Friday, July 31, 2009

The Pilgrimage Posts: Peaceful Pollone

On Friday, July 3rd, the eve of Pier Giorgio’s feast day, we set off for the Frassati family villa in Pollone. This is by far my favorite Pier Giorgio place. Our day would be blessed from start to finish but it began with an unexpected travel adventure involving our big bus and the narrow Italian streets!

Our excellent driver Rosario relied on his GPS throughout our trip. Unfortunately, the route it gave him on this leg of the journey led us onto very narrow and steep roads that were not at all suited for a large bus. Oncoming cars had to back up quite a way to let us pass and we were barely avoiding the walls of houses and the protruding balconies.

The situation was stressful and it looked like we might even get stuck. At that point, I asked the group to pray and our priest, Father Gary, began to lead the rosary. Almost miraculously, with each prayer the streets began to widen! Eventually, we arrived at a much better road and were able to continue safely on to Pollone. The streets there are also narrow and impassable by bus, so our driver let us out in front of the entrance gates.

Pier Giorgio’s niece Wanda was there to greet us and get everyone situated in their rooms. It was a special gift of the Frassati family to allow us to stay at the villa. What a privilege to be in the house where Pier Giorgio and his family spent so much time. We walked through his beloved flower gardens behind the house and then went for a little walk through Pollone.

Our first stop was the cemetery and the original tomb of Pier Giorgio. Pope John Paul II visited this spot in 1989, prior to the beatification of Pier Giorgio. He prayed in the crypt for 20 minutes, along with Pier Giorgio’s sister Luciana. In 1990, after the beatification, Pier Giorgio's body was moved to the cathedral in Turin. After Luciana's death in 2007, at the age of 105, her coffin was placed in the same spot once occupied by Pier Giorgio. Before leaving the crypt, we took time to pray the De Profundis for Luciana and all of the deceased members of the Frassati family.

After a good lunch at the local restaurant, we walked toward the Cangio Church. It’s official name is the church of Saints Fabian and Sebastian. It was in this church that the proceedings for Pier Giorgio’s baptism were completed. The local parish priest, Don Mario, kindly came to meet us and opened the church for us. We prayed the seventh day of our group novena inside this small, old church that Pier Giorgio often visited. Our walking tour of Pollone then took us to the plaza for the Parco Burcino – a beautiful park – and then past the Holy Spirit Church and the local parish church known as La Parrocchia. There is a small plaza there with a beautiful view and we stopped to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Back at the villa, Wanda showed us all the newspaper from the nearest town. It had a nice article about our arrival and our pilgrimage itinerary. Quite surreal! Shortly afterward, we had one of the most beautiful Masses of our trip – in the room where Pier Giorgio died. Another of Pier Giorgio’s nieces (Nella) was present and Father gave a nice reflection on the Beatitudes.

Following Mass, we had our first home-cooked meal in days! It was delicious and a lot of fun spending time with Nella at our table. After dinner, we sat outside under one of the huge trees on the grounds. It was really a special time for our group and, again, I could sense Pier Giorgio’s joy at that moment. Here we were, a group of strangers united only by our common love for him, enjoying a wonderful day of faith and fellowship with members of his own family. I don’t know how much more special a day could be. However, we will try to surpass it on our last day of the trip in the only way possible -- an ambitious climb to the top of Mount Mucrone! Until then…Verso l’alto!


Anonymous said...

I am extremely grateful to Wanda for being so generous to us all. She was also kind enough to share with us Pier Giorgio's pictures, collections and many of his personal items. It was an unbelievable experience to be staying at the same house where Blessed Pier Giorgio used to live at.

My sister and I stayed at what used to be his father's room. It has a beautiful balcony that sort of reminds me of my grandmother's balcony abroad. Going to Pier Giorgio's family cemetery, having lunch at a local restaurant visting the churches were all unforgettable experiences. But the best was the dinner experience at the villa during our first day. Wanda had prepared 2 kinds of pasta for us as well as a little bit of salad. Of course wines and sodas were not missing. And we had ice cream for dessert. Then we all relaxed at the benches outside the house to talk about Pier Giorgio with Wanda and Nella. It was a wonderful time. That night though there was a little incident with the lights. I went inside Pier Giorgio's (Turin) room to placed my prayer request. There was no lights there. But finding out that Jacinta was prayering in that room, I went to his other room. But the lights were off there also. I stayed there for sometime to pray. After a while I feel someone's presence there, so I decided to leave. As I was at the hallway, my sister just opened the bathroom door and looked at me. Just when she was about to turn off the bathroom lights, all lights went off the entire house. I was a little surprise but my sister was really scared and started calling me. Jacinta came out of the Pier Giorgio's room and asked what was happening. I did not know whether to go on Jacinta's direction or my sister's! Thinking back now I am not quite sure if that was the reason I could not sleep rightaway that first night. There was a little kneeler at our room and it's always been my habit to carry little pocket statues with me. So I placed my little statues there before my nighttime prayer and I think it helped me to sleep that night. Our last night spent in Pollone was the most beautiful for me. That night, after the group from france have left and after saying our 8th day novena as well as saying goodbye to 2 of our pilgrims. I was reflecting about all the things that had transpired and experienced in this pilgrimage. My sister was eager to go to sleep. But I couldn't go to sleep yet and when I accidentaly looked up at the sky I was in awe of what I saw. The moon was shinning so bright it was like a mirror and the stars are like sparkling little diamonds thrown on black velvet. It made me think seriously of how much GOD loves us. HE created all these things for us. It was one of the most beautiful nights I've known. Then I thought of how many lives this moon have seen including Pier Giorgio's, and the many saints of the past... And realized how beautiful the promise of the future for each one of us who has love and faith in GOD.

Christie Fleming said...

I am planning a pilgrimage here, is it possible to get in contact to stay in Pollone?