From my last day in Rome, my days were calculated, but for all that there were left still two important pilgrimages to visit.
First that of Assisi, whereupon St. Francis has weighted his stamp so much that this little city has remained irradiated with his holiness, as importance, which is so great that is van be considered as a second Holy Land. I came here first after having left Rome and was received by the Franciscan Fathers with much cordiality.
Assisi is situated on a low height from where the sight goes over a wide landscape. All seem to be thinking of the great saint St. Francis. Many Germans come here on bicycle, who must be mostly catholic. I heard here about a lady, who had a free room in her house reserved for them. But once a couple of them had come there and had left the house early and secretly. Taking along the blankets off the beds that had been there. Since that day the lady refused to receive other pilgrims.
But since Pope John Paul II had chosen Assisi as a place for a meeting with the chiefs of all false religions in 1986, it cannot linger attract me to come there again. This scandal has taken away something of its holiness that had remained there as long as it had been treated with the respect due to every Catholic Pilgrimage.
From here I would go to the house of Nazareth, not far from Assisi on the east coast of Italy. How could this house have come there from so far away as the Holy Land? When in the 8th century the Moslems attacked the Holy Land, Angels took the house of the Holy Family away to prevent its profanation and transported it to the coast of Dalmatia in Yugoslavia. But when the Turks –other Moslems- attacked many centuries later East Europe and had arrived there. It was taken away again by Angels and transported to the opposed coast of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
I don’t remember whether there was a church built over the House, but in this House is a little chapel with an altar, that each time there is a Mass, Is filled with faithful so that it is difficult to receive Holy Communion. What a grace it was for me to may receive here Holy Communion and also what an honor.
From this blessed spot I went straight-on to the north. One evening my way went through the mountains and climbing over the road a thunderstorm surprised me. Where to go? Happily I came to a farm, knocked on the door and was friendlily received. They gave me a meal and after having taken it I received a night lodging in the barn wherein a donkey was freely roaming. I arranged me a sleeping place in the hay but was hold awake longtime by the thundering. Sometimes the donkey sprung up terrified, but this did not hinder me. Finally I slept and awakened in the morning. I left my friendly hosts without taking a breakfast which wondered them but I would first receive Holy Communion in one of the first towns that I would meet of my trip. On my way to the north, I passed Milan where I saw its famous cathedral with its many statues.
Then I was no more far from Switzerland, where had first to pass over the Alps, which was a hard enterprise but once I had passed its top, it became an easy descent. I had only to take much care with cars that came from the opposed side because the roads were narrow and with many curbs.
In more or less one day, I reached the border of Germany, of which the frontier guards were according to the Nazi regime that dominated I this country. But they let me pass the border and now I was in Germany. The weather there was not like in the southern countries; it was cold and rainy. I had soon become wet and I saw no other means than to seek some room in a hotel. But I had only some little money and this had been changed in Switzerland in Swiss Franks that was at the time the most reliable money in Europe. I did not know that this could be an inconvenience in Germany, to pay a room. But I was then in Nazi-Germany with its Nazi-laws that made life there more complicated. They would not pay themselves with strange money. Impossible to have a room and so I continued to stay on the road. It was only a soft rain, but I became always more wet. The night had come and a policeman stopped me underway. I told him my mischief. He was a friendly man but he could not help me and let me go.
Finally I decided to lay me down under a tree, where I continued to became always mire wet until the rain stopped and I slept a little. When I awakened in the morning I felt in my left shoulder a pain as from rheumatism. After some weeks this pain would disappear, but later it came back and would last until now. My whole life in spite of all the remedies I tried, but it was never grave.
Holland was not far away and soon its border was reached. This would become my last day before being home again. When a horse running before a car smells the proximity of its stable it begins to run quicker. The last night was beginning and I had the same feelings. This became the longest day of my trip. It should have been a trip of about 220 kilometers. When midnight came, Amsterdam lay behind me. From here almost all the roads are situated between two canals or two ditches which claims not to be sleepy while passing on bicycle. And this it was that I had become, so that I pedaled on the road from one side to the other. It was good that I met nobody coming from the opposed side. But it happened that a motorbicycle came from behind me and passing me its rider cried to me: “Are you sleeping?” This wakened me totally up and the more I came near to Hoorn, the more I held myself awake.
Early in the morning I arrived at home. I don’t remember how I entered into our house… Probably my father had heard me and let me come in. As soon as possible I threw myself on my bed and soon I fell asleep. Late in the morning I awakened; it came from some noise I had heard. When I opened my eyes, I saw my youngest sister looking and smiling at me. We had always had a great love for each other.
I was happy and healthy. I had still two weeks to prepare my trip to the seminary of Arras where I was waited for.