Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 15 Rosetto….our day off!

Buena Sera!

I figured I would send this since Sue is still repacking and it won’t be long. We have a marvelous hotel and the views are wonderful. Yesterday was the first day we had any rain and this morning we woke up to a nasty rain storm. Who cared? We slept 12 hours and by the time we had breakfast and got ready to leave the sun was shinning and we couldn’t wait to get back for a nap on the beach. It was laundry day and time to reorganize our luggage so we set out to find the Lavendiere. After a couple of stops for directions we made it. It wasn’t easy trying to figure out how to work the machines but after due diligence we got them going, then we found the English instructions on a pad…duh!

Having time we went for a cappuccino and went back to check on our clothes, when a younger Italian fellow came in with a large bag. I could see he didn’t have a clue so I showed him how to use the machines. The blind leading the blind! I explained to him in sign language that he had 45 minutes and he said motioned and said he was going to his casa, for his boys, he said his name was Victor and we introduced ourselves. It was now apparent he was divorced. He struggled to communicate and we managed. He had brought a huge comforter to wash and as we watched the machine after it filled with water it wouldn’t move. It had to be the weight, so we kept pressing the buttons and after several attempts of small turns and shutting off it started. We were finishing up when Victor’s comforter was done so I put it in the dryer for him and paid for the first 7 minute segment.(last of the big spenders, 1 euro) he arrived when we were leaving and was so happy to see his laundry in the dryer. He tried to pay me and I said no but he insisted so I told him 10 euro(only kidding) He gave me a euro and I showed him how much the dryer cost and what to do. We bid farwell feeling good that we had helped some one. Before we left I took the full bottle of detergent that we didn’t need and gave it to Victor, he was touched and excited and said thank you and then I love you, I think, and I ran to the car. LOL

We dropped everything off at the hotel and Sue organized as I checked both of our e-mail. Sue freaked out when I got her down to 0, yes 0, e-mails in her inbox. Her norm is never below 80. I hope she sleeps tonight. It had starting raining again so the beach was out but we were hungry and went to search out anyplace that was open.

We found a joint on the main drag and went in. It was pizzas, calzones and a few home cooked dishes so we ordered 3 different pizza slices, a calzone and a sausage, egg and zucchini dish. Mama the owner was there and spoke some English and her daughter waited on us. The food was great and we had a 1/2 carafe house wine that was superb. Mama was getting ready to leave so I got the bill, was it expensive, 13 euro, how stupid for great food.  If prices were this good back home we could eat out every night! We talked for a few minutes and as we departed into the rain we heard mama go “singing in the rain”, she had a pretty good voice.

That’s about it. We did manage to relax and I expect another 12 hour sleep is in the cards. Good Night and God Bless Susan & Tom

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 14 Cupertino & Loretto

Buena Sera:

We were up at seven after a great night of sleep, I think we could have stayed in bed longer but today we had a tight time frame. Our first stop after the morning ritual was St. Joseph of Cupertino, the flying Saint, and patron of students, test takers, the mentally challenged and aviators. His story is long but a great read and I may send it in a separate e-mail. Susan was crying the whole time she read it.

I have had a few people ask about the car we have since I have not commented about it as I did about the car we had last year, did I tell you I loved that car? This car, even though it does everything for you including massaging my back when driving, is a far cry from the Mercedes. I booked this car because it was supposed to hold 5 people and 4 bags in the boot……yeah, right; you have seen the pictures with the 2 pieces of luggage on the back seat, plus a multitude of other things.

Last year everything fit in the trunk, so this year at every stop we have to worry that someone will break in and steal the luggage. This fear was instilled at the rental counter when our agent said the theft of luggage in cars in Italy is bad and widespread. After almost 2 weeks of taking our luggage to our room and putting the other in the trunk we gave up and decided that they could have it. Now we don’t worry about the back seat luggage, especially since most of it is dirty laundry.

We had the opportunity of Mass at the shrine of St. Joseph of Cupertino.  Just in case you are afraid to fly....he is the patron saint of air travelers!
We had the opportunity of Mass at the shrine of St. Joseph of Cupertino. Just in case you are afraid to fly….he is the patron saint of air travelers! You can see an image of him levitation painted on the wall of the church behind the altar.

The town of Osimo where the Basilica of the Saint stands is a small windy and very narrow maze of streets. Parking was a nightmare and after 2 go arounds I parked in a handicap spot. Knowing the routine I get out of the car very slowly hanging on to the car and got my cane out of the back. As we walked to the Basilica I looked like a total invalid until we got past the camera’s that monitor the parking. I know, after yesterday you ask how could you do that, and I say we didn’t want to miss Mass. I prayed for forgiveness and we enjoyed the Mass with a full congregation.

After we toured the shrine of the Saint and made our way to the car for our next destination, the Holy House of Loretto, the house of Mary from Nazareth, where the Holy Family lived. We had been here before but felt compelled to come back. This shrine has been visited by more than 200 Saints and Popes. We like to touch the walls in the house knowing that Jesus, Mary and Joseph must have touched them as well as so many other holy people, hoping that it might rub off. It is Sunday so it was crowded and we squeezed our way into a corner so we could pray and contemplate where we were. It was getting close to closing, for lunch again, so I snapped a few pictures for you even though the last time we were here I got a ton. Today I only got yelled at 3 times. Knowing we would be thrown out we chose to leave on our own in total dignity, LOL, and made our way back to the car.

r first stop after the morning ritual was St. Joseph of Cupertino, the flying Saint, and patron of students, test takers, the mentally challenged and aviators. His story is long but a great read and I may send it in a separate e-mail. Susan was crying the whole time she read it.  I have had a few people ask about the car we have since I have not commented about it as I did about the car we had last year, did I tell you I loved that car? This car, even though it does everything for you including massaging my back when driving is a far cry from the Mercedes. I booked this car because it was supposed to hold 5 people and 4 bags in the boot, yeah right; you have seen the pictures with the 2 pieces of luggage on the back seat, plus a multitude of other things. Last year everything fit in the trunk, so this year at every stop we have to worry that someone will break in and steal the luggage. This fear was instilled at the rental counter when our agent said the theft of luggage in cars in Italy is bad and widespread. After almost 2 weeks of taking our luggage to our room and putting the other in the trunk we gave up and decided that they could have it. Now we don’t worry about the back seat luggage, especially since most of it is dirty laundry.  The town of Osimo where the Basilica of the Saint stands is a small windy and very narrow maze of streets. Parking was a nightmare and after 2 go arounds I parked in a handicap spot. Knowing the routine I get out of the car very slowly hanging on to the car and got my cane out of the back. As we walked to the Basilica I looked like a total invalid until we got past the camera’s that monitor the parking. I know, after yesterday you ask how could you do that, and I say we didn’t want to miss mass.  I prayed for forgiveness and we enjoyed the mass with a full congregation. After we toured the shrine of the Saint and made our way to the car for our next destination, the Holy House of Loretto, the house of Mary from Nazareth, where the Holy Family lived. We had been here before but felt compelled to come back. This shrine has been visited by more than 200 Saints and Popes. We like to touch the walls in the house knowing that Jesus, Mary and Joseph must have touched them as well as so many other holy people, hoping that it might rub off.  It is Sunday so it was crowded and we squeezed our way into a corner so we could pray and contemplate where we were. It was getting close to closing, for lunch again, so I snapped a few pictures for you even though the last time we were here I got a ton. Today I only got yelled at 3 times. Knowing we would be thrown out we chose to leave on our own in total dignity,LOL, and made our way back to the car. We took time to have a light lunch of the gigantic sandwich I made last night and headed for our next hotel where we will spend 2 glorious days doing nothing, unless we choose to.  We arrived around 2 and this is a 4 star property which has only been opened a short time. I checked in and got the bellman’s cart and we unloaded the car( except for one suitcase we left on the back seat filled with dirty laundry, hoping it would be stolen) We were laughing so hard at the mess we had and how full the cart was with bags of everything. I left Sue to park the car and the manager came out and took the cart to bring it in and he was grunting trying to get it up the ramp. Our room is large and the view is just outstanding with the mountains we came through to get here behind us and the Aegean Sea in front of us. This is a well needed respite after 2 weeks of many shrines and hotels. So don’t expect much tomorrow just as we don’t expect to do much. ( the beach looks good) We will send photos because a picture is worth a 1000 words.  Good night and God Bless.  Susan and Tom
Time for our own special sandwiches hand-made by Tom.

We took time to have a light lunch of the gigantic sandwich I made last night (beginning to get pretty good at this, in my humble opinion) and headed for our next hotel where we will spend 2 glorious days doing nothing, unless we choose to.

We arrived around 2 and this is a 4 star property which has only been opened a short time. I checked in and got the bellman’s cart and we unloaded the car( except for one suitcase we left on the back seat filled with dirty laundry, hoping it would be stolen). We were laughing so hard at the mess we had and how full the cart was with bags of everything. I left Sue to park the car and the manager came out and took the cart to bring it in and he was grunting trying to get it up the ramp. Our room is large and the view is just outstanding with the mountains we came through to get here behind us and the Aegean Sea in front of us. This is a well needed respite after 2 weeks of many shrines and hotels.

So don’t expect much tomorrow just as we don’t expect to do much. ( the beach looks good) We will send photos because a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Good night and God Bless. Susan and Tom

For more information about Osimo and Saint Joseph of Cupertino click here

For more information about Loretto click here

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 13 Reggio Emilia

Buena Sera:

We just finished dinner in the room and figured we would keep going and try to get this report done. Today started out just like normal, we got up early, had breakfast and left. The only difference was that our next stop was only 2 miles into the town of Reggio Emilia to visit the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Ghiara. This shrine we had never heard of (as most of the townspeople). GB2 told us about it and we were excited to go after doing our research.

What we found and experienced was nothing we had expected. In the center of town we parked right at the front of the Basilica and went in. The mass was in progress and we were disappointed since the only mass on Saturdays was supposed to be at 7 am, it was 9, we could have made it if we knew. We knelt in time for the Our Father and happily gave the sign of peace to those around. Being so late we were not going to go to communion but a feeling came over both of us that we should so we did and we were grateful and at peace. After mass the old priest who was very hunched backed, so much so he couldn’t give out communion, walked by us and I touched his arm and said God Bless Father. He stopped and looked up at the two of us and smiled and gave us his blessing. It was a beautiful moment and the rest of the morning just got better.

We finally looked around and saw the stunning beauty of this Shrine to Our Lady.  I can only describe the feeling I was having as that we were in a very special place. We explored every inch and try to absorb the beauty of all the frescoes and paintings in the apse.

Fresco of Our Lady of Ghiara.  To be here and see this miraculous fresco is beyond description
Fresco of Our Lady of Ghiara. To be here and see this miraculous fresco is beyond description.

The icon was stunning and mesmerizing of Her and Her Infant Son.  It was here, in 1596,  that a young orphan, who was born without a tongue and was deaf as well, was praying before the fresco of the Madonna and child and was suddenly able to hear and grew a tongue. The miracle was approved by Pope Clement VIII shortly thereafter and many more cures were reported over the years.

We couldn’t leave without saying our prayers for an indulgence and we sat before the Madonna and Son and very intently said our rosary for all of you. We were both filled with the spirit of Jesus when we left and on our way to our next stop we spent the whole time reading aloud all the intentions we had brought and have received each day. Some we were able to take off the list but the list keeps growing as we added the new ones we have received. The emotions flowed as we realized how so many people we know are suffering, yet a great peace came over me as I felt that ours prayers were being heard. Convinced I told Susan how I felt and she said there were too many prayers for Our lady to handle in one day, I said no, She loves all of us, she can do it and then we both laughed for nothing is impossible for God.

The 70 minute drive was over as we put the intentions away and we entered the parking lot of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Piratello another 600-700 year old structure. We arrived at 11:30 knowing we would not get mass and thankful for this mornings communion. Totally at peace we went and bought a rose for Our Lady to thank her for this day and the graces we had received for all of you. There were 4 large stands with flowers there and I wondered how many people come here to visit Our Lady. (Duh, it’s right next to the cemetery which are part of the grounds, and I only figured that out later when in the Sanctuary there were only two small vases near the altar and no place to put your flowers).

Day 13 Image of Our Lady of PiratelloThis was a very small and old church and but the feeling that we had this morning hadn’t changed. The icon was stunning and the fresco brilliant even though it was dark and hard to see and there is an incorrupt body of a Saint that we have to research.

Sue placing the flowers on the statue
Sue placing the flowers on the statue in the shrine

Still holding onto our rose we looked for a place to leave it when Sue reached up and placed it in the hand of the statue of Jesus. How fitting, I think Our Mother wanted that. We offered up our prayers and lit another candle for all of you and left, just as they were closing for lunch.

Here is my nightly ritual of sandwich-making.
Here is my nightly ritual of sandwich-making.

We stopped for supplies and headed for the Agean and our hotel. The room is beach town type and comfortable and we can even see the sea and feel the wonderful balmy breezes. We typed yesterdays report and I then made this huge sandwich for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch.

I needed to write this report so I could relive the wonderful day we had had and just as I finished this I broke down in tears as I remembered the feelings of today and the love and peace we felt with Mother and Son. It doesn’t happen often but we have felt this before and continue to try and live a good life and pray so as to feel it again. I hope you have all experienced this and if not don’t lose hope, it is beyond words yet attainable for all, just pray and pray, for this life without God is meaningless.

Good night and God Bless Susan and Tom

For more about the Shrine of Our Lady of Ghiara in Reggio Emilia click here

For more about the shrine of Our Lady of Piratello in Imelia click here

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Italy Day 12

Buona Sera:

Before I start today’s adventure, we want to thank all of you for your concern about our colds. We felt a little better today and stopped at another Pharmacy and the pills the doc gave us seem to be helping even more. We decided last night to take a break and rearranged our schedule so we have an extra night in a great hotel on the Aegean Sea on Sunday. A day of rest and probably some laundry should do us good. We were up at 5:30 am, not because we couldn’t sleep, there was a baby in the room next to us and did it have a set of lungs. If the mother didn’t feed it soon I was going to go over and do it, finally the crying subsided and the alarm went off 15 minutes later, oh well.

Getting ready to head out for what will be a very special day for us.  Not only St. Anthony but dinner with a special family.
Getting ready to head out for what will be a very special day for us. Not only St. Anthony but dinner with a special family.

We had breakfast in our room and, while discussing our day, we realized that we would probably not get this report out today since we were having dinner at a friend’s home that we had not seen in 20 years (almost to the date, as she told us). So you will probably see this Trip Report some time tomorrow (which would then be Saturday).  We are packing the car and ready to head out on today’s great adventure.

So on to today, the 12th day of our “personal pilgrimage” … Friday, September 27th (just to keep you up to the date). Our focus today was on St. Anthony of Padua … a favorite of Susan’s since childhood and she couldn’t wait for this part of our trip.

Arrival at Camposampiero...an important stop in our pilgrimage
Arrival at Camposampiero…an important stop in our pilgrimage. It gives great insight into the life of this saint.

The first stop we made was in Camposampiero … about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Padua to the north. Our plan was to make Morning Mass and it worked … we arrived early, in fact. In this place St. Anthony had wished to have a place of peace, quiet and solitude where he could Pray, contemplate, study and do his writings. At his request, a small cell was built for St. Anthony in a Walnut Tree. This is where he spent his time knowing death was near.

Praying at the "Cell of the Vision" was a powerful experience.
Praying at the “Cell of the Vision” was a powerful experience.

Also at this Shrine is what is called “The Cell of the Vision” where Jesus Christ, as an Infant, visited St. Anthony and he held Jesus in his arms. It is quite an experience to kneel in front of the Cell. We had enough time before Mass so Susan could write our Special Intentions for the day and to explore part of the Shrine.

After Mass, we walked the stairs to the Cell of the Vision and explored the rest of the Shrine and the grounds. We both realized how very little we really knew about Saint Anthony’s short life, but we read stories before and during our pilgrimage and we feel Blessed that we were able to walk/drive in his footsteps. (Please see the wonderful stories below). It amazed both of us that in the very short time St. Anthony was a Priest, he influenced so many people … both of his time and as he continued and continues to influence people throughout the world. He died at age 36 and was canonized within a very short period of time after his death. He is considered a “Doctor of the Church” and his corrupt tongue, larnyx and jaw survived the total decay of his body after death. During the visit to the Major Shrine in Padua to St. Anthony, we were hopeful that we would be able to view his Relics.

We then traveled on the Arcella, the second Shrine on the Pilgrimage. Once again, we were able to park in front. We paid homage to him … for this was the place where St. Anthony died on his way back to Padua at his request. From there, we made our way to the Basilica in Padua. Not knowing what to expect, we parked in a large parking garage. It was very crowded with people as we entered Padua so we thought that would be our safest bet. We left the parking garage and we walked … and we walked … and we walked. Along the way, however, we were able to stop in a couple of wonderful Churches that we had not known about.

The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua here in Padua is both immense and inspiring.
The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua here in Padua is both immense and inspiring.

We finally arrived at the Basilica of St. Anthony and we were utterly amazed. If you’ve ever been there, you will understand. If not, we hope that you will be able to visit Padua some day in the future. We walked around the Basilica with our mouths open … in complete awe. The Basilica is currently under re-construction for the 750th Anniversary of the death of St. Anthony and the celebrations being planned.

We were still able to see the most things in the Shrine. Most importantly, we got to walk before the Tomb of St. Anthony and then walked behind it to Pray and venerate the back of his tomb. We entered the chapel of the Relics and saw the tongue, larynax and jaw of the Saint as well as relic’s from other Saint’s. (Photos) Even though photos were not allowed I manage to snap a few, only getting scolded twice. On our way through, near the exit, a priest just seemed to appear as we marveled at the depiction of Christ in one of the side chapels. He had us come in and gave us a blessing and sprinkled us with holy water (I assume this is for all pilgrims).

The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua here in Padua is both immense and inspiring.
It was great to see the wonderful woman who was once a foreign exchange student at our home in the U.S.

Finished we walked and walked back to our car and headed for Reggio Emilia to our friend’s home and a night of joy, laughter and good Italian food, and we were not disappointed. Graziana Bertignon (another GB, we’ll call her GB2) stayed with us in Pompano as an exchange student 20 years ago and she hadn’t changed a bit. Still sweet and vibrant and always laughing and smiling and her husband Mario was the same. (The perfect couple).

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure in Italy Day 11 Rosa Mystica & Monte Berico

We slept until 7:00 A.M. this morning and it wasn’t easy getting up. We both could have slept the whole day with the way we have been feeling. But trooper pilgrims that we are, we got up, had breakfast (3 Cappuccinos each) and headed to our next destination after saying “ciao” to the lovely couple who owned the hotel. They didn’t speak a word of English, but I could understand a lot of what they were trying to communicate to me (not Susan, though). And as we departed, they presented us with a nice bottle of wine. Maybe we should have it now? It was early, so we decided to fit in Rosa Mystica – Fontanelle, even though we had been there before in 2010.

Rosa Mystica – Fontanelle is a very special place, located out in the middle of a wheat field. It is very peaceful and serene and allows your spirituality and love of Jesus and Our Blessed Mother to run rampant. We took the long way, of course, even though it is not in the mountains, it is still hard to find as most of Our Blessed Mother Shrines are (she has a great sense of humor to challenge us to find her Shrines). What should have been a 20 minute drive took a little over an hour. When we got there, we got a parking place in the exact same spot as the last time we were at Rosa Mystica in 2010. The only difference was that on our last visit, it was storming with severe lightning but we persisted then and we persisted today.

The Cross of Jesus on the way to the Shrine of Rosa Mystica
We stopped at the Cross of Jesus on the way to the Shrine of Rosa Mystica

We first passed the Cross of Jesus and we stood to Pray for a short while. We then made our way into the Shrine of the First Apparition of Our Lady at Fontanelle (after her appearances in Montichiari). After we greeted Our Lady and quietly prayed to her, Susan wrote today’s Special Intentions in their Intention Register and I lit a candle to accompany those Intentions to Our Lady. Today, we had a couple of very special requests for Special Intentions at Rosa Mystica and we were more than happy to come there to present those Intentions, hoping that the requests and Prayers will be answered.

Climbing the stairs at the Shrine of Our Lady of Rosa Mystica
Climbing the stairs according the tradition here….not easy when we are already sick! But we are pilgrims, so we carry on.

We then made our way to the main Shrine of Our Lady of Rosa Mystica which is covered with a tent-like structure and contained another Apparition Site as well as the Holy Fountain of Miracles and the Miraculous Pool. Here, after entering, we knew to follow the “procedures” that Our Lady of Rosa Mystica had requested … first visit the stairs of the Shrine. Walk to the top of the stairs (about 10 of them) … kneel and kiss the first step where Our Lady stood during the Apparition … Pray to Our Lady. Going down the steps on your knees, go to the second step where Our Lady Stood (mid-way down the steps) … kiss the step (marked in red) … Pray to Our Lady. Continue on your knees back down to the first step which is the third step Our Lady Stood (marked in red) … kiss the step … Pray to Our Lady.

At the bottom of the steps and just to the right, there is a Crucifix with a Kneeler. Procedure is that one will kneel, Venerate the Cross and Pray for Forgiveness of our sins. Then (and only then), according to the Requests of Our Lady during the Apparitions, you then proceed to the left of the steps and to the Chapel of Our Lady of Rosa Mystica’s Fountain where you can obtain the Miraculous Water.

Then, you can (and we did, once again, … are we crazy? WE’RE SICK!), walk through the Healing Bath Waters of Our Lady of Rosa Mystica.

It is quite an awesome experience. Today was no different and we stripped off our sneaks and socks and waded in the ice cold waters of the healing pool. (the last time we were here Sue had Panty hose on and we had to rip them off at the knees, that was a sight to behold LOL).

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure in Italy Day 10

Buona Serra:  We set the alarm this morning for 6 AM so we could go with Fr. GB to a local convent where he was going to say mass at 7. It wasn’t easy getting out of bed and even though we both told each other we were OK. I knew we were in the grips of a bad cold. I didn’t sleep too well because I had nightmares that when we get home Fr.Tom would have a bed for us in the hall at the Cathedral.

GB was right on time and off we went to this convent close by. The chapel and church are quaint and lovely and GB and I were the only men. The sisters were surprised to see us but were so gracious making sure we were OK. GB say’s a good mass, I especially love his homily, he doesn’t say one during the week and on Sunday’s it’s 5 minutes max. His feeling is that the mass is more important than the priest and he is very spiritual and his love for God exudes from all he does especially when he celebrates the Eucharist. At the sign of peace many of the sisters came over to offer the sign of the peace of Christ and they didn’t care if we were homeless or the Queen and King of England.

So amazing to find this 1,000 year-old Church here. Thanks, Fr. BG
So amazing to find this 1,000 year-old Church here. Thanks, Fr. BG

We headed for a coffee shop after to fuel up before leaving. FR BG then took us to to the 1000 year old church on the hill. As we entered the church we went directly to the tabernacle were he said let’s say a Hail Mary, it was beautiful since I know he reads our reports and wanted to share that with us. Padre GB then imparted a beautiful Blessed upon us. (Thank you for EVERYTHING “GB”)

Basilica of Our Lady of Grace in Brescia
Basilica of Our Lady of Grace in Brescia

After packing and saying our good byes(he will be a friend forever) we headed on our way for Brescia (GB was born there) and the Basilica of Our Lady of Grace. We drove past it 3 times because it is so nondescript and after searching hard for a place to park we finally set off on foot. Susan stopped twice to ask for directions and we were sent on different paths. After 3/4 of an hour walking we finally gave up and just before we got to our car we saw it on a corner street. We entered the Basilica anxious to see the Blessed Madonna Icon but couldn’t find it. A priest was in the church praying and told Sue that the Icon was moved. Disappointed we said our prayers and headed for Rosa Mystica, which is only 8 miles from our hotel.

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure in Italy Day 9

Buona Serra: Dinner last night was at 7:30 P.M. … we got downstairs at 7:35 and we were lucky to get a table at our Mountain Farm House B&B. We were so exhausted but we knew we had to eat something. We are now both sporting some heavy-duty colds and are quickly running out of our antibiotics. Susan ordered some homemade Lentil Soup for dinner and I selected a Pasta Dish with … I don’t know what it was! We shared a one main course (pork and polenta) and could hardly get through it. It’s not that the portions were big, it’s just that we were so tired and not feeling well at all. Plus, the Chef was trying to create “Nouvelle Cuisine” when she should have just stuck to maybe a “donkey stew” or the food of the region. We finished dinner and went up to our room, popped some NyQuil (the “just might need it” bag has really come into use this year.) It could be empty in a couple of days.

We know we have Vick’s VapoRub somewhere in our luggage … we just can’t find it for our tight chests. We put three heavy blankets on our bed, climbed in and neither of us remember anything after that until the alarm went off at 6:30 A.M. (I got up first, of course and did the usual packing and showering as I let my baby sleep a little longer.)

Breakfast at the B&B was very good. All “farm fresh”, frache, farm milk, fruit from their orchards, homemade cheese, tarts and lots of capuccino. Of course because we still didn’t feel good, we didn’t eat much. We changed our Itinerary again so that we could drive to meet Padre Gian Battista, PIME (I hope I spelled that correctly because we know he reads our Trip Reports every day and we are still with him. If I’m wrong, he can certainly yell at me tomorrow morning). From this point on, we will refer to Father as “GB” … as he is known here at Casa Natale di Papa Giovanni Pontifico Istituto Missioni Estere which the Padre PIME’s care for.

We met Father at the shrine, and from now on we will refer to him as GG
We met Father at the shrine, and from now on we will refer to him as GB since we cannot pronounce his name!

We met GB via email long before our arrival and have been communicating with him for some time now. He was looking forward to our arrival, we hope, as much as we were. We arrived a little later than anticipated, but when we pulled up to the gates, he was standing outside waiting for us. He had emailed a photo of himself the day before so that we would know what he looked like. It was like meeting up with an old friend after some time … instant bonded. He was so very gracious.

The small farmhouse that is the shrine of Pope John XXIII
The small farmhouse that is the shrine of Pope John XXIII

He brought us to our parking place on the Missionary grounds and he began an extensive tour of the Mission and where Blessed (soon to be Saint) Giovanni XXIII was born and raised (still open and preserved).

Artifacts from the life of Pope John Paul II
Artifacts from the life of Pope John Paul II
Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII

 

It was quite amazing to see the Pope’s entire life through photos, letters, memorabilia and personal items of Pope Giovanni XXIII. Among those items were photos and various personal items that he used during his Papacy.

Lunch is an amazing affair in Italy.  So much but of course we would not want to hurt our host's feelings!
Lunch is an amazing affair in Italy. So much but of course we would not want to hurt our host’s feelings!


After a while, Padre GB took us into a private room at the Mission for lunch. The chef then rolled in two full carts of food just for the three of us. We could have fed the 7:15 A.M. Mass at the Cathedral. The first course was served … small ravioli’s with a delicious tomato sauce, polenta with a melted garlic cheese sauce and the list goes on. Then the list goes on … there was fish (one was sardines stuffed with anchovies (they were great), another fish, salad, broccoli, cauliflower, fries, potatoes, salad, etc., etc., etc. We felt guilty not eating more as Padre GB kept asking if we would like another plateful. This was real food!

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure in Italy Day 8

Buona Serra!   What a day….from the corn fields to the clouds. We are so high up in the mountains now our ears popped, but I’m getting ahead of myself. We were in bed a 9 last night and slept for nine hours (Sue 10). We had breakfast and were off to Our Lady of the Cross in Crema, Italy, a 28 mile ride that took 1 1/2 hrs. Local traffic at rush hour is not pretty. Susan felt and sounded a lot better this morning and we were anxious to see this little known shrine. We found it in this small town amid the corn fields, an old Basilica which stood out majestically.

We entered and said our 3 Hail Marys, as we always do on these trips, for special intentions and proceeded to the icon of the Madonna and Son. We were alone for the most part, except for villagers who would stop and pray for a moment and proceed on. We knelt at the shrine and prayed for the plenary indulgences of the day. (I think I knelt exactly where Blessed John Paul did, albeit he had a kneeler and I was on the floor)

We didn’t stay too long since we were running behind, (Who planned this trip anyway?) and made our way to Caravaggio and the Virgin Mother of God. We had been here in 2010 and being only 12 miles away we decided to go back since we loved it so much. The last time we were here it was crowded with many afflicted people in wheel chairs and pilgrims, today it was empty. The last time we were here they had an 11 o’clock mass and they changed it to 10 so we were very late, we missed mass.

We were able to replenish our holy water here at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Cross in Crema
We were able to replenish our holy water here at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Cross in Crema

We went down to the grotto and replenished the miraculous water we are getting low on and went to the apparition site in the Basilica below the altar to pray. The last time we were here it was blocked off so you couldn’t get close and see the foot prints of Our Mother in the stone where she stood. We said our Rosary in front of the shrine, it was great and I think I was kneeling right where Blessed John Paul knelt, of course I was on the floor again. We did pray for your intentions and left them in the book at Crema and Caravaggio right before we got thrown out at noon. Don’t mess with an Italian’s lunch time!

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure: Day 7 Our Lady of the Guard and San Damiano, City of Roses

We dined at the hotel last night. They seemed to be the only game in town and they were very hospitable. The night’s menu went like this: the first course we had a homemade gnocchi in a creamy pesto and a spinach and goat cheese ravioli in a cream sauce. Sue ordered calamari and shrimp and I had the only other choices on the nightly menu, Donkey stew or Wild boar in brown tomato sauce. I couldn’t decide so I had a ½ portion of each. I could say something smart about the donkey but I won’t, they were both extremely good and I even got Sue to try them and she agreed. He gave us some homemade gelato for desert and it was loaded with bourbon and that was it, it was time for bed.

Inside the Basilica of Our Lady of Montallegro in Rapallo
Inside the Basilica of Our Lady of Montallegro in Rapallo

Sue caught a cold and I let her sleep in as I showered and packed and loaded the car. We had our morning cappuccinos and some light breakfast as we sent off the photos from the day before. We bid farewell and headed down the mountain for our next stop near Genoa which was very high atop another mountain. You could actually see it from down below perched on a cliff. I heard Sue groan and I knew she wasn’t looking forward to another day in the mountains. The ride was the same as yesterday’s, single lane roads and hairpin turns but we made it and again found parking on the side of the Basilica. Today we were 10 minutes early for mass at 10 and the church was almost full which was nice to see for a change. At communion it was a free for all as they came from all sides the back and front at the same time. Sue and I both wanted to get up and usher, since the ushers that did the collection were nowhere to be seen. Although we were up in front we were last to go.

Lighting Candles for all of your intentions at the Basilica of Our Lady of Montallegro
Lighting Candles for all of your intentions at the Basilica of Our Lady of Montallegro

After mass I manage to get a few photos of the Basilica which is quite beautiful and we lit a few candles and again were amazed at all the plaques, photos and hundreds of motorcycle helmets were given for intentions and miracles received. There wasn’t a book to write in so we left and made our way to the Chapel of the Apparitions which houses the original chapel built by(read the story below). In the chapel it was very peaceful and we managed to spend some quite time alone. On the way out there was an intention book and Sue wrote our intentions for the day and having fulfilled another plenary indulgence request we headed back down the mountain hoping we didn’t have to pass a tour bus, since there were several there.

Now I was facing a dilemma because my original plan was to go over the mountains to our next stop (San Damiano) but decided against it knowing that Sue felt bad and I didn’t know if I wanted another 3 hours of scary driving so I headed for the autostrada. About 3 hours later, only because they had closed down our exit and we had to maneuver our way through so many towns did we arrive in San Damiano, an hour late.

The town of San Damiano is small by any standards. Maybe 20 buildings and 6 of them are falling down but there are 2 nice looking hotels and some construction happening. There must have been 6 to 8 tour busses in the couple lots available. They had a prayer service in the church going on and at the garden of the apparitions there were people just sitting and praying. It was very peaceful. We had tried to find this shrine 3 years ago with no luck and now I know why. We filled up our Miraculous Holy Water from the well and departed.

Tired and hungry we made our way to our hotel all the time looking for a place to eat with no luck but after arriving the innkeeper told us where to go. We didn’t care what they had as long as it was food. The tavern we went to was crowded with college students and when trying to order we were told that the chef wouldn’t be back until 7. I told him I would be sleeping before he cooked his first order. We did manage to get a burger and hot sandwich. I think he felt sorry for us.

Sue is wrapping up the day sending out emails to everyone.
Sue is wrapping up the day sending out emails to everyone.

We ate and are back in our room finishing this report right after which it will be night, night.  Been an exciting day…I hope you enjoyed it as much as we have.

Summary:

According to tradition, on August 29, 1490 the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant called Benedetto Pareto and asked him to build a chapel on the mountain. Pareto was surprised and replied that he was only a poor man and would not be able to do that. But the Virgin Mary exhorted him by saying “Do not be afraid!” Nevertheless, Pareto went home and did not speak with anyone about the apparition. A few days later he felt from a tree and was seriously injured. The Virgin Mary appeared to him again and he was miraculously healed. The event convinced him to speak about the apparition and seek help to build the chapel. According to tradition the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant called Benedetto Pareto and asked him to build a chapel on the mountain. Pareto was surprised and replied that he was only a poor man and would not be able to do that. But the Virgin Mary exhorted him by saying “Do not be afraid!” Nevertheless, Pareto went home and did not speak with anyone about the apparition. A few days later he felt from a tree and was seriously injured. The Virgin Mary appeared to him again and he was miraculously healed. The event convinced him to speak about the apparition and seek help to build the chapel. According to tradition, the first chapel was built by Pareto himself in the same place of apparition. This is a small rectangular building with a wooden roof, now included inside a new chapel. Due to the increasing flow of pilgrims a shrine was built (on the top of the mountain), thanks to a donation of the noble family Ghersi. In the second half of 19th century a new shrine was built. Some troubles rose, both technical and financial, but at last the church was completed in 1889 and inaugurated on May 26 1890. In the following years the number of pilgrims continued to increase and the old church was demolished to make room for a new “hospice” for the pilgrims and guesthouse. The Genoese Pope Benedict XV assigned to the church the title of Basilica. Then, in 1917, the same pope built in the gardens of Vatican City a small temple, where a statue of N.S. della Guardia (given to the Pope by Genoese people) was arranged. A characteristic train (the “Autoguidovia”) was constructed, allowing pilgrims to reach the shrine from the bottom of the valley (this was then the only alternative was to go on foot). A new road for vehicles was constructed (provincial road No 52 from Bolzaneto, 11 km long), and the “Autoguidovia”, considered uneconomic, was closed in 1967. . The shrine was visited by Pope Benedict XVI. Sister Lucia dos Santos (One of the three shepherds of Fatima) recommended to her three cousins that they witness the phenomenon of the pear-tree blossom in San Damiano. Padre Pio was also a believer in these apparitions. Rose Quattrini was born January 26, 1909 in the village of Santimento Italy. Rosa had three sisters who all became nuns. She married Guiseppe Quattrini and they had three children, each born by cesarean section. Upon the birth of her last child complications resulted requiring surgery. During the next nine years Rosa was in and out of the hospital because her wounds would not heal. On September 24, 1961 Rosa was discharged from the hospital as incurable. They could nothing else to help her. At her home Rosa was cared for by Aunt Adele. On Spetember 29, 1961, five days after being discharged from the hospital, a beautiful young lady came to the door requesting alms for Padre Pio. Aunt Adele told the young lady that they had only 1000 lira in the home and needed it for Rosa because she was ill. At the lady’s insistence Adele led her to Rosa’ s bedside. The lady asked Rosa if she had faith in Padre Pio. When Rosa said “yes” the lady replied “If you have confidence in Padre Pio, he will cure you.” As the noon bells rang the lady recited the Angelus with Rosa and helped Rosa get up out of bed and stated that Rosa should visit Padre Pio. The lady then departed. Soon Rosa arose and went to the kitchen to do the dishes, suddenly she announced to Aunt Adele that she was cured. The following Spring of 1962 Rosa went on a pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo. Whilst reciting the rosary ub the church a lady called out “Rosa! Rosa!”It was the same beautiful lady who had cured Rosa. The lady identified herself as “I am the mother of Consolation and of the Afflicted. After Mass I will accompany you to Padre Pio and he will give you a mission” When Rosa met Padre Pio he told her she must care for the sick, both physical and spiritual care. Rosa did this for 2 years and finally went to her own home to care for Aunt Adele who was herself sick. The Apparitions began on October 16, 1964 while Rosa was inside her own home reciting the Angelus 1…The apparitions at San Damiano began with an impressive ”miracle.” According to well- documented reports, a pear-tree heavy with autumn fruit, suddenly flowered and remained in bloom for seventeen days 2…It is reported that Our Lady continued to appear to Rosa until Rosa’s death in 1981. However no messages are reported for this period. From the first apparition until September 2, 1968, Rosa would kneel at the pear tree and pray the rosary, then Our Lady would appear. As of September 2, 1968 the bishop ordered Rosa to cease kneeling before the pear tree. Rosa obeyed and thereafter the apparitions took place inside Rosa’s own home on each Friday and on some Feast days on each of the first Friday’s and First Saturdays and on all Marian Feast Days. Rosa received, recorded and distributed Our Lady’s messages until May 31, 1970 when the bishop forbade her to report or distribute messages. Again Rosa obeyed and thereafter privately recorded all further messages. Our Lady’s messages exhort us to prayer and penance, to pray the rosary, to embrace the cross and follow Jesus, to attend holy Mass and receive the Eucharist frequently, to pray for the Church and for the Pope, to increase devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Sorowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary and to pray for family unity and for young people. The messages warn of great purification and of chastisements, and of a great war to come if people do not listen to Our Lady’s messages. The chastisements are to come after a great epidemic. Other presences heard or seen or mentioned during the apparitions include: The Most Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, St. Michael the Archangel as well as other angels, St. Joseph, the Apostles, and Jacinta and Francisco of Fatima. Some reported predictions made by Rosa have come true. The knowledge obtained by Rosa came through visions and dreams. Many people have reported seeing visions while they were at San Damiano, some have seen the “Dance of the Sun”, others have smelled heavenly perfume and heard heavenly voices. Spiritual conversions and physical healings have been reported. Photographs depicting Our Lady and other images not explained through natural causes.

May God Bless all of you Susan and Tom Holy Virgin Mary, you are reigning in glory, with Jesus, your Son. Remember us in our sadness. Look kindly on all who are suffering or fighting against any difficulty. Have pity on those who are separated from someone they love. Have pity on the loneliness of our hearts. Have pity on the weakness of our faith and love. Have pity on those who are weeping, on those who are praying, on those who are fearful. Holy Mother, please obtain for all of us hope and peace with justice. Amen.

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 6

(Sept 21)  Buongiorno

What a day! I got up at 6 and made as much noise as I could but Susan wasn’t responding. I showered and packed and finally she stirred. By the time we packed the car, and had breakfast it was after 8. We were again going to cut it close with Mass, at Our Lady of the Garden, so I took the autostrada and stepped on it. We would have plenty of scenery later.

We made it to Our Lady of the Garden just after 10 and we were late again for Mass, even though we got a parking spot right in front. Not to worry, I’m sure we get a little leeway from up above. The Cathedral was simple and beautiful and after mass we said our prayers in front of the image of the Madonna at the altar, for your indulgences, and intentions (we will send you an e-mail when we do yours, tonight I will call Regina and Jack because they don’t do e-mail). We bought a trinket and left figuring we could make Montellegro, 12 miles away, before it closed at 12. We drove to take the funicular up the mountain but again we ended up directly at the shrine. Sue was shaking from the ride and she hadn’t seen anything yet.

The Minor Basilica sits atop the mountain and the views are spectacular. The Basilica is so very beautiful. The icon of Our Lady is very small and set lovingly above the altar. We again prayed for the intentions we had brought and Sue entered them in the book and we lit a candle. We had time so we sat up front near the Madonna and said our rosary. We can’t describe the feeling. This Basilica was also filled with thank you’s hung on the wall for the graces and miracles given by our Blessed Mother.

Before leaving we stopped at the funicular and had a cappuccino, I’m sure Sue would have preferred a double vodka for the ride down. Our next stop was our hotel in a small village of Uscio, high up in the mountains, like we weren’t high up already. The ride was scary to say the least. It even got to me at times when I looked down. Susan kept saying Pena de Francia from last year was easier when she was on the floor of the car then. I had to agree since the drive was 3 miles there and this one was 23 miles. See photo’s although I don’t know how she took them as she held on to the door and roof of the car at the same time. She was leaning so hard on each turn I think they will have to replace the leather on the door of the car! I finally saw her doing it and asked if she was getting ready to jump out or trying to keep the car on the road. LOL. WE (I) laughed all the way to the hotel. On the way we stopped at a church that had a statue of Our Blessed mother and both said a Hail Mary, I kept repeating to myself the sign from La Sallette France, come my children, do not be afraid. Boy, does that work!

The owner, of the hotel, Eugino was as pleasant as could be. His knowledge of English was comparable as my knowledge of Chinese but we communicated beautifully. We got our room and went down to explore the town. That took about 3 minutes. Back at the hotel we decided we deserved a beer and sat outside enjoying the view. Several local people joined us and we sat there trying to communicate. Somehow we did and we all laughed, took photos and enjoyed our time. Eugino’s daughter arrived and her English was great, so she explained to them our pilgrimage and that we had driven up to Montellegro before arriving. I think someone said stupid! in Italian and Susan shook her head yes.

Tonight if we can stay awake we will dine in the Eugino’s restaurant. Maybe I will tell him I’m a chef. No, he would probably tell me to cook my own. They already feel like family. What a great day! You may get extra pictures of tonight’s festivities which I will comment on tomorrow.

I want to share an e-mail from Sue’s niece and goddaughter that she wrote for Religion class and got an A+. It was really sweet and rewarding.

The Person I Admire Most: Aunt Susie

The person whom I admire the most is my God-mother, and aunt, Susie. I admire this particular person because of what she has done for me in my spiritual and everyday life.

Each year my God-mother takes a trip to  Europe. She and her husband have been doing this for five years, this year being the sixth. I have just recently found out about her pilgrimages, last year in fact, and I love that she is doing this. In Italy my aunt and uncle will visit over 20 shines or sacred sites and send emails/ pictures of all the places they visit. I believe this has helped my faith life over the past year.

            Her going to Italy has not been the only thing she has done to help my spiritually. When I was in third grade she gave me a rosary blessed by Pope John Paul II, and has seen the pope get chosen (the smoke from the chimney) twice now.

            Despite the fact that she lives in Florida I believe that we are very close. She has texted me just to say “Hello to my Goddaughter, just texting to say that we love you and miss you.” Just these little words have helped me. For her to take time out of her busy day just to text that has helped me, it makes me feel happy. I believe some people take for granted a simple “thank you”, “I love you/ I miss you”, or “have a nice day” just those simple words can brighten someone’s day, they surely have with me. That is why I believe that my God-mother is someone I admire, not just in my faith life, but also for the little things she does.

Jane …….

The stories of today’s shrines are below plus lots of photos of the terror of Susan to follow.

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