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La Verna

La Verna2Our journey ends at La Verna, site of deep importance to Francis and to the entire Christian tradition. The land here was given to Francis in 1213, as a place “apt for spiritual retreat and renewal.” During his first visit here, the tradition speaks of Francis’ experience of Christ speaking with him tenderly in friendship.

Toward the end of his life, in 1224, Francis returned to La Verna for a period of 40 days’ prayer and fasting. It is this stay that has been immortalized in art and literature as the full realization of Francis’ partnership with Christ. We call it the “stigmatization,” the sharing of Christ’s wounds on the cross. In his description of this moment in Francis’ life, Bonaventure describes how Francis’ ardent love for God now literally burst forth from his body and the union of the two was made incarnate.

Surrounded by the piercing beauty of the Casentine National Forest, our stay at La Verna makes it easy to settle into the loving embrace of God.

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About the author
Gillian Ahlgren
Dr. Ahlgren has been teaching the Christian mystical tradition to college-age students, graduate students, and adult learners for over 26 years. She is an internationally-recognized scholar of the tradition, an experienced spiritual director, and engages a regular practice of contemplative prayer. A popular teacher, public speaker and writer, she also gives several retreats per year. She is the Founding Director of Xavier University’s Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice.