Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure in Italy Day 26 Our Lady of Divine Love & Tre Fontane

Buena Sera:

Ground hog day started again with the bacon and eggs and cappuccino’s.  Today we were supposed to leave for Vetirbo and we changed plans.  I love this place and I even conquered the very small shower.  I have learned to drop water on my legs before I get in and then rub with body wash and then squeeze sideways into the box as the water is running and this works until I drop the soap and Susan has to come in to get it for me.  With the right attitude you can get used to anything.

The car or as we call now the UFO (Carmine named it that when he was with us at night and I locked it…..and 42 lights blinked all over the car, not to mention the new feature I found that jabs you in the butt as you drive if you cross the center line) it is filthy and I think I don’t care.  For what they charged  they should come to America and wash mine at home.

Mass in the Sanctuary of Divine Love
Mass in the Sanctuary of Divine Love

Today was beautiful as we visited 2 apparitions from Our Lady in the outskirts of Rome. Both were wonderful in their own way and we had mass and prayed and walked most of the grounds. Our Lady of Divine Love and the three fountains.  There are actually two places known as Tre Fontane in this area.

On Sunday we will return to Our Lady of Divine Love where we will leave all of the petitions we have received and carried for you and invoke the Blessed Mother to answer you in some way or another.  It is always a very emotional day for us as we re-read all of your needs and hope that we all remember that it is the will of God that we need to accept.

The Basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls
The Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls

Before heading back we went to St. Paul of the Cross outside the walls.  We had been here before and remembered it all like yesterday.  There are plenty of explanations in the photos, so you are on your own, we are beat and plan to go back and have leftovers and snuggle up together and watch a good movie. We will see who falls asleep first!

I guess we can say see you soon since tomorrow is our last full day of adventures before we leave on Mon. 6:15 AM—ugh.  Sunday night we will definitely be in bed early.  We hope you have enjoyed our journey and in some way were filled with the grace of Our Lord and His blessed Mother, Our Mother too.

God Bless you all

Susan and Tom

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Italy Adventure Day 25 Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace

Buona Sera!

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.

Another exciting drive...not sure how much more of this excitement we can take!
Another exciting drive…not sure how much more of this excitement we can take!

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.

One of us definitely needs to yield the right of way....maybe it should be us!
One of us definitely needs to yield the right of way….maybe it should be us!

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.

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 24 Papal Audience in Rome

Buona Sera:

When we got up this morning it was really dark and really raining and really early. I spent half of the night getting up thinking it was time…..I hate that, the wake up call came just as I entered a deep sleep. We dressed and Susan went down and managed to get us a double espresso with a little steamed milk and that got the heart going.

Our plan was to be at Termini station to meet our friend Marilyn at 6:30 am and go together to the Vatican. Marilyn was early and we were late because we had to go back to the room for the tickets. Once together, we made it to the Vatican, albeit with umbrellas in hand, since the rain still persisted. I was afraid that this was not going to be fun and my fears were confirmed later.

Attending the Weekly Papal Audience...a sea of umbrellas
Attending the Weekly Papal Audience…a sea of umbrellas

Seeing the Pope is always special and we sat and waited for 3 hours for that chance and as soon as he was about to get to the high altar were we were seated the rains came again and we were engulfed in a sea of umbrellas, I could hardly see Sue and she was next to me let alone trying to see the Pope, and we had good seats, not a 100 feet away.

Pope Francis speaking at the Papal Audience
Pope Francis speaking at the Papal Audience

The rain subsided for awhile and we got to watch as the Pope gave his address and it was then partially translated into other languages by different priest.  It was difficult to hear, and even more difficult to see with all the umbrellas, but the atmosphere is so exciting that none of us seemed to mind.

Pope Francis likes to get out there and greet the folks!
Pope Francis likes to get out there and greet the folks!

The Holy Father is calming and gracious as was evident after the blessing he went down to the handicapped and shook hands and blessed them. He then made his way back up and walked around greeting newlyweds, dignitaries and others that had the front row seats.

We sat in front of a priest from Pennsylvania with his mom and dad and had a great time with them. We met another priest from Milwaukee and talked to him for almost an hour. Fr Jason is in Rome to study for 2 years. We had given up our seats when the umbrella’s had come up again and went and stood behind the pope. That’s where we met Fr Jason.

I was real proud of Sue today, I was sure she was going to be upset that her seat wasn’t near the Popes and she wouldn’t get to meet him, but she gave up her quest as she saw the multitude of sick and handicapped and knew the Pope would go to them as it should be. No mountains today! It was a thrill just to be there and to get a blessing from the Holy Father and knowing it was also for all of you.  We had planned to meet Marilyn at the Pieta in the Vatican but didn’t re-open until 2 so we search her out to no avail. We would have to reschedule our lunch.

Hopping the subway back to our car.
Hopping the subway back to our car.

The crowds were very heavy and the rains came again so Susan and I went to metro and headed back for the car. We were going to find a rest nearer to our hotel and gave that up because of the weather so we went to the grocery store and pick up a couple of pizzas, which are very good after I doctor them up.

It was already a 10 hour day so even though the sun came out as we ate our pizza we decided to stay in and test the sleeper sofa and watch a movie. The sofa was comfortable and I never made the movie.

We decided to stay at this hotel until we leave and not make the long drive to Offidia and Veterbo. There are so many shrines in the area to see and I am done packing and unpacking the car. This will give us a little rest before we head home Monday and back to a crazy work week starting Tuesday.

Have a Great

 God Bless
 Susan and Tom

Holy Mary,
help those in need, give strength to the weak, comfort the sorrowful, pray for God’s people, assist the clergy,
>> intercede for religious.
>> Mary all who seek your help
>> experience your unfailing protection.
>> Amen.

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 22

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Buona Sera:

We were so relaxed we stayed up to after midnight….are we nuts! We slept well and we were still awake by 7:30…can’t miss breakfast and that was a good thing, they had fried eggs, bacon and other goodies we haven’t seen too often. Susan had 2 helpings, it was good to see her eating again.

Today’s plan was to visit two shrines not far from here, about 1 ¼ hours drive to the first and 30 minutes to the second. Susan had no idea we were headed back to the mountains and she was not a happy camper on the first leg, wait ’till she sees the next one. I hope the sleeper sofa is comfortable!

Entrance to the city of Genazzaro
Entrance to the city of Genazzaro..it was quite a drive up here, but well worthwhile.

Our first stop was Genazzano and we arrived easily and we parked right in front of the gate to this very old walled city. As we made our way up and up and up to the shrine we couldn’t help but laugh as there was parking everywhere, even in front of this Shrine to Our Lady.

The image of Our Lady of Good Counsel
The image of Our Lady of Good Counsel

The church was beautiful but paled in comparison to the fresco of the Mother and Son that has a wonderful unique history. Sorry…..you have to read the story.

The image of Our Lady of Good Counsel
The image of Our Lady of Good Counsel

We spent most of our time in front of this beautiful, miraculous picture that came from heaven. We prayed there for the indulgences and also said our rosary in front of the shrine for your intentions. We didn’t want to leave but the 12 noon lunch hour was approaching and we wanted to leave with dignity instead of getting thrown out. LOL

We made our way back to the car and we were glad we parked below. This town is so old and each corner produced a new insight as to the way  of life here in pagan times. We drove away feeling very uplifted and made our way to the next shrine. As we rounded a corner Susan saw this structure about 2 miles up at the top of the mountain and just looked at me in disbelief. You have got to be kidding she said and I think that was when the sleeper sofa came into play. This road up had it’s own attributes compared to others, the main was the fact that there was an S-turn every couple hundred feet. It was marvelous except for the girls. The views were indescribable and I hoped Susan had the camera on as she bravely attempted to take pictures. A couple of times I stopped the car and took a couple myself not wanting you to miss the vistas. When we arrived at the shrine Susan was busy looking in her purse and I asked what she needed and she said her sunglasses and I started laughing and told her she had them on. LOL.

The sad part of this story was that we hadn’t arrived at the main shrine we were going to visit. We meant to go to Mentorello and we ended up in Montrello, which is very close to Mentorello but was meant to be a stop on our journey. Apparently it was and Our Blessed Mother laughed the whole time knowing we ended at the Mont instead of the Ment. You think you are confused! When we get back we have even a better story but to tell, so you will have to wait and it’s LOL.

We walked the city going up and up again and finally ended up in this beautiful church. It was again very old and full of treasures to enjoy and we thought we were in the Ment. There were many relics and beautiful paintings from Michelangelo (we think, or they could have been from Montoangelo) and we were alone in the presence of Jesus and we didn’t care because this was a place that people would never see, except for all of you. This was a church dedicated to Mary Magdellana.

We went back to the car and stopped at the pizzeria that was open and before sitting down asked if we could get pizza and once again we were told NO, only at night. DUH As we left the rains started and we saw the sign to get to the Ment., where we wanted to go. The rain had started and the road wasn’t appealling, so we decided to head back.

The village was...you guessed it....at the top of a long and winding road.
The village was…you guessed it….at the top of a long and winding road.

As we went down the mountain another way we saw the Ment and almost turned around. It was spectacular and only 10 miles away, up and up and Susan was going to have none of that. We were Ment to leave. We looked for a pizza joint along the way but we ended back at the hotel before we found one, so we went to the supermarket and bought our own as well as other goodies to stuff our refrigerator for the next few days.

Back at the hotel we cooked the pizza as well as enjoyed a bottle of wine as we answered e-mails and typed this report. the only problem was that we didn’t get 2. Tomorrow in Rome we will have pizza at our favorite place near the Piazza Navona. Eat your hearts out.

Tomorrow begins the unknown part of this trip. We have no set plans except to go to Rome tomorrow and get our tickets for the Papal Audience on Wed. We hope for a chance to meet the Holy Father and Susan has been sending him Notes on Twitter and now Facebook even describing the clothes we will wear. May be he will take us to the Ment in his helicopter. If not we will try and go back before we leave and Susan’s nerve returns.

Have a great day

God Bless

Susan and Tom

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 23 Rome

Buena Sera
Another late night for me, I was mesmerized by the TV since I could get English channels and watched 2 movies until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I paid for it today as I almost fell asleep eating my egg. After 3 regular strong coffees I was ready. We planned to leave for Rome today around noon giving us time to walk around and be able to get to the North American College to pick up our tickets for tomorrows Papal Audience at 3:00 (I like that place, everyone speaks English).

Bought the tickets and we are off on today's excellent adventure.
Bought the tickets and we are off on today’s excellent adventure.

It had stormed hard this morning as I watched another movie while working on the computer and just before we had to leave it stopped and the sun came out. We drove to another city about 12 miles from here to catch the metro at it’s origination point in Laurentina.  We drove in and parked right in front and bought our tickets and were on our way.

The subway is pretty much like subways everywhere. Not too crowded the farther out you are.
The subway is pretty much like subways everywhere. Not too crowded the farther out you are.

The subway here is like anywhere else when you get close to the center of Rome, a lot of pushing and shoving and swearing. We had to change lines and even in all the commotion we looked like pros. Sue was very calm, not like the last time we were here. I figured she thought it was better than the mountains and enjoyed the trip.

Our plan worked perfectly and we arrived at the college at 2:50 and had a nice conversation with another couple waiting for tickets.  When we left we started back for the subway and looked for a reasonably priced restaurant. We were not leaving until we had some calamari and pizza.

The Trevi Fountain is one of the most popular....and crowded attractions in Rome
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most popular….and crowded attractions in Rome

One restaurant we stopped at was so expensive I just laughed. A ½ bottle of house wine was 15 Euro, almost as much as the whole meal we had at Maria’s 2 days ago, so we opted out and finally found a beautiful little ma and pa place away from the tourist trap of the Trevi Fountain.

Nice little ma and pa place near trevi fountain
Nice little Ma and Pa place

The calamari was excellent and the pizza was the best we have had. It was still pricey but you are in Rome and it was worth it.

Full and content we headed for the metro and got on the train for the ride back which took less than a ½ hour and no aggravation of driving the city and parking. Tomorrow morning we leave our hotel at 5:45 to repeat the process. At 6:30 we will meet Marilyn Olson on the platform at the Termini station where we change lines to get to the Vatican. We were told to get there around 7:00 for the best seats, we had done this before and I swore I would never do it again, but it’s Papa Francesco, and the sofa bed is not all that comfortable.

EWTN does air the Papal Audience, 4:00 am Florida time, and I’m sure you will all be up to watch as they drag Susan away as she tries to jump the barricade to get to the Pope if he doesn’t come over and say hello.

Sue let Pope Francis know we were coming!
Sue let Pope Francis know we were coming!

She sent him a couple more Facebook posts and tweets, just so he knows where we are sitting and what we will be wearing. LOL LOL.  Whomever reads his mail must be roaring by now with laughter from these messages she has sent. They probably have her photo in the hands of all the security people. If you don’t get a trip report tomorrow just check the 6:00 PM news. I may have to take her for a mountain trip if things don’t work out to get her mind off of it.

The greatest thing about these audiences are the blessing he give when it ends. When he imparts this blessing on us it also imparted onto those we love and pray for and for their special intention as if you where all there with us, also whatever religious objects you have with you are blessed. Pretty neat, so tomorrow all of you will get a papal blessing for yourselves and your intentions and I am sure we will read all the intentions we carry as we wait. After, we will have lunch somewhere that has room since the sisters at the college told us that there were at least 60,000 ticketed people will be there.

It’s time for bed, 5 Am comes early; Wish me luck.
Good night and God Bless,  

Susan and Tom

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 20 Oliveto Citra Italy

Oliveto Citra as we approach the town
Oliveto Citra as we approach the town

We had breakfast, mostly coffee after last nights late dinner, and met Carmine at the foundation a little after 9.  I got lost driving since most streets are one way and the 1 minute drive turned into 15, but we made it.

We went to the foundation to meet with Anna, who runs the foundation and we spent almost two hours there looking at the photos and testimonies of many people and listening.  The photos were actual pictures of the Blessed Virgin and Son as they had appeared, although not as clear as actually seeing Them.

Watching a video in Oliveto Citra
Watching a video in Oliveto Citra

We watched a DVD of the miracles of the sun and the red cloud that was seen by all within 6 miles, as well as testimonies from the parish priest and others who were touched by these events.  Carmine and Anna then told the whole story as it first happened in 1985.

Anna’s two children were both part of the twelve that saw her.  It was incredible. We also heard of the latest apparitions and miracles that have happened here, all as we stood looking at the shrine of Our Lady of the Castle.

Carmine gave us a great history of the castle, that goes back many centuries.
Carmine gave us a great history of the castle, that goes back many centuries.

Carmine then gave us a tour of the former castle and the museum and we learned of the history dating 1000 years before Christ.  The valley is rich in history which includes ancient stories of Spartacus and Hannibal, as well as some Greek influence.

At one point he stopped and paced then went to his knees told us that this was the spot were he  saw the Blessed Mother the second time, when there were only 4 of them.  Susan asked where she was standing and he said where Tom is standing and I almost jumped out of my shoes and moved to the side.

This was all very special just as much as the next hour we spent at the site of the first apparition where we went at noon to pray the Angelus, which is part of the whole days events.  It started to rain and I got our 2 umbrellas from the car and we went to the site of the first apparition just past the gate, which Anna opened. 

Our group grew as we stayed and prayed the rosary and heard everyone's testimonies
Our group grew as we stayed and prayed the rosary and heard everyone’s testimonies. It is awe-inspiring to hear the stories as to how people came to be here.

As we stood there and were beginning to pray other pilgrims joined us and before we knew it there were 12 of us, all in deep prayer.  We each took turns to say a prayer or give testimony of the reason we were there.  Carmine translated and we were in awe at what we heard.  After each testimony of faith or a miracle we prayed holding hands and finished with the Angelus.  It was beautiful and peaceful and we all felt such a close bond to each other as we all departed. 

Carmine was off to a wedding and we told Anna that we would be back at 3 for the rosary (if it’s raining they usually forgo the rest of the day and the procession).

The rain moved in and we could not even see the nearby buildings.
The rain moved in and we could not even see the nearby buildings.

We went back to our hotel and watched the rain come down so hard and the clouds move in so at times we couldn’t even see in front of the hotel let alone the castle.  So here we sit hopping for a break in the weather to continue our pilgrimage and as Susan so eloquently said during the prayer service that we come here to pray for those whose intentions we have carried with us.

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 19 Arrival in Oliveto Citra

Bueno…..whatever;

Today was a strange day, although a good strange.  We checked out of the smelly Roses Hotel(it wasn’t that bad) around 10:30 and headed for that treacherous journey back to a highway. The worst part of the day was the shower, I have been in small ones before but this one was tough, I could lift my arms to wash my hair and  I just dropped soap on the rest of me because I could hardly move. (I’ll shower again later) 

The drive wasn’t as bad as coming in, maybe it was the time of day and people weren’t in such a hurry to get home.  The traffic was lighter and the people more friendly—-probably all terrified tourists—-anyway with Sue in the trunk and the 2 GPS’s off I enjoyed the beautiful drive.

Susan managed to take 20 pictures with the camera off and I’m sure we will have to trash that many more.  My poor baby was still terrified and those 9 miles seemed like an eternity for her. Eventually we reached the highway which was all new and 4 lanes and no traffic and I didn’t even speed, we just enjoyed the scenery as we went.  

We arrived in Oliveto Citra at about 11:45 and checked into our new hotel.  This was new, pack and unpack within an hour and a half and we didn’t care because we had to catch up with business and reorganize our clothes.  Before we knew it, it was after 2 and I called our new friends that we hadn’t met so we could get together.  We planned to meet in the square in front of the church, before mass, and the gate to the old castle, where the apparitions of Our Blessed Mother happen usually on the first Saturday of the month, that’s tomorrow and our contact here is one of the first seers to have the visions. 

Oliveto Citra, Italy
View of Oliveto Citra

From our balcony we have a direct view of the castle and the church.  We are meeting Carmine and probably Raffaele tonight who Susan had contacted prior to our trip and he has set everything in motion for us to learn all about Our Lady Queen of the Castle. 

We tried to power nap before going out and that really didn’t work but we were excited and refreshed anyway.  We decided to drive to the square, which was only 1500 ft away, because it was very cold, and it was a good thing that we did.  After trying to park in 3 different spots we just left the car in a large area and made our way to the square in search of Carmine.  He was hard to spot; we weren’t, because of the big T on our forehead.  He was very young and very nice and being from Chicago his English was very good although he has not been here for over 25 years.  Carmine was one of the first seers as well as his twin brother Dino, who is back in Chicago.

The first thing we did was to go and meet Raffaele, from the foundation, at his office.  He recognized Susan and jumped from his chair to greet her and finally said hello to me….LOL.  He is a wonderful and humble man and unfortunately he had to work and we headed out to meet Anna, who is the mom of two of the other visionaries, there were 14 in total that first night and two of them did not experience anything.  When I called Carmine earlier we had planned to go to the 6 pm mass at the parish church…..which was in the process of being painted…..so he took us and Anna in our car and we drove down the hill to the church of St. Francis which was very appropriate for the feast day of St. Francis. 

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 18: Three Marian Shrines in one day

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Buona sera (although we will probably not send this out until the morning, “our time”:

Well, I fell asleep in about 2 seconds after finishing your Trip Report last night … I think it was about 8:30 P.M. … I was beat.  Susan stayed up to watch TV (or rather, try to understand the Italian news) … she said she stayed up late … until about 9:30 P.M. … I know she is feeling better when she stays up later than I do.

Breakfast...no omlettes today but still good.
Breakfast…no omlettes today but still good. Sue feeling better at last!

We had breakfast downstairs this morning … again in our PJ’s.  We were the only ones in the Dining Room so it felt like home (although a much bigger dining room).  No omelettes today so we were a bit disappointed but we had our two cappuccinos … took the second one up to the room while we packed and then we headed out for what we knew would be a long day with a lot of driving and a lot to see … but neither of us knew what was in store for us.  As I always say … Our Blessed Mother always loves to appear in very remote places … and she has a great sense of humor while laughing as one tries to locate some of her Shrines.

Driving to our destination...one of three shrines we hope to visit today.
Driving to our destination…one of three shrines we hope to visit today.

As we drove away from San Giovanni Rotundo to travel to our first Shrine of the day … Basilica of Madre di dio Incoronata – “The Crowned Mother of God” in Foggia, Italy, we experienced beautiful and peaceful views of the Adriatic Sea.  I loved the beauty, all the time knowing that we would be spending our next night on the Mediterranean Sea on the other side of Italy and on the Amalfi Coast tonight.

The first part of the day turned out to be the easiest..good signage, decent roads and good weather.
The first part of the day turned out to be the easiest..good signage, decent roads and good weather.

Our first stop was a breeze to reach.  Good roads, good signage, no mountains (much to Susan’s delight).  We arrived at the Sanctuary of Our Lady, Crowned Mother of God in plenty of time for Mass.  Today was a day we planned to dedicate to Shrines of Our Blessed Mother.  This was the first of three Madonna Shrines we planned to see today … and it was, by far, the easiest to reach (see the rest of our day!)

The Shrine, itself, was simple yet eloquent.  We didn’t have much information on the Shrine other than what you will read below.  We hope to have time in the future to try to find out more history on this wonderful Shrine.  We do have to say that they had a wonderful “tribute” to Blessed John Paul II with photos and memorabilia of his visit there.  We are anxious to send a couple of photos we saw of Cardinal Stanislaus from Krakow … Blessed John Paul II’s best friend and secretary … because we believe it to be him many years ago when he accompanied BJP II to this Shrine.

We stopped to pray before the icon, the main attraction here at this little-known shrine
We stopped to pray before the icon, the main attraction here at this little-known shrine

Before Mass began, we visited the area where the Icon of Our Blessed Mother and Child are on display for the faithful.  On our way there, we passed through the Sacred Room containing the Consecrated  Holy Oil where you can anoint yourself  for physical and spiritual healing.  (Read story below)  Thank goodness both of us didn’t have to anoint our entire bodies with as sick as we have been until recently … only our foreheads, lips, chest and hearts.

We then went back down to attend Mass which was beautiful.  Although in Italian, they had guitar music and a wonderful Offertory Procession which was very well orchestrated.  

After Mass was over, we explored the remaining areas of the Shrine before departing to our next destination.  We were led to the Site of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and we knelt and Prayed there for the Plenary Indulgence (after completing the requirements) and for your Special Intentions we always carry with us.

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 17 St Michael’s Cave

Buena Sera:

As I lay on “my bed” in total exhaustion, my wonderful wife is typing this (in total exhaustion). LOL. What an incredible day we had today. And, other than almost falling asleep as we finished our Daily Rosary at the Tomb of St. Padre Pio late this afternoon (we started our day at the Cave of St. Michael the Archangel this A.M. where we Prayed two decades before Mass began), we feel great and elated after having had such a wonderful and spiritual day.

After our breakfast (which include an omelette today … yeah!), we headed out toward Mount St. Michel and the Cave. The 40 minute ride was incredible. I actually almost began to “like” (not “love”) this car as it handled the roads and the curves and s-turns beautifully. I’m sure tomorrow when I begin to put all of our luggage back in the car and begin driving, I will once again be “unsure” about my feelings for our car this year … LOL.

As you view the Church built over St. Michael's Cave you can't fully appreciate what lies below.
As you view the Church built over St. Michael’s Cave you can’t fully appreciate what lies below.

Monte Sant’Angelo is hard to describe in words. The setting, the town and the Cave are all breathtaking. We parked in the only parking lot one can park and they can “get you” for a few Euro for parking. We made our way down and down and down through this very lovely and very old town to the Sanctuary Cave.

Walking down the steps to St. Michael's Cave, where so many Saints and Popes have gone before.
Walking down the steps to St. Michael’s Cave, where so many Saints and Popes have gone before.

As you enter this ancient structure to get down to the Cave of St. Michael the Archangel, you walk down and down and down even more. It is worth every step you take as you realize, once again, how many Popes, Saints and people have made this pilgrimage over the centuries.

The Sacred Cave is beyond words.  We explored every inch and touch everything in sight, not know whose hands might have passed over the stones and cavern walls before us. We went into the Adoration Chapel to begin our Daily Rosary there while waiting for the 11:00 A.M. Mass to begin in the Cave. We left Adoration feeling guilty because there were only four chairs in the Adoration Chapel and we didn’t realize that people had been waiting outside to pay homage to our Savior.

Mass here in St. Michael's Cave...just cannot describe the feeling.
Mass here in St. Michael’s Cave…just cannot describe the feeling.

We sat directly in front of the Altar as we waited for Mass to begin. A very, very young Priest celebrated the Mass. Just watching him and Praying with him during Mass was very moving as one could feel his reverence and humbleness/piousness and his love for God and the Eucharist.

After Mass, we found the location of where St. Michael the Archangel first appeared to the Bishop. We knelt and offered up your Special Intentions, through St. Michael, to Our Lady … our Mother in Heaven.

To be in this special, holy place is beyond words
To be in this special, holy place is beyond words

I asked a Priest where the cross of St Francis was that he embedded into a rock at the cave’s entrance.(he felt unworthy to enter) and it was right behind me, I knelt and asked him to give me some of his humility. It was almost Noon and we knew that if we didn’t leave the Sacred Cave, we would be thrown out once again from another Shrine (closing time … siesta). So we made our way to the exit of the Cavern.

Yet, we stopped in the Religious Store and bought our little momento for our home “shrine”. We are still Praying for the woman in the Religious Store that waited on us because it was obvious she really didn’t like her job … a nice way of saying she was “not nice”. As we made our way back to the car, we stopped at one of the local stands that have all of the medals, statues and momentos one could want. The prices were a third (or less) than in the Religious Store at the Cave, and the attitude of the locals was overwhelmingly grateful and friendly … we have always felt that we wish to support the Religious Stores directly related to the Shrines we visit as yet just another way of making another donation to support the Shrines and their survival.

We spent a little time walking around this small town. But, I have to tell you, IT WAS COLD … NASTY COLD … as the mountain winds tore around us. It may have been 70 degrees out, but it felt like somewhere around 40 degree as the winds ripped through us. We decided to head back to San Giovanni Rotundo, get some lunch and re-visit San Giovanni and St. Padre Pio. We stopped back at our hotel to “refresh” (actually to brush our teeth for the second time today because both of us noticed that the “aroma” was not pleasant … it must have been the omelette this morning).

A stop for lunch after leaving St. Michael's Cave
A stop for lunch after leaving St. Michael’s Cave

We walked down from our hotel and found a quaint little local restaurant to have a bite for lunch (no late night dinners anymore for this journey). We sat in an empty restaurant with no lights on (only a television). We ordered two different bowls of pasta that were outstanding. I had fresh tuna in mine and Susan had Italian Sausage in hers. I only stabbed her once as I tried to steal some of her pasta. She, on the other hand, was very sneaky with her fork as she sneaked portions of my pasta in to her bowl.

The confessional used by Saint Padre Pio.  He spent hours here...and if you forgot something, well...he could read your soul and remind you!
The confessional used by Saint Padre Pio. He spent hours here…and if you forgot something, well…he could read your soul and remind you!

We walked back up the hill to our hotel and our car (not easy on a full stomach) and headed back to the Shrine of St. Padre Pio. This afternoon, we did the full tour of places we were not able to visit yesterday and, although cold, the mist we experienced yesterday was no where to be found. We visited the old Chapel where Padre Pio used to celebrate his Masses … his Confessional (shown here)….the cell where he lived and died…his memorabilia … and his original Tomb.

We both feel like we pretty much experienced this history of his entire life. If you have read the stories, you will understand how wonderful it was to be here (we recommend a visit to this Shrine to everyone). He is a Saint of “Our Times”. We then returned to the Church where St. Pio’s body is on display to finish the rest of our Rosary and to present some old and new Special Intentions we have received from you (yes, Father John M. … we delivered yours).

I really don’t know how we are right now physically with our colds (which seem to be subsiding … finally), but mentally and spiritually, our health and well-being are “great”! I really want to say something … when Susan and I are on this “personal pilgrimages”, we Pray fervently for you and for the Special Intentions you have asked us to deliver for you. And, yet, we know that our Prayers and your Prayers for Intentions may not at all be what God has planned for any of us. So, we always Pray and then, trusting in Him in all things, we just leave things in “His Hands” through Our Blessed Mother and her Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Please don’t ever stop Praying because if you continue to Trust in Him, you will see and learn that he has “His Plan” for you and for your loved ones.

We are now back at our hotel room checking emails, packing up, preparing “Princess GPS” for tomorrows travels and preparing this Trip Report. We have received several new Special Intentions from you the passed few days and, even if we don’t respond to you immediately, your Intentions are placed on our extensive list each evening and they are presented on your behalf as we move on to the next Shrines.

Right now, I am going to open a nice bottle of wine and have it along with some great Italian Salami & Cheese (Extra Virgin Olive Oil … Spicy Mustard, etc.) we brought yesterday and we’ll have a light snack before retiring for the evening. We will leave here in the A.M. for our next stops … Our Lady of the Crowned Mother of God and a couple of other Shrines I am sure will thrill you tomorrow (not, Susan … when you see the photos of the mountains I will be driving tomorrow … shhhh … don’t tell her or I won’t get her in the car tomorrow morning).

God Bless all of you … Susan & Tom

For more information about Saint Michael’s Cave click here.

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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 16 Manoppello & San Giovanni Rotondo

Buena Sera

After another glorious 12 hours sleep we awoke still sick but feeling better.. The hacking and sneezing had subsided. I call the insurance carrier we have for the trip and told them to find us a doctor in San Giovanni Rotondo and e-mail it to us. They e-mailed a hospital and I said to Sue what the heck they are paying unless I didn’t read all the fine print. After breakfast alone in the massive dining room of the hotel we set out for Manoppello and the cloth of Veronica from the passion of Christ as He carried his Cross.( I have to explain some of these things for our non-catholic friends).

We made it good time and were rewarded with parking right in front of the church. This is a very quiet and low key town but has a great treasure with the confines of the church. Some disagree that this is the true veil that Veronica used to wipe Jesus’s face as He carried his cross and we are allowed to believe or not believe as we feel what ever may or may not inspire us.

The Holy Face on what is reported to be Veronica's Veil in Manoppello.  What an incredible image.
The Holy Face on what is reported to be Veronica’s Veil in Manoppello. What an incredible image.

Just stand there and relive the passion and that cloth becomes the face of Christ. Inverted over the Shroud of Turin, which was the burial cloth of Jesus, the face folds in perfectly and the fabric is of the early times before and around the time of Christ. It is always a solemn moment whenever you are so close to a miracle of Jesus whether approved or not your heart will tell you what to believe as did ours.

We drove through the clouds on our way to visit the Shrine of Padre Pio at San Giovani Rotondo
We drove through the clouds on our way to visit the Shrine of Padre Pio at San Giovani Rotondo

Having spent precious time at the veil and having prayed for the intentions we carry we stopped in the gift store and purchased some more mementos. I know we won’t have room in our curio cabinet for all the things we have bought and we still 2 weeks to go. We left for San Giovanni Rotondo and the home to St. Pio and traveled through light rain and sun and a beautiful sky full of heavy clouds that clung to the mountain tops. 

We arrived at the hotel and put our stuff in the room and headed for the shrine to this modern day famous Saint, whose partial story is below. It was very cold and we had to park well below the shrine and after much thought we made our way up. This was the most unexplainable weather I have ever seen. The sun was out and yet the wind from the mountain showered us with a heavy mist as we tried to hold onto our umbrella’s and make our way. I took a photo of a rainbow that wasn’t in the sky but in front of us backing up to a hill and maybe only 100 yd’s. away. It was awesome as is the new Bacilica they have built.

The incorrupt body of Saint Padre Pio...a man who lived during our lifetimes.
The incorrupt body of Saint Padre Pio…a man who lived during our lifetimes.

In the basement of the Basilica is where the incorrupt body of St. Pio lies and the room is a very spiritual place until a bus load of people walk thru snapping photos and talking fortunately most were very reverent and visibly excited to get close to the Saint. We said our rosary here and it was beautiful as every once and a while we would peer at St.Pio. He had a definite affection for Our Lady and he was a full believer and supporter in Garabandal, Spain where our new lives began.

We walked out of the Basilica backwards, not literally, just that most all people were coming in that way and following a path. Who cares it was beautiful and we had to kind of hurry to make mass at the Chiara Santa Maria delle Grazie where St.Pio said most of his mass and heard confessions. The mass was in the church were he celebrated mass from 1959 to his last years and we didn’t make to the old section since our parking pass was about to expire and I know they lay in wait to give out tickets even if you were only 1 minutes late.

Mass in the old church where Padre Pio once lived
Mass in the old church where Padre Pio once lived

We wouldn’t have had to rush except for the sermon the priest gave which rivals any we have at the cathedral, and not to mention we were also having a wedding ceremony to boot. Mass ended and Susan and I bolted for the door laughing afterwards that we looked like the early birds from the 4:30 mass on Saturdays.

Another long day.  Tonight we opted for room service...looks delizioso!
Another long day. Tonight we opted for room service…looks delizioso!

We plan to come back tomorrow after our visit to Grotto of St. Michael’s Cave.  Back at the hotel with the heat on and sipping a glass of wine as we wait for room service to be delivered. A little fettuccini with seafood and veal medallions with fresh veggies. I let you know tomorrow how it was.

God Bless Susan and Tom

For more information about Manoppello & Veronica’s Veil click here.

For more information about Padre Pio’s Shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo click here

 

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