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Pellegrinaggio Blog

Walking in the Footsteps of St. Augustine

Kevin Salemme, Merrimack’s director of media instructional services, is serving as a co-leader of the college’s 18th annual Pellegrinaggio pilgrimage, a 10-day journey to Italy in which students in Professor Joe Kelley’s “Pellegrinaggio in Italia: In Search of Augustinian Community” class visit sites of importance in the life of St. Augustine and the origin and early history of the Augustinian friars.

Salemme, a professional photographer, is keeping a photo blog of the trip, which he has agreed to share with us here.

  • Day 1: Cassago Brianza


    Today, we begin our journey in the footsteps of St. Augustine. We are in the village of Cassago Brianza, Italy, at the site of the villa of Verecundus, where Augustine retreated with his mother, son and friends to prepare for baptism in the fall and winter of the years 386 and 387. We are listening to Giuseppe Renaldi explain the significance and history of the site. Today, we begin our journey in the footsteps of St. Augustine. We are in the village of Cassago Brianza, Italy, at the site of the villa of Verecundus, where Augustine retreated with his mother, son and friends to prepare for baptism in the fall and winter of the years 386 and 387. We are listening to Giuseppe Renaldi explain the significance and history of the site.

  • Day 2: Milan


    We spent our second day exploring the city of Milan, where St. Augustine lived from 383 to 386 as the orator of the Roman Imperial Court. It was here that he finally surrendered himself in trust and love to God. He was influenced by the preaching of St. Ambrose, whose Basilica and bones we visited this morning. It was in Milan that Augustine experienced his famous Tolle Lege moment. This photo is in front of the cathedral of Milan, the site of Augustine's baptism. We visited the excavation of the site of his baptism under the cathedral, where we renewed the promises of our own baptisms.We spent our second day exploring the city of Milan, where St. Augustine lived from 383 to 386 as the orator of the Roman Imperial Court. It was here that he finally surrendered himself in trust and love to God. He was influenced by the preaching of St. Ambrose, whose Basilica and bones we visited this morning. It was in Milan that Augustine experienced his famous Tolle Lege moment. This photo is in front of the cathedral of Milan, the site of Augustine's baptism. We visited the excavation of the site of his baptism under the cathedral, where we renewed the promises of our own baptisms.

  • Day 3: Pavia


    En route from Cassago Brianza to San Gimignano, in Tuscany, we stopped this morning in the city of Pavia to visit the St. Peter in the Golden Sky basilica. There, in the arca pictured above, are the interred remains of St. Augustine, who died in 430 in his home diocese in Hippo Reguis. Two of the student pilgrims, Nina and Becca, are explaining to our group how Augustine's remains were ransomed by the king of Lombardy in the ninth century from the island of Sardinia. Surrounding the arca are oil vigil lamps from all parts of the Order of St. Augustine, in veneration of the Holy Father.En route from Cassago Brianza to San Gimignano, in Tuscany, we stopped this morning in the city of Pavia to visit the St. Peter in the Golden Sky basilica. There, in the arca pictured above, are the interred remains of St. Augustine, who died in 430 in his home diocese in Hippo Reguis. Two of the student pilgrims, Nina and Becca, are explaining to our group how Augustine's remains were ransomed by the king of Lombardy in the ninth century from the island of Sardinia. Surrounding the arca are oil vigil lamps from all parts of the Order of St. Augustine, in veneration of the Holy Father.

  • Day 4: San Gimignano


    This morning, we were awash in the spiritual richness and energy of the Convento of St. Augustine in San Gimignano, a few hours' drive from Siena and Florence, in Tuscany. The ancient monastery is renowned for its fresco series on the life of St. Augustine, painted in the years 1464-1465 by the Renaissance master Benozzo Gozzoli. Examining Augustine's life through these depictions inspired us to share our own personal experiences with each other.This morning, we were awash in the spiritual richness and energy of the Convento of St. Augustine in San Gimignano, a few hours' drive from Siena and Florence, in Tuscany. The ancient monastery is renowned for its fresco series on the life of St. Augustine, painted in the years 1464-1465 by the Renaissance master Benozzo Gozzoli. Examining Augustine's life through these depictions inspired us to share our own personal experiences with each other.

  • Day 5: Lecceto


    Today was devoted to exploring the origins and history of the Augustinian order. This included a visit to the Augustinian Contemplative Sisters, in Lecceto. The monastery, which dates to the 12th century, is one of the earliest communities that formed the order, in 1244. We joined the sisters for midday prayer and experienced the beauty of their chanting of the Psalms. We also learned about their lives of prayer and contemplation while living in the cloister. Today was devoted to exploring the origins and history of the Augustinian order. This included a visit to the Augustinian Contemplative Sisters, in Lecceto. The monastery, which dates to the 12th century, is one of the earliest communities that formed the order, in 1244. We joined the sisters for midday prayer and experienced the beauty of their chanting of the Psalms. We also learned about their lives of prayer and contemplation while living in the cloister.

  • Day 6: Rome


    Arriving in Rome this afternoon, we visited the international headquarters of the Order of St. Augustine, located adjacent to St. Peter's Square. This photograph is from the roof of St. Monica's College, the International House of Studies of the Augustinians. While on the roof, we took time to reflect and share with each other the highlights of our journey so far.Arriving in Rome this afternoon, we visited the international headquarters of the Order of St. Augustine, located adjacent to St. Peter's Square. This photograph is from the roof of St. Monica's College, the International House of Studies of the Augustinians. While on the roof, we took time to reflect and share with each other the highlights of our journey so far.

  • Day 7: Rome


    We began our day with the celebration of Mass at the altar of the tomb of Pope Saint John Paul II, inside Saint Peter's Basilica. This celebration, at this place, helped us to appreciate not only our communion with each other, but also our affinity with all members of the Body of Christ throughout the world.We began our day with the celebration of Mass at the altar of the tomb of Pope Saint John Paul II, inside Saint Peter's Basilica. This celebration, at this place, helped us to appreciate not only our communion with each other, but also our affinity with all members of the Body of Christ throughout the world.

  • Day 8: Ostia Antica


    This morning we explored the ruins of Ostia Antica by the Sea, the ancient port of Rome. Augustine spent nearly a year here, returning to North Africa after his baptism. It was in Ostia that his mother, Monica, died and was burried, in November 387 C.E. Returning to Rome, our group disembarked the bus at the Colloseum. We walked through the Roman Forum, passing Trevi Fountain, and returned to St. Peter's for a final dinner together before our journey home. Arrivderchi, Roma!This morning we explored the ruins of Ostia Antica by the Sea, the ancient port of Rome. Augustine spent nearly a year here, returning to North Africa after his baptism. It was in Ostia that his mother, Monica, died and was burried, in November 387 C.E. Returning to Rome, our group disembarked the bus at the Colloseum. We walked through the Roman Forum, passing Trevi Fountain, and returned to St. Peter's for a final dinner together before our journey home. Arrivderchi, Roma!