It is in the midst of simplicity that the pilgrim finds joy and peace. Just a few steps from our residence, I found the water fountain that would refill my bottle each day. The water was good and welcome in the high heat.
Just on the other side of the fountain was the narrow walkway that connected Via San Paulo to Via San Francisco and halfway down the walkway stood a simple stone church with a small bell tower that has graced this spot for over a thousand years. In the photo, below, you see the point where the walkway seems to end and there you see a small section of roof peaking out from behind a tall tree. That is the Church of St Stephen.
I rested in the little chapel on the several occasions when I had to climb this hill in the hot sun and I wondered how many pilgrims came before me and marveled at the raw rock walls and tiny Romanesque windows. I imagined how many others stopped to rest at this halfway point over the past millennium. This was clearly the oldest church in Assisi and certainly the most humble. St Francis would have liked it and probably there visited many times.
I was blessed to attend Mass there and visit several times, but the time I remember the most was when I came in to rest and sat alone in the chapel as visitors passed by the doors in search of more famous places. For a thousand years this wonderful church shared it’s space with countless tired pilgrims, but for a few special minutes, it shared it’s space with me.