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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