I ended up on the sofa (we were watching TV) since I fell asleep and when I woke up to go to bed Susan was pretty much sprawled on both sides. I didn’t want to wake her so back to the sofa I went and it wasn’t bad. I figured I had better get used to it since today was going to be a doozy.
The morning routine didn’t change and we headed out to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace, Mentorella or better known as the Ment, where we “meant” to go. It was a little cloudy and traffic was a bear. We headed up the mountain and Susan moans and groans were pretty bad. I was laughing almost the whole way as she would lean into the turns one way and her lips would go the other. Soon she was laughing but still leaning pretty hard.
The ride was stunning as we came in a different way and as long as you didn’t look down. There are lots of photos as there were 3 days ago. When we got back to the little town we were at before we still had 10 miles to go, up and down and up and down. We were stopped a couple of times by horses and cows in the road and we hardly saw a car on the whole journey.
The turn into the shrine area is rather dramatic and scary as hell. Right before the last turn into the shrine there was a sign saying don’t enter, so we parked in the rest area right there and walked the last 1/2 mile to the shrine. I should have known better, when we got there there was a big parking lot and lots of room since we were the only pilgrims there. The lot also served as the heli-pad and we were glad we drove.
The sun was still in and out and we should have walked the grounds and taken pictures of the vistas before we went into the shrine, since not long after the clouds closed in over the mountain and the rains came. When we went in we fell into a graceful peace and immediately knelt and prayed. Jesus was present and over Him on the altar was a beautiful carved statue of Mother and Child. After our prayers for the indulgence we took ever so much time looking at every inch of this marvelous church. This was Blessed John Paul’s II favorite place and now we knew why.
There was a caretaker around and he told me that the don’t close at 12:30 as other shrines and told us to visit the Grotto of St. Benedict and the holy stairs to heaven (100 of them) as it seemed when we looked up and the clouds covered it and were shining with light. You felt like you could walk up and never return, with the rain we decided to stay below.( balk, balk balk!) From that point you can get the best photos of the valleys below but today you could hardly see 50 feet ahead (balk, balk, balk).
We went to the cave and that was a beautiful experience, although a tight fit. When you entered the lights came on automatically and after a while they would go off, good thing no one could hear us scream when they went off. It was hard to imagine that St Benedict lived in this cave for 2 years while discerning his future, and we think it’s rough when the lights go out in a storm and we have no A/C.
Back at the shrine we went to the side altar, as there was another couple who were there praying, and began our rosary on these very hard kneelers. After beginning the First part of the rosary we went to the back of the altar and sat in front of the memorial to Blessed John Paul and a beautiful icon of the Mother and child. We finished the final prayers back on our knees at the side of the Madonna. I went back to Blessed John Paul’s memorial to take the time to thank him and Our Mother for the gift of speech for Karina and asked that he continue to help her to be fully cured, knowing well that these afflictions are sometimes a blessing from God and his reason is beyond our comprehension.
This is a place for prayer and as close to God and heaven as you will ever come, and as Blessed John Paul said when he was here so well:
After lighting candles for all your intentions and our we went into the dining room used by all who stay here and on the walls were photos of the visit by our last 2 popes. ( Pope Francis came an hour later to meet up with us in his helicopter). Some of the photos you will see are pictures of the vistas that we couldn’t share with you today because of the weather. The others are in fond memory of Blessed John Paul.
We bid the Ricardo, the caretaker ( he could have been the priest) goodbye and mad our way back to the car for another joyous ride, as Susan would put it, down the mountain. It took Sue awhile to organize herself and get buckled in after trying to fasten herself with her pocketbook. The ride down was harry to say the least, since at time we could only see about 10 feet in front of ourselves. There were a lot more moans and groans and I think I even gave a few.
We headed for Frascati and Our Lady of Capocroce. Frascati is an ancient city with an icon of the Virgin and Son. The icon was in the church when it was bombed in the second world war but survived and was found in the rubble after the liberation.
When we got there the church was closed and we decided to have a coffee and share a brandy to warm up and wait till 4 and see if they opened. The couple that owned the bar told us that the church we went to wasn’t the right one and to go around the corner and after our break we did and it wasn’t 50 feet away and open, well almost, there is an iron gate that keeps you from getting into the church proper and you are stuck in the entry. It didn’t matter as we knelt and prayed and I took some beautiful photos of this miraculous icon. As we were praying it started to rain again so very hard the roof sounded as if it would cave in and as we stood there the sun light came in and brilliantly lit up the altar. We both went to our knees and prayed a little more. We looked for a window outside the church and couldn’t find one and didn’t care because the subtle thank you’s are wonderful and they remain with you forever.
Once outside, the rain had stopped and we walked to the car. Our car was parked at the other church and it was open and we went in and were quite surprised at the history it contained. Most of this area was bombed in 1944 and rescued by the Americans. Almost all the churches were destroyed except for this one and only the icon in the last. It turned into quite a day full of love, prayer, thanksgiving and time with the Divine.
The ride home was ugly with traffic and we stopped at our favorite restaurant, the supermarket, (this trip has not been a gourmet delight) and for 20 Euro’s I got us diner that I would prepare at the hotel. It was fun to cook and we have a romantic meal, candlelight and all.
We took the wishbone from the chicken and Susan lost the break, the dishes were hers, but I helped. Planning our day tomorrow is not easy since there are so many places to go and Susan is working hard on the Itinerary since tomorrow we weren’t supposed to be here. I’m sure we will have another glorious day. Good night all.
Susan and Tom
Mary, Mother of God my mother, Queen of Peace, ask your Son Jesus to give me the gift of peace. Pray for me for peace; peace in my heart, peace of mind and of soul, peace in my family, peace with all whom I meet, the peace of Jesus.
Jesus, my Lord and Savior, my Brother, King of Peace, I come to you.