We just heard from our travel agent yesterday that our Schengen Visa has been issued by the French Embassy. Yehey, our European dream is finally unfolding. I will be going together with hubby, my mother and my sister.
Several times, my mother has mentioned how she wanted us to visit Europe (again) – special mention “Lourdes, France” for she is a devout of Our Lady of Lourdes. Every time she does, I always brush her off, reasoning the trip will be very expensive. When my mom’s cancer recurrence (sort of) was discovered early June of this year, she stood her ground and emphatically told me it’s time to take that long and much desired trip to Europe.
Since time was against us, thinking her cancer “recurrence” might soon prevent her to travel far, I frantically searched the internet for any Marian Pilgrimage scheduled within the year. Luckily, I found a newspaper article about Boots Anson-Roa making known her intention to join the Marian Pilgrimage on October 17-31, 2009. Ephesus Travel and Tours, whose owner is a close friend of Ms. Anson-Roa will be organizing the trip.
My (doctor)sister felt October was too long a wait and maybe mother’s illness will not allow her, suggesting we join the same trip in September this year. Unfortunately, that group was already full, so my mom decided we join the one in October. Since we paid our deposit in June 2009, our intended trip has been constantly included in our prayers. Thank God, my mom’s “recurrence” was subsequently “reversed” (you could say) and she’s doing well in her monthly check-ups. Add to that “the whole universe conspiring” just so we could make this dream come true. The rest, they say, is history.
Our itinerary for the pilgrimage is:
Arrive in Fiumicino airport & meet our representative, who will assist us on all airport formalities. Have our orientation tour of Rome as we drive to Saint Peter Basilica for our Thanksgiving Mass. Tour around to see the Colosseum known for its gladiators combats, the Roman Forum, the amazing Trevi Fountain, Via Veneto and Piazza Venezia, the Pantheon and the Spanish steps. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
S. Giovanni Rotondo
After Mass this morning, prepare for our long drive to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit the tomb of St. Pio. In the afternoon, we devote ourselves for prayers as we visit St. Pio’s shrine and view his incorrupt body. Have our Thanksgiving, private mass at the Santa Maria delle Grazie Convent.
Private devotions to St. Pio. Scheduled private Mass.
Mass and private devotions.
After Mass and breakfast. Depart San Giovanni for Lanciano and visit Sanctuario di Legonziano to witness the 1° miracle of turning host into flesh and wine into blood. Continue to Assisi and visit St Francis Basilica to see the tomb of beloved Saint. Dinner and overnight.
Early morning visit and mass at St. Claire where the incorrupt body of St. Claire is laid to rest. Drive to Rome for flight to Barcelona.
After breakfast, start half day tour within Barcelona with our visit to Sagrada Familia including its Cathedral and cloister. In the afternoon, proceed to Monserrat to visit the Royal Basilica that houses the famous Black Virgin “Virgin Morenata” back to Barcelona for dinner and overnight.
Depart for Fatima. Reach one of the world’s major pilgrimage Centers. Dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, we visit the Shrine & Basilica of our Lady & celebrate our mass at the Chapel of Apparitions. On to the house of Francisco & Jacinta, two of the 3 shepherd children where our Lady appeared & gave her word of peace. In the afternoon, we can join the candlelight procession, and the rest of the day is free for private devotions.
Fatima for Lourdes via flight to Lisbon. Arrive in the evening in time for Rosary Procession every evening.
The whole day is scheduled for private devotions beginning with our celebration of our holy mass at the Monastery of visitation. The sanctuaries & pools are always open and religious ceremonies are held everyday. Masses, Blessing of the Sick, Stations of the Cross & Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Torch RosaryProcession every evening. Dinner & overnight.
Depart Lourdes. Today we visit the Convent Saint of Gildard in Nevers. See Bernadette’s tomb and at the museum to see the Incorrupt Body of St. Bernadette. After, we drive to Lisieux, home of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Visit “ Les Buisonets “; St. Therese & its crypt. Rest of the day for private devotion. Dinner & overnight.
Depart Lisieux for Paris passing through Chartres. Upon arrival in the City of Romance, we visit – Notre Dame – Ste. Chapelle- Eglise de la Madeleine- Sacre Coueur. Overnight & Dinner.
Begin the day with our visit to the Louvre museum, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees. Have our Final Thanksgiving. Departure Mass at the Chapel our Lady of Miraculous Medal. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for return flight to Manila.
Same Day Arrival in Manila. Home sweet home!
Now, as I am making this entry, I still cannot believe I will soon be living my dream. Though I have been to Rome a few days when I was around 7-8 years old, my family only spent it around the Vatican and I couldn’t remember anything. This spiritual trip will be the realization of my Catholic dream. I’m so excited! My husband is also thrilled that we will be spending three days in S. Giovanni Rotondo, the place of St. (Padre) Pio, his favorite saint. Me? I’m looking forward to everything in the itinerary.
I am now taking a mental note of my prayer list. Yes, I’m going to earnestly soak myself in prayer in this trip. In fact, my prayer list is growing already – prayers for my mom, my sister and my brother (who will not be joining us), my nephews and nieces, prayers for the rest of the family, prayers for my friends…I’ll even pray for my country and world peace.
Hay, I can’t wait for October to come.
While waiting, I will continually pray that the Lord bless us and keep us all safe and healthy until we make this trip.