da Fiore, arrived in this area to search for a new source of spirituality and to found the first Florence order.
Day Six: CATANZARO – MARCELLINARA
We continue our journey to reach the headquarter, Catanzaro. Four small jewels placed along the border between high craftsmanship and art, given the marked personality of those who made them over 300 years ago. They are four rare ceroplastic compositions modeled in the 17th century by the Neapolitan nun Caterina de Julianis, mounted in special wooden and glass cases (scarabattoli) and kept until today in the Basilica of Maria SS. Immacolata of Catanzaro in Calabria: the “Adoration of the Pastors”, the “Adoration of the Magi”, “Memento Mori” and the “Deposition of Christ”. They remained here for a long time exposed on the lateral walls but almost invisible considering the height in which they were positioned. Now they are located near the archbishop palace in a building open to the public.
Day Seven: SERRA SAN BRUNO E LA CERTOSA
Breakfast and leave for S.S.Bruno. Visit to S.S.Bruno, Matrice Church, the Certosa Museum and the Sanctuary of S. Maria in the wood. Lunch at a restaurant or in a farmhouse. Free time for a walk in the wood in S.B. return to the hotel, dinner and overnight.
Day Eight: PARTENZA
Breakfast at the hotel. Check-out and transfer to the airport.