Senior Arts Administration major Maria Fuller was one of nearly 200 people who gathered under a tent in Viterbo University’s Assisi Courtyard on Oct. 3 to enjoy some soup and hear stories from campus community members who had traveled to Assisi, Italy, as part of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration’s (FSPA) Assisi Pilgrimage program. The event was one of many held as part of a weeklong celebration of St. Francis Week at Viterbo.
“St. Francis Week activities are always a good way to bring our community together to celebrate and learn more about Viterbo’s Catholic and Franciscan traditions,” Fuller said. “The week is also a reminder of the many ways in which we can integrate these Franciscan values into our own lives. And for me, I always love seeing the members of the FSPA around campus and gathering with them to honor their critical role in Viterbo’s past and present.”
Viterbo was founded in 1890 by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare Assisi are the founding saints of the Franciscan Order. The Franciscan values adopted by Viterbo include hospitality, service, contemplation, integrity and stewardship.
Another popular activity during the week was the evening neighborhood bread distribution, during which students went into the neighborhood around campus, knocked on doors, and handed out loaves of bread to residents as a symbol of Franciscan hospitality.
Emilio Alvarez, director of campus ministry, was part of a committee who planned the week.
“We wanted to give students a glimpse of who St. Francis and St. Clare were, and an understanding of the community they were trying to achieve,” Alvarez said. “It’s a reminder of who we are. It’s a good message for all students — St. Francis and St. Clare saw everyone as a brother and sister who were created in the image of God. We all need to care for each other treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
The celebration culminated on Thursday with the St. Francis Day Liturgy in Viterbo’s San Damiano Chapel, Franny Fest in Assisi Courtyard, and the always-popular Pet Blessing that evening. Franny Fest featured food, music, games, activities, and, of course, fun.
“Joy in life through things like food, entertainment and community are also very important,” Alvarez said.
Mass on St. Francis Day is the highlight of the week for nursing major Katherine Ross.
“I love that it brings our community together to celebrate the Eucharist,” Ross said. “God told St. Francis to rebuild his church, and as we continue to follow St. Francis’ love for creation, we are doing that. I think the entire week gives students the opportunity to explore our Franciscan roots and learn more about our values on campus.”