Tom & Sue Personal Pilgrimage: Accidental Tourist June 16 (Day 21)

Jane  Dobric:
Well, the title says it all. We listened to everyone, including Father Tomasz, and left early for the Salt  Mines and the tour from hell.

Editors note:  The Wieliczka salt mine dates from the 13th Century, and was in operation up until 2007.  Over the centuries, the miners carved statues, as well as four chapels, completely made out of salt.  Since the majority of these miners were Catholic, almost everything in here relates to the Catholic Church.  It is one of Poland’s most popular tourist attractions. 

Even without breakfast and only 2 cups of coffee……I was ready for anything but this.  When we parked, we had to pay the attendant, but he didn’t speak English, so we walked up some stairs and around a loop and then down some stairs to the ticket window.  It took 10 minutes  and we ended up 30 feet from where we parked and missed the 8:30 tour by a minute.

Now you know me, mister  patience, I wasn’t too happy because I wasn’t sure I wanted to be here in the first place.  We stood at the front of “no line” for awhile as other non-group tourists arrived for the tour. I  must say that at 9:00 sharp we were led in to a chamber and waited a few minutes  before we had to descend 390 stairs.  With my arthritis it’s not so bad going  down stairs, but 390? 

At the bottom we were led thru a bunch of corridors, felt like we were there an hour until we saw the first SALT statue of fat man who was important.  

My ear phone kept  falling out! So I don’t know what she said. I decided that we should keep close to her so we could at least hear. A few more tunnels and the tour really heated  up, when we saw the ropes and pullies and fake horses and cave men and more SALT  statues of fat people, but important fat people. 

Now, rock salt is dark  grey and black and is hardened rock and I won’t bore you with all the things I learned, but some of it was interesting.  I did feel like a hostage because after less than an  hour on the tour I felt like it was way past the hour and a half this tour would  take. Now I was starting to panic because we wanted to go to noon mass at the  Saint John Paul II center. 

Susan kept telling me it was only 10 and I kept telling her that her watch was broken. I decided to get friendly with the guide, her name was Natasha, no this is no joke, she was from Romania, and to be exact she was born in Transylvania.  I backed off a  little remembering that she told everyone not to take her picture and she loved caves. I can’t wait to see those pictures or not
see those I took with her in  it.   

The only real thing we cared about was the large church made all of salt. They have a chapel in the John Paul II Center like that.  I asked the vamp if we were close and she said we where but had to walk  down another 250 stairs to get there and after there were another 150+ more stairs before the end. Now…….that’s a 40 story building folks.

Now I start playing  the arthritis card and started to slowly and quietly whimper a little…..rather  loud, actually….. and Susan panicked not knowing my plan.  I saw  someone down here in the church in a wheel chair and he had to come in by  elevator and that’s the place I wanted to be.  Get me  out of here!  No one was paying attention and Natasha said you had to be registered to use the lifts.  Great. 

I asked how many more tunnels till we got out and she said three. She lied……..and when we did finish, she dropped the bomb. They make you go thru  each gift store, restaurant and shop in order to get out.  The walk was about a  ½ mile.  The bomb was that when you got to the lifts, it could  take a 1/2 hour to an hour to get in a lift.  She  told us to go stand in line when we got there and it was 1st  come first serve. 

Wrong!  We were the first people in line and a tour group muscled their way in and they got to go first.  We weren’t too happy, but let them go first and as luck would have it, there was room for 2 more on the last one.   The ride up was in a mine shaft and the car held 8 people elbow to elbow and you could not see a thing except cracks of light now and then. We made it as  we were left off in another gift shop area, and I said to Susan, bring some SALT  home from the apartment. 

We left and when we got in the car the clock said 11:00 AM.  I thought it was afternoon.  The  longest morning of my life was only 1 1/2 hours!

With so many new prayer requests for Saint John Paul II and Divine Mercy, we had decided to go to the shrine for mass to pray and leave them there to be read at mass.  After mass it was  off to Saint Faustinas’ to pray the Divine Mercy and leave  intentions.

From here our plan was to  go to the church of the Rock and pray the rosary. Which we did………but not before stopping for some perogi’s at a real off the beaten path place. The place was packed and we finally ordered and only got ½ the order.  We ate and left ½  full. 

We found the church and accomplished what we came for, except that mass started in the beginning of our prayers, so we finished outside next to the statue of Saint John Paul II.

Back at the apartment we did a  few things and went to eat, since today’s intake of food consisted of one piece of cake and six perogi’s split between the two of us. We went to Corlione’s, one of our  favorite restaurants.  Susan had Octopus, freshly grilled with lemon and olive oil and I had a  homemade spinach gnocchi and salad. As usual we had wine and left $29.00 poorer.  DIETYILK? 
Both were outstanding and finally  satisfied we headed back for a good night’s sleep.

The following was sent to  us from an old friend who teaches in Costa Rica, and we have not seen each other in over 30 years, but he found me on facebook and we have been writing and  praying for each other ever since. 


“It doesn’t make one holier to kneel where a saint has knelt, but it is

Those words are so true. Yes, I want to be holy, but the holiness comes 
from within and not from outside the heart. Being holy is denying myself, 
picking up my daily crosses, and walking the painful journey of the Holy Cross.
 I only wish being holy was as simple as praying in the same spot of a 

Through the Grace from God may we all become Saints,
Susan & Tom

May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!

Tom &  Susan Melillo
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 (USA)


_TSMelillo13@aol.com_ (


Suggestions on airport chapels around the world

If you happen to be flying on a weekend, it can be difficult to find a Catholic Mass.  We have a page dedicated to airport chapels worldwide…..but would like to hear your suggestions to add to our list.

Many domestic and international airports such as Brussels, London, New York, Dallas/Fort Worth, have chapels and a Catholic priest celebrates Mass on weekends, but we would like to make this list as complete as possible.  



Update on re-building Christ the King

Institute of Christ the King before the fire
The building before the fire

The Archdiocese of Chicago has concluded that the church building has significant structural issues and to restore the building to its state before the fire and to bring it up to current City of Chicago building code standards is cost prohibitive. The Archdiocese is predominantly self-insured and therefore there is no resort to an insurance claim with an external insurer.

Institute of Christ the King after the fire
Institute of Christ the King after the fire

Therefore the Archdiocese is moving without delay to demolish the remnants of the structure. The Archdiocese has offered the Institute the opportunity to propose a plan for rebuilding a new church on the same site. The Institute is carefully considering this as a first option, mindful of its pastoral dedication and the Shrine’s important place in the Woodlawn and Hyde Park communities. As another option, the Archdiocese has offered a South Side church which is now available for occupancy.

The Institute remains committed to its daily mission at the Shrine of living the truth in charity for the good of souls and the benefit of the local community. Thus, the Archdiocese will renew its lease with the Institute for our continued use of the rectory and parking lot. The Institute is deeply grateful for the prayers and generous support of the Shrine faithful and friends particularly at this challenging time of discernment.

For more information, and to offer a donation, click here.


Radio show for Catholic travelers

Staring Monday, August 3, 2015 there is a new radio show called “Let’s Talk Travel”, that is dedicated to Catholic travelers that will be heard every day at 15:00 GMT (11:00 Eastern time in the U.S.).  Hosted by David & Diana Von Glahn, it will have many guests that will share their Catholic travel experiences with you as well as give you tips to make your travel experience even more meaningful.  

Some of the guests on the show will include blogger Denise Bossert, Catholic Foodie Jeff Young, Amy Welborn, and Jerome Robinson (great tips on how to stay fit when traveling) and a number of priests and nuns who will share the special places you can visit.  

Can’t listen live?  Sign up for their podcasts and listen anytime.  

Click here for more information about the show.


June 9: Gans to La Solitude, Martillac & La Creche

Bon-Bon  (LOL):

Well, we  woke up at Jackie’s and mom’s. after a great, great night’s sleep. Being “at home” as Jackie wanted us to feel, we left our room and went out to  get coffee in our “jammies”.  There were 4 other guests at the B&B this morning so we all sat in the Breakfast Salon together since it was set for  6.  The other 4 guests were all dressed up as we sat there in our “jammies”, perfectly  comfortable.

We had an  array of fresh breads & croissants of all sorts, French cheeses, homemade jams which were local, Caribbean and other selections.  During breakfast,  one of the other women wanted coffee and I saw that Jackie was on the  phone.  So, I immediately went into the kitchen, grabbed the pot of coffee and returned to pour the woman more coffee. She looked at me “shocked” because I was a guest.  It was apparent that they were all shocked …including Jackie when he saw me return with the pot.  We laughed with him about it later as the three of us sat our on the back patio and chatted before  our departure.

We said our farewells to was still upstairs asleep.
We said our farewells to Jackie…mom was still upstairs asleep.

We  returned to our room, showered and packed up the car before going back to chat  with Jackie a bit more since it was obvious he didn’t want us to leave … his  English-speaking new friends.  Mom was still upstairs fast asleep  since the four of us had stayed up pretty late the night before laughing and talking (and getting her to speak English which she did a great job of).  We bid  “farewell” to Jackie and he told us that when/if we ever return to their home, we will always have the “Martinique Suite” … even if he has to kick someone  out of it.  After fond good-bye’s, we  departed.

Our first  stop of the day was La Solitude – Notre Dame des Bois – The Holy Family of  Bordeaux in Martillac, France.  We were in the hopes of seeing the Eucharistic Miracle of Bordeaux Relic(s) in Bordeaux, but through emails to the Church of Sainte Eulalie, Father Didier Monget had suggested we also visit La  Solitude which we did put on our Itinerary.  When we arrived at the Spiritual Center at La Solitude, we were quite surprised that our name was on  their schedule of pilgrims.  Susan had emailed them before our trip to  request information, but we had no idea they were waiting for us.  One of  the greeters told us that Sister Catherine had been awaiting our arrival and  that she was now in the Chapel of the Tomb of Father Pierre Bienvenu Noailles,  the founder of the Order, and that 11:30 A.M. Mass was about to begin.  She invited us to stay to attend Mass with the Sisters and she brought us in to  Sister Catherine.

Mass at L'lle bouchard
Mass in the Chapel at La Solitude

It was a beautiful Mass in a small Chapel.  The Chapel was filled with Religious Sisters, elderly residents (this, we found, was another home for the elderly)  and guests.  Communion was very special … we received the Eucharist along  with the Congregation but I noticed that everyone was walking up to the Altar after receiving so I nudged Susan to do the same.  On the Altar were two  Chalices which some “tinctured” their Host and others consumed and then took the  Precious Blood.  After Mass, we all sat silently for a while in deep  contemplation.

The two of us did not see Sister in the foyer after Mass so we walked back outside to look  around the grounds.  Sister came around the corner and, lo and behold, she  spoke wonderful English.  She asked if we would like to join them for lunch, but we were still full from breakfast, so we graciously declined.  The she informed us that the only remaining item from the Eucharistic Miracle was the Monstrance that had contained the Sacred Host at one time.  Sister was on her way to lunch and said that she would return to us afterward.  We told her we would walk the grounds and determine the rest of the schedule for the day because I had it jam-packed full on our Itinerary.

After  plugging in our remaining destinations for the day and on to our next B&B  for the night, I realized that we did not have enough hours in the day for the driving, the visiting of the Shrines I had scheduled and then getting to our next destination hotel so I had to make the “executive decision” to depart.  We didn’t know where Sister was having her lunch, so we left the Monastery and headed towards Notre Dame de  Talence.

Talence,  France is on the outskirts of Bordeaux.  We had not been there before and  we never expected the traffic to be so crazy and busy.   It took us quite some time to reach our destination through the myriad of traffic. 

Sue miraculously figured out how to work the parking meter--very hi tech
Sue miraculously figured out how to work the parking meter–very hi tech

Once we arrived, and fortunately, I found a parking place almost directly in  front of the Shrine.  I couldn’t figure out how to use their parking meter,  though, so Susan took a whack at it and, miraculously, she got us a parking ticket for one hour … for “free”. 

As we walked to the Shrine, however, I  took notice of the very large “parking lot” for the Shrine … no parking meters  … oh well!

The pieta in Notred Dame de Talence
The pieta in Notred Dame de Talence

We really  didn’t know what to expect at Notre Dame de Talence.  As we entered the  Shrine, we noted that some parts were very, very old while up near the Altar and  Sanctuary, it appeared to be very ultra-modern.  There were beautiful, old stone Stations of the Cross as we proceeded towards the Altar in search of the Sacred Statue of the Pieta. 

praying at the Pieta in Talence
Praying for all of our intentions at the Pieta in Talence

On the right of the Sanctuary was a very old  and small Chapel with the very, very old “Pieta” statue of Our Lady and the Crucified Christ lying on her knees.  It was breathtaking!  We knelt  and Prayed before the Pieta for what we felt was a very long time. 

We leave your prayer intentions at every shrine we visit, if at all possible
We leave your prayer intentions at every shrine we visit, if at all possible

Then, as always if it is available, Susan entered your Intentions in their Prayer Book and we lit a candle before Our Lady on your behalf.  We then sat in front  of the Pieta and Prayed our Rosary and our Daily Litany of Prayers in  quiet.  There were a few others around us …also in deep Prayer. 

 After leaving the Shrine, Susan and I both agreed that there was something “quite special” about the Shrine and the “Pieta” Statue … a great sense of  tranquility had filled us  both.

Knowing  that Susan’s “free time” on the parking meter was running out, we
knew that it  was time to depart for our next destination so we walked back to the car.   We realized that we were parked almost directly in front of a train station stop  that “could have” taken us in to Bordeaux and to Eglise Sainte Eulalie where the Father of St. Therese de Lisieux, Louis Martin, was Baptized.  He and his  wife, Zelie, will be Canonized on October 19, 2015. We had looked forward  to visiting this special Shrine and meeting Father Didier Monget whom Susan had  communicated with before our trip, but looking at the time … having been told  by Jackie at our B&B that one does not want to get caught in the “rush hour  traffic” in Bordeaux … and knowing that we still have a long two hour drive  from Bordeaux to get to our next Bed & Breakfast, we knew that we had to put  this Shrine on our agenda for our next journey through France.  Reluctantly, we departed to La Creche, our next night’s  stay.

We headed  to our next destination and hoped to find a place to stop and eat along the  way.  We were driving on the hectic Autovia (Toll Road of France) and  didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find a restaurant without a major  diversion.  I finally decided to get off the Autovia in a small town along  the way. 

With all the cafes closed, we had to improvise.  Thank goodness for those good French breads
With all the cafes closed, we had to improvise. Thank goodness for those good French breads

Almost an hour later … and walking in to cafe’s to be told  they had stopped food service until the evening, we left the small town with the  only thing we had found available to eat … a large slice of French bread with  one slice of ham, one slice of cheese and some dijon mustard … at that point,  we didn’t care.  We were both starving and chowed it down. 

Once our headaches were gone, we both agreed that finding somewhere to eat in France and Spain during the afternoon is not an easy task.  After  heavy traffic and numerous toll stops, we finally arrived at our next Bed &  Breakfast in La Creche (where we realized later we should have just driven to in  order to have a nice, casual lunch.)  Once we had checked in, the lovely  young woman who owns the B&B told us that there was a fabulous Pizza Cafe  and a Cambodian Restaurant a “stone’s throw” away and that both had been open  until a short time ago … two places we “could have” eaten today if we hadn’t stopped in that small town with no food except a  “sang-wich”!

We had  very nice accommodations again at this lovely B&B.  We settled in and  decided that we should try our “Google Voice” that I had set up before our  departure from home.  I was hoping that these calls will be “free” as we were told … otherwise, we’re going to have one HUGE phone bill when we return home.  Especially since many of our family/friends did not answer
when we called, because it shows an “850” area code, so they probably assumed it was a  tele-marketer or two.

We made a very special point of calling Barry & Corinne but she wouldn’t answer either.  So, I called our Cathedral to have their daughter, Monet, call them directly and tell them to ANSWER THE PHONE!  Monet told me that Jim F. was over with Barry so, after I tried to call Corinne’s cell the second time and she still didn’t answer, I dialed Jim’s number and he did “take a chance” and answered his phone (thanks, Jim). The 5 of us (on speaker phone) shared a lot of laughs and a great conversation.

Susan then IM’d our friend, Johna, to tell her to answer her cell phone with a strange number (which she had not done before but she did tonight).   So we had laughs and we realized that we are missing all of you very much … well, truth be told, wish you were here with us!  Oh, I forgot … you all are and have been here with us (vicariously) in the back seat with our Angels.

I  briefly thought about going out for dinner after 8:00 P.M. when everything will re-open.  As we worked on our computers, we noshed on our left-over potato chips and cheese-doodles and put our heads on our pillows just around  8:30 P.M. … lights out and no dinner  again!

Until  tomorrow … Au Revoir!

O Most Holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the  overwhelming
grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the  crucifixion, and
the death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of  compassion and
awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings,  as well as a
sincere detestation of my sins, in order that, being disengaged  from all
undue affections for the passing joys of this earth, I may long for the
eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforth all my thoughts and all my actions may be
directed toward this one most desirable object.
Honor, glory, and love to our Divine Lord Jesus, and to the Holy and
Immaculate Mother of God.

Love Susan & Tom



June 8: Tom & Sue visit Our Lady of the Afflicted

Bon  Jour:

Well, we are back in France and the trip was tedious with all of the traffic and then all of the AutoVia  (Highway/Tollway) road construction.  I think Susan would have been happier going back to Lekitio again.  Passing lots of trucks in narrow lanes for miles was not fun for her or for moi. At one point, we must have passed a convoy of 100 trucks, They were not allowed in the left lane. Thank  God!

We were in bed last night by 8:30 P.M..  I  think we were both traumatized and I was exhausted after cooking dinner for 2 and a 3rd large glass of wine.  I got up around 6:30 AM and I let Susan sleep after I moved her to the bedroom till about 8AM.  I made a sandwich for the road and got breakfast ready to go for when she awoke. Half a pot  of coffee later I was cleaning the kitchen, taking out the garbage and working  on the computer. This new coffee we bought was real hi-test.

Susan got up and relaxed over a cup of coffee  and our days itinerary.  (And, as Susan reviews to send this email to you  right now, she is saying … “EVERYONE IS GOING TO THINK I AM ONE LAZY  WIFE/TRAVELER BECAUSE TOM SEEMS TO BE DOING ALL OF THE WORK!!!! … I’M IN  TROUBLE  NOW!)

We would have to leave soon to visit our first shrine … Our Lady of Guadeloupe in Hondarriba, Spain … another mountain shrine for sailors. After yesterday’s Shrine, I figured I should join the Navy first. Susan said from her research  that getting in was iffy if the caretaker wasn’t there so we both  sat down and had more coffee, finally deciding we had enough mountain costal towns for now, so we will leave this for another pilgrimage.  We took our time but finally said goodbye to Rosa  and headed  out.

Arriving at our B&B
Arriving at our B&B

We arrived in Gans, France at our next B&B and were met by one of the two owners, Jackie.  The B&B has been owned by Jackie’s Parents and their family  for years.  Nowadays, Jackie and his Mom, Jacquelyn, run the B&B with the help of their staff. He was born in Bordeaux, raised in Martinique and spent  holidays in Nantucket, CT during his lifetime.  He and his Mom own this lovely home and he was very gracious and showed us the residence that all the guests were able to use.

Our room was very quaint and extremely comfortable … it was a bedroom in their home  and had our bed, small TV and a couple small night stands, plus a bathroom of course and the rest of the house … the kitchen, breakfast room, dining salon, Parlor, living room, patio, pool area, etc., etc..  He gave us our key and we put a few things in the room and headed out for
Verdelaise and  Our Lady of the Afflicted.

We were  going to meet Father Robert there and he was going to show us
around and tell us  of the background of the  Shrine.

Father Robert met us outside the Basilica
Father Robert met us outside the Basilica

We  were  20 minutes late and as we approached the Basilica there was a man standing outside. He wasn’t dressed as a priest but it had to be him and I told  Susan we were going to get scolded for being late (only joking,Father).   It didn’t happen,

Father Robert was a very gentle man and hugged Susan as soon as they said  hello.  (We do have to interject right here that Father reminded us so  very, very much of our dear friend, Father Tim O’Toole (a/k/a “TOT) … in his peacefulness, kindness, warmth and everything else).  I got a warm handshake and greeting too.  He took us into the courtyard and sat as he told us about the Shrine and the history of the town. 

A close look at the statue of Our Lady of the Afflicted
A close look at the statue of Our Lady of the Afflicted

He then took us into the Basilica with wonderful further explanations on the background of the Shrine.  Father Robert was going to leave us to Pray at the Shrine and, hopefully, walk the Way of the Cross up to the top of the hilltop.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it up the hill with my bad knee, but I was going to give it a valiant effort.

We agreed that Father Robert would meet us back at the Basilica at 4:30 P.M. and then  would walk down the street to share a glass of wine and then go to the  Rosary and attend the Evening  Mass.

We lit a candle for all your prayer intentions
We lit a candle for all your prayer intentions

We spent  some time in the Basilica praying for your intentions, lit a  candle and Susan put your intentions in the box provided. 

We walked  out to go across the street to the Stations of the Cross that wound up the hill  and I realized I couldn’t make it, my knee and leg were really bothering me today.  We went back to the car to get a pill and I realized that they  were in the bag we left at Jackie’s (our B&B for the night).

We decided that I needed a pill and went back with the intention of returning for the  Rosary and Mass. I tried to let Father know but couldn’t get thru to him on the  phone, so I took a pill and relaxed on the lounge chair.  I would have been fine, except Jackie made us a tropical coconut drink and we couldn’t say  no.  I woke up late for everything.  Susan sent Father an apology and  I’m sure he would  understand.

The  evening was great at Jackie’s and Jacquline’s (we call her mom).  We
were  in the living room on the computers but didn’t get much done as we laughed and told stories to each other for a long time.  Mom sat, and her English was great, even though she didn’t think so.  This family is very Catholic and we  shared many things that had happened throughout our all our lives. They  have a great love for St. John Paul II, just as we do.  We were going to tell them about Krakow but decided to wait and get a few things done first, but  ended up telling them anyway and then the photos came out and we shut off the computers.

When they  fed the other people that were staying at the house Susan and I
went out to the patio to have our sandwich I had made and Jackie brought us a nice bottle of wine.  He sat with us and more stories flowed  especially about his dad and the army and his life in Conn. during the summers he stayed there and his encounters with women when he was young.  Our faces hurt we laughed so hard and mom would come out now and then and confirm his stories and we would laugh again.

Jackie and Jaqueline
Jackie and Jaqueline

We had  eaten but mom brought out a small piece of steak and little salad for each of us  and then some cake.  It was too good to pass up, so we had a second  meal.  We will diet tomorrow.  It was 10:45 and mom and their cook had sat down for dinner and we forced Jackie in to eat or we would have been out  there all night. 

We all hugged and said good night and Susan and I went to our room feeling like we were again at home with our wonderful new  friends.

Susan was  asleep in less than 5 minutes and I think I was right behind her.  (It was  special this morning when Susan told me that she had awoken at Jackie &  Jacquoelen’s in our room for the night and she woke up feeling that she was in  the bedroom we always stayed in at my Mom and Dad’s in Danbury, Connecticut.  That was always a very special bedroom for us and, perhaps, the love and memories of the love and memories of this family brought us “back  in time” … thank you for that  experience.

Au  Revoir

Click here for more information about Verdelaise and Our Lady of the Afflicted.


June 5: Tom & Sue travel to Limpias & on to Our Lady of Bien Apareicida

Hola Amigas & Amigos: 

We got up this morning to see the Sun out and it appeared it was going to be a beautiful day.  We both woke together and packed up a bit and then we went down for our Cafe Con Leche & Toast to dunk in it.  We  weren’t in the dining room for 15 minutes and we came out … we could hardly see across the street.  A very heavy fog had moved in to Garabandal and, when you are in the mountains and in the clouds, it gives a whole new meaning to the word “fog”.
As Father Rolando had announced to us the evening before, Mass today was at 10:00 A.M.  So we headed to the Church to, hopefully, get in our Morning Prayers together before Mass (we had slept in a little late this morning and had packed and brought some of the luggage down to the car).
We arrived at the Village Church and saw Father Rolando on the front patio, and on his cell phone.  I told Susan … “he’s probably hearing a confession since he is so busy” … and then he actually did go into the  Church to hear Confessions before Mass.
Again, at the beginning of Mass, Father greeting us in English at the Opening Prayer and at the Sign of Peace.  He had Michael not only read the First Reading in English, but he motioned to him after he had proclaimed the Gospel … for Michael to read the Gospel in English as well! (Michael told us later he had no idea that was going to happen.)
After Mass, we went back to the Sacristy once again … this time Roberto accompanied us so that he could translate if need be.  We exchanged our feelings in both English and Spanish (through Roberto) to each other before our departure … it was a bittersweet moment to bid farewell to Father Rolando … he has been very special to us since our first visit to  Garabandal.  We promised him that we will return in “approximately one  year” and that, next time, we will remain in Garabandal for a longer stay.  Father then departed for his next Mass in another village.
We stood in front of the Village Church and spoke about so many things with Roberto before leaving.  He is originally from Mexico and had moved  to Amsterdam.  He was in Garabandal on a spiritual retreat.  A very  young and nice man who has a great loved of Our Blessed Mother, Jesus and  our Catholic Faith.
After bidding farewell to Roberto, we headed across the street to the Garabandal Pilgrim Center, where we once again met Michael as promised.   

Giving Michael the tablet with Mystical City of God on it
Giving Michael the tablet with Mystical City of God on it

Susan and I had brought a “tablet” with us on this trip that had The Mystical City of God book on it.  The two of us decided to “gift” Michael with the tablet so that he could read The Mystical City of God at his leisure. I knew he was going to give me a hard time accepting such a gift, but when he  said … “well, I will accept it as a loaned gift and will give it back to you when you return to Garabandal”.  We laughingly agreed to appease him  (ha-ha, Michael!).  He is savvy enough to figure out the tablet, but I took a little time to teach him how to bookmark his page, etc.
We then purchased a few things from the Foundation to bring home with  us.  Michael gave us two relics on medals that Our Lady had kissed with  the visionaries when she was here.  We bid farewell to our “new friend”  and we know that he will see him again.
We returned to Sari & Papa’s to finish loading the car, pay our tab  and bid farewell until next time.  Susan was in no hurry to leave …hoping that the fog would lift and the sun would come out. 

So, reluctantly, she hopped in the car and we made our way down and up and down the mountain toward our next stop … Our Lady of Bien Apareicida and the Miraculous Cross at Limpias, Spain, which was about 10 minutes away.

We were the only two people, unfortunately, at Our Lady of Bien Apareicida.  It was a beautiful Shrine where an exquisite statue of Our Lady (although very small), sits high and perched above the  Altar.  This is a favorite destination for many and place of  pilgrimage for many people … just not today, I suppose. 

That was “okay  with us” so that we could enjoy and Pray.  The two of us lit a candle for  your Special Intentions and sat in the Church Praying our Rosary.  I  realized that it was close to 3:00 P.M. … time for Divine Mercy.  I  really wanted to Pray our Divine Mercy Prayers at Limpias and in front of the  Miraculous Cross of Christ.  So, we left Bien and agreed to finish our  last decade of the Rosary at Limpias as well … for today was the Decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries and we felt it appropriate.
We made it to Limpias at 3:00 P.M. on the dot and we are now “two for  two”!  IT WAS LOCKED AGAIN!  We have been to Limpias 4 times … we  have been lucky enough to have been into the Shrine only twice!  Very  Sad.

Outside of the Church that holds the Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias
Outside of the Church that holds the Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias

So the two of us sat in our car directly in front of the Shrine and finished our Rosary and Prayed Divine Mercy … keeping Christ company from outside.

Once again, we have to be are not the only things on the road in the Basque country!
Once again, we have to be careful….cars are not the only things on the road in the Basque Country!

We then began our treck to our next B&B in the Basque Country of Spain. Our stomachs were once again growling since it was 3:00+ in the afternoon and we had only had coffee and some bread-fast in the morning.  The drive, which was mainly on the highway, went through  numerous big cities in Spain and I wanted to beat rush hour and traffic.
We were two minutes away from our apartment B&B and we opted to  drive 6 miles further to get to a “Supermarche” (grocery store), knowing that we had to eventually eat.  We didn’t even have time for a photo op in the  store because we ran through the store and grabbed anything we could find that  looked appetizing (including a frozen pizza).

We arrived at our next B&B around 6:00 P.M. and “Rosa”, the  owner, was waiting to greet us and happily showed us to our very small room (LOL:  See Photos).  This was/is “heaven” and we weren’t sure if we would ever get in the car again! 

Dutifully, we managed to get out a Trip Report, had our pizza and some cheese, Chorizo, bread and a large glass of wine.  We were already in our “jammies” so, shortly thereafter, we were in our bedroom.   There was only one problem when we went to retire: There were two  pillows. Unfortunately, each of them were about 5 feet long and the  bed was a bit of an oversized queen bed.  As we tried to figure out how to position the two of us and negotiate our pillows, it felt like there  were two other bodies in our bed … I don’t know what happened because, two seconds later, I was fast asleep and I think Susan followed me shortly  thereafter.
Buenos Noches


Tom & Sue June 1st A last goodbye to Prado Nuevo and on to Segovia


We wanted to break the alarm clock when it went off this morning, but instead we reluctantly got up and showered before breakfast. More vulture eggs and bacon and we have managed to reduce the amount of caffeine  with only 1 1/2 cups each.  It’s nice not having the shakes!!
This morning was laundry day……we couldn’t put it off any  longer.  Before going to the laundromat, we stopped at a Carrfour super-market superstore. This made W-Mart look like a 7-11.  We  didn’t have the camera and a good thing, I didn’t know where to look  first.  They had an amazing array of everything.
We loaded up on water, wine, paper towels and laundry soap.  We then went to the woman’s clothes and bought 10 Pasminas for the residents at the Foundation Home.  We found the laundromat on the first try, again another place stuck on a small side street with no parking available.   On our second try, Sue and I both were praying quietly and a spot came open just around the corner.  Almost 2 hours later we had fresh clean  clothes to hopefully get us home.  I’ll never complain about doing the  laundry at home again since it’s only 20 feet away.
On the way from Madrid to Prado Nuevo,  we saw a gas station and it was time to fill  up so we stopped and a young man jumped out of nowhere and pumped it for  me. We had a few laughs and he said to me: car wash?  I looked at  the car and agreed it was time, so they included it on the bill and I drove  in to meet the same young man who got the wash going.  The car was so clean we decided to vacuum and clean the inside windows to add the finishing touches.
We were hungry so we went into El Escorial and had a burger, it wasn’t  bad, and we then went to the shrine around 3:00 PM, an hour before Antonio  and Marie del Carmen (Padre Guillermo’s Mom and Dad) were to meet us. When we entered, Eduardo, one of the caretakers, came over to say hello. We met him 3 years ago and when we said Americanos he remembered us and we each got a hug.  He opened the gate protecting the tree Our Mother appeared on and let us venerate it: I held on tight as I did so.  We then walked to the end of the shrine to the first station and prayed the Stations of the cross alone with Jesus and Our  Mother.  As always, the peace and tranquility was overwhelming.
At 4:00 p.m. sharp Tony and Carmen arrived and we hopped into their car and went to the cemetery to visit Florita’s grave.  It was bittersweet that we hadn’t seen her before she died but we were happy that she was now at home with the Lord.
Sue given Florita's rosaryThe rosary in the field in front of the first apparition and Mass in the Chapel: what more can I say.  It was off to the Foundation home again with the Pasminas and flowers for the Sisters.  Sister Pilar was not there, so it was the universal language again.  The women loved their gift as Susan draped and tied one around each one of them.  It  was a warming sight since most of them have no family at all.
I took a lot of pictures and will make a video for them with them in it and send it after we get home.  They still watch the video from the last trip we made through here in 2012. Two of the women had a  race so we could see
how fast the could walk it was funny.  There is a  lot of love and care given to these people and I know they are truly  grateful no matter what state of health they are in.

After the home we went to Fr. Guillermo’s rectory and community family house the has around 40 people who live and work there for the good of the whole and 10 priest and religious. I thought the Sisters worked hard, and  the Sisters agreed, but these people work harder taking care of the  land and livestock, the repairs and building and everything else you can  think about.  We got see the room where Amparro had first received the  stigmata of Christwhich is now a chapel. 

We finally bid farewell to Fr. Guillermo and his parents and God willing we will see them next year. It was 9 PM and we had to get up early to pack and planned to go to mass at the foundation chapel where the house the original statue of Our Lady that was desecrated  many years  ago.
Back at the hotel we packed and jumped into bed hoping for a good  night’s
sleep.  Sue was out in a flash and I contemplated how much I was going to
miss that garage. LOL  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Buneos Noches


Tom & Sue travel from Lourdes to Zaragosa

Bon Soir one last time from France (for this leg of our  “pilgrimage”):

We arose early this morning, knowing that we had an almost a four-hour drive over the Pyrenees Mountains to Zaragoza,  Spain.   We initially had the hopes of making Mass one more time at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.  But it was raining and very cold so we opted to get to Zaragoza to make the 5:00 P.M. Mass there.   It was so wonderful to “finally” have options to attend Daily Mass.

We headed out of Lourdes and began the long trek up the Pyrenees Mountain Range.  I zigzagged our way up to the top  on some very, very narrow mountain roads.  I  think Susan took over 100 photos of the escalating ride through the mountains, but I think there are less than a dozen that we kept… and  several are still a bit blurry because I don’t think she enjoyed the exuberating ride as much as I did …In fact, I’m sure!  A  lot of “dashboard shots” were sent to the cutting room  floor.

When we reached the very top of the Pyrenees … and  just before crossing the border into Spain, we stopped to stretch our legs,  pull Susan out of the
car, have a cup of Café Con Leche, a Toilette and chill her nerves.   Having accomplished all, we headed back on the  road and the descent down the Pyrenees with the same photo opportunities (or  lack there-of) that Susan was in charge of. The drive, to me, was spectacular, stupendous, invigorating and every other word I could possibly use to describe the experience … as it always has been for me as I drive across these incredible  mountain ranges. And Susan won’t admit until 2 days later. I think she said to remind her not to talk to me until we got to Florida 2 times.

We made it to Zaragoza around 1:30 P.M. and  finally found our hotel in the
center of the Town Center (I hate cities … I  think we drove down every narrow street).  I parked our car in their private garage, we brought our overnight bags to the  room and headed out with one rolling suitcase filled with our laundry … it  was time!   Well, it was at least a 40 minute fiasco since the girl at the front desk had given us directions to a “dry cleaners” which was not open and could have taken 5 days to get our clean  clothes.   We kept walking back and forth on a thoroughfare  … asking at least a dozen different people where the “lavandere” (coin laundry) was.   We were answered by each with different directions … in completely different  areas of the city!   We continued to walk around toting our rolling suitcase for about 10 more minutes before giving up and returning to our hotel.   Not a lot of photos when things are not “happy  times”.  Back at the hotel, I got on to Google Maps and  found a local coin laundry nearby … it was only about a 9 minute walk from  the hotel … blocks away from it when trying to find our way.  Case closed … no laundry in Zaragoza!   I checked for a couple of laundries in areas we  will be staying in the next few days and found one where we have a two night  stay.   So laundry will have to wait.   Except for the socks & underwear that Susan decided to wash/sanitize in the bathtub at our Zaragoza hotel. Now it was time for what we had come to Zaragoza for …  to visit and Pray at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza,  Spain … it has been our dream to re-visit this magnificent Shrine to Our Lady which we had been to five years ago. It was just as beautiful and sacred as ever … just  as we had both remembered.  From the moment you walk through the tremendous huge double doors, your whole being is taken over by the  Sanctity of Our Lord, Our Lady, the Saints and the Angels.

This is one of few Shrines where we have been  “scolded” when trying to capture photos to share with all of  you.   This time we got a bit “lucky”!  We  were only yelled at once for being caught taking photos … but that is “okay”  … I managed to get as many photos as possible so that you can experience  this majestic and Holy Shrine. On our last pilgrimage, we got caught with Susan  taking a photo of me venerating the Pillar of Our Lady.  Susan got angry with the priest who yelled at us him because she  wanted to share this Sacred Shrine with all of you. 
When Father saw us at Mass a little later, we think he was a little  shocked
and felt guilty because it was apparent we were there to Honor Our Lady …
we were not there as “Tourists”.

Sitting in the front row at Mass … just several  feet from Our Lady of the Pillar during the 5:00 P.M. Mass was an incredible  experience.   The piety, the Prayers, the reverence of the Congregation, the Clergy and those around Our Lady’s Chapel is not able to  be described.   We do not take photos during a Mass Liturgy, so we  hope you feel our inspirations. When Mass concluded, we remained in our pew … in  front of the Sacred Statue of Our Lady Holding Jesus and Prayed our Rosary  for all of you and your Special Intentions.  Having finished our Rosary and almost ready to depart the Shrine, we  returned to once again Venerate Our Lord on the Cross to thank him for this  day and to petition Him to hear our Prayers for your Intentions.

The story of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza,  Spain is here.   This
story also encompasses a good part of a  Chapter in The Mystical City of God book … for this was the First Apparition  of Our Blessed Mother (in 40 A.D.) when she was still alive on this Earth …  and the Angels transported Her from Jerusalem to Zaragoza  to console and guide Saint James … please be sure to read The Mystical City  of God by Venerable Maria de Jesus de Agreda … you won’t ever forget  it.

We returned to our hotel room, got out our Trip  Report from the previous day, and settled in for the evening after another sang-o-wich to appease our hunger.  Lights out at 9:00 P.M. to be ready for an early morning.   
Bona Serra (not sure … just arrived in  Spain!)

Susan and Tom

Tom & Susan Melillo
Palm Beach Gardens,  FL 33418 (USA)

_TSMelillo13@aol.com_ (   

Mary, Mother of  Jesus,
give me your  heart
so beautiful, so  pure,
so  immaculate,
that I may  be able to receive
Jesus  in the Bread of Life,
love Him as you loved Him,
and serve Him as you served  Him
in the distressing  disguise
of the poorest  of the poor.