Saturday, 18 October 2008

Pilgrimage of Love - 100 European and Holy Land Shrines

The picture below shows His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI praying in the House of Loreto before the statue of Our Lady.

I am going to present today vintage itinerary of the Pilgrimage to celebrate the
Holy Year 1950 and described by Carmelite tertiary, Br John of the Cross TOCD (Dr HR Casolary) in 1950. This is the year of my birth, therefore has a special meaning to me. It may also give us a glimpse of heaven while visiting a long list of shrines in Europe and the Holy Land.

Having boarded a plane, I flew to Lisbon, Portugal, primarily to see Fatima. Upon arrival, the airport was overshadowed by a dense fog which interered with the proper visibility for landing. For the first time in the pilot's experience of 16 years had this happened. While stalling for the necessary visibility, the pilot took us for a 3-hour sigh-seeing tour over the vicinity of Fatima. Wasn't that a grand thrill of the soul to be able to look upon Fatima by air somewhat as our Blessed Lady had done in 1917, witnessed by some 70 000 spectators! After two unsuccessful attempt, the captain landed the plane at the airport in Lisbon.

FATIMA - One of its most beautiful scenes is the small Chapel (Capela) built over the spot where the primary apparition took place at Cova da Iria, overshadowed by clear white clouds and a celestial blue sky. The original statue of Our lady of Fatima is enshrined in the Chapel.

Fatima is connected with Carmelites - one of the visionaries, Lucia, entered Discalced Carmelite Convent in Coimbra in 1947 as transfer from Dorothean order in Spain.

Lucia died on February 13, 2005, at the age of 97. After her death, the Vatican, specifically Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (at that time, still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) ordered her cell sealed off. It is believed this was because Sister Lúcia had continued to receive more revelations, and the evidence needed to be examined in the course of proceedings for Lúcia's canonization.
In 1941, Lúcia claimed that the Virgin Mary had predicted the deaths of two of the children during the second apparition on June 13, 1917. Some accounts, including the testimony of Olímpia Marto (mother of the two younger children) state that her children did not keep this information secret and ecstatically predicted their own deaths many times to her and to curious pilgrims. According to the 1941 account, on June 13, Lúcia asked the Virgin if the three children would go to heaven when they died. She heard Mary reply, "Yes, I shall take Francisco and Jacinta soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart. Jacinta, in fact, accurately foretold the time and detailed circumstances of her death, according to Lúcia and hospital staff. Exhumed in 1935 and again in 1951, Jacinta's body was found incorrupt Francisco's had decomposed. More readings and info: Three secrets of Fatima and Fatima opposition
Fatima - full story from EWTN

COIMBRA - Lucy, a Discalced Carmelite Nun, and one of three children who witnessed apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, was living in the cloister of the Carmelite Monastery of Santa Teresa and died there in 2005. Her remains were transferred to Fatima in February 2006. In 1950, Br John claim he was able to hear Sr Lucia singing the Litany with other nuns while praying for their benefactors. In the Chapel of the cloister is a masterfully sculptured statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which was designed according to Lucy's description of her vision, as keenly as human artistry will permit. Its pure whitness and scarlet heart lifts one's soul to the glories of God for having given us so beautiful a mother in all virtues. Also seen is the sculpture of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus extending Holy Communion to the three children. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and First Saturday devotion was the fruit of the Fatima Apparitions and Sr Lucy spent her life to propagate this devotion on the request of Our Lady.


Here lie the incorruptible remains of the great St Teresa of Jesus, who restored the Carmelite Order to its Primitive Rule and founded the new branch - the Discalced Carmelites - while attaining the highest degree of mystical life.

Her heart was miraculously inflamed with divine love after having been pierced by the arrow of an angel.

The aperture, the size of a goose quill, can still be seen clear through it. Many other reliques are preserved there, such as her arm, finger, cincture, rosary, cross, disciplinary, and blood stains.

Her still incorupt body is enshrined in the High Altar of the Convent Church. St Teresa was awarded a jeweled crown (valued at three million pesetas in 1950), for her doctrines on Mystical Theology by the University of Salamanca. The crown is placed on her statue during her feast day procession.

The reconstructed cell of St Teresa can be seen in the convent.


At St Joseph's Monastery, which was St Teresa's first foundation, on St Joseph's Day, was held a profession of the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites. Also attended a Military Mass at St Teresa'a Church if Avila where a band played during parts of the mass and a horn was blown during the Consecration and Elevation.


St John of the Cross, the outstanding Doctor of the Mystical Theology of the Universal Church, the co-reformer of the Carmelite Order with St Teresa, has his torso enshrined in the second most beautiful sepulchre in the world, in the Church bearing his name which he built himself.

Enshrined there are also reliques of his tibia, and two thorns from the crown of thorns.

I saw the cave where St John prayed in ecstasies and would plead not to disturb while in prayer with his God. There on the hilltop are most beautiful natural caves overlooking a clear stream of spring water of spring water, echoed by beautiful melodies from winged creatures of divers colours rendering befitting homage to our Saint.

We now move to France to visit Lisieux and Carmelite Monastery where St Therese spent her religious life.


Entrance to Discalced Carmelites convent Chapel in Lisieux

One of heaven's most beautiful little flowers is there enshrined in a golden glassed sepulchre surrounded by beautiful natural roses and other flowers. Her lovely golden hair of about four feet in length is visible nearby on an easel, together with her Habit and Holy Communion dress (all now on display in museum at St Therese home in Lisieux). Her home, a beautiful mansion (Buissonnets) still contains furnishings of her early life which made a beautiful groundwork to blossom forth the little rose for her Groom.


The pictures consisting the slide show above were taken during first days of the 150th Anniversary of the First Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St Bernardette celebration in Lourdes. The movie starts with vintage Holy Card followed by old photo of the Grotto as seen in St Bernadette times. We can also have a glimpse of the Grotto when it has already became celebrated place of worship. These first photographs are followed by pictures taken during first days of celebration in Lourdes. The photos show the main events of these several days. During the first day, on our arrival we first paid a visit and lit votive candles at the Grotto of Messabielle while listening to International Mass open air celebrated just over the river. The several next pictures show exterior and interior of Immaculate Conception Basilica which top up the Crypt - the first chapel built at Our Lady's request. The building beneath is the Rosary Basilica which has a dome crowned with gold plated crown founded by faithful Irish Catholics from all over the world. In the afternoon of the first day, we participated in the Blessed Sacrament Procession with over 920 priests gathered at Lourdes to pay homage to Our Lady. The procession took place around the main square in front of both Basilicas. The square is adorned with beautiful crowned statue of Our Lady. The first day ended with candle Rosary procession concluded with prayers at the Grotto. The following days were spent visiting places connected with life of St Bernadette where we had an opportunity to collect stickers for Jubilee medal commemorating steps of this meditative journey and needed to fulfill Indulgence conditions generously granted by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. On the way we visited Soubirou's family home, called Boly Mill, where St Bernadette was born, the original baptisery used for her baptism which is now located within the new Parish Church that replaced original one completely destroyed by the fire at the end of XIX century. Interestingly, the front of the old Church with baptismal font was the only part that survived the fire. Next we visited Le Cachot, the desolate former prison cell room measuring a bit over 12 feet square where Bernadette lived with her parents and three other siblings at the time of Apparitions. The loving and very close Soubirou family lived there in utter poverty in despicable conditions after Bernadette's father lost both business and family house, was left half blinded after accident at the mill he run, was falsely accused of stealing some flour and had to spent eight days in prison before being finally declared innocent. He never, however, recovered his good name and was thought a thief when the first Apparition took place. The Jubilee pilgrimage ended with the visit to Hospice run by Sisters of Charity where young Bernadette received her First Communion and lived there since Apparitions ended to avoid ever increasing attention of the public. Important devotion of the following days were prayers at Lourdes spectacular open air Stations of the Cross located on the hill close to the Basilica of Immaculate Conception. The Stations are made of natural size figures and each Station depicts vividly dramatic moments of Our Lord's Passion. The first Station is usually prayed by the faithful on the miniature replica of holy steps transferred originally from Pilate palace and located in Santa Scala Church in Rome.

The waxed remains of St Vincent de Paul are enshrined high above the main altar in the House of Lazarists (Vincentian Fathers).
The Shrine of the Immmmaculate Conception in Paris (Sisters of Charity) is designed with heavenly beauty.

Our Lady extends her rays of graces with celestial radiance. Underneath her main altar to the right is the tomb of St Louse de Marillac, the founder of the order under St Vincent; and to the left is the tomb of St Catherine Laboure to whom Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal appeared.

Next stop will be in SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO FRIARY of Our Lady of Grace in Italy, where another XX century stigmatist, Padre Pio of Petrelcina, lived for years as Capuchin Friar and priest. Padre Pio was canonized in July 2004.

He was the only priest ever known to be favoured with the stigmata. He was known for his exceptional piety in offering Mass, he was actually 'suffering' the Mass daily from five to seven am. Dr Casorali participated in the Mass offered by Padre Pio and says that during the Consecration and Elevation Padre Pio was falling into ecstasy. The hand's wounds were covered with brown bands and only parts of the inner wounds were visible. In the confessional Padre Pio suffered for the sins of the penitent and he knew the forgotten sins needed to confess and repent. He was known to throw out of confessional unrepentant penitents. He was teaching both about God's love and justice, heaven and hell.

In April 2008, after exhumation of Padre Pio's uncorrupted body, the wounds could not be found, according to the Church officials who witnessed examination of the body of the Saint.

Padre Pio's body in glass casket on display in the Church of Santa della Grazia after exhumation from the tomb.


St Francis' remains are in a tomb there at the Basilica of St Francis

which also contains his personal apparel - habit, gray and shabbily worn, and a cloth which still shows the satin from the wound on his side. The Portiuncula, the Cradle of the Franciscan Order, is within the Lady of the Angels Church which also has a chapel over the place where he died and also contains his cord. The Church of the Poor Clares

preserves the Cross which spoke to St Francis asking him to restore his tottering Church;

also the grill where St Francis placed his foot so that

St Clare could be permitted to kiss it.

Her body is there preserved. Also visited the first foundation of St Clare, St Damian, and saw the monstrance which was used to dispel the invading Saracens.


St Catherine is also the great mystic of the Third Order of the Dominicans, who was influential in bringing the Pope back from Avignon to Rome. Her precious head remains in the Dominican Basilica in her honour.

In her home

is preserved her cell which contains her reliques and a stone which she used as a pillow, also paintings of her visions: receiving the Christ Child in her arms and the crown of thorns. I managed to detain a pilgrimage long enough to be able to qualify in numbers so that I might see the Crucifix whose rays rendered the stigmata to St Catherine of Siena, although she prayed that they would not be visible so that no homage would be given her by the public. A favourite painting is that of a vision of a man's soul entering heaven - a man who had been executed, yet had called out her name three times after his head was severed.

Konnersreuth, Germany,

THERESA NEUMANN, the stigmatist who lived in Konnersreuth, Bavaria, had St Therese of the Child Jesus as her patron Saint.

The picture above shows Teresian Cloister in Konnersreuth. One of greatest ecstatic joys of Theresa Neumann's soul was in uniting with the suffering of our Lord.
More details about Theresa Neumann HERE


The eternal city of Christendom and its martyrs! Its heart - the Vatican; its life - the Pope. The Pope grants weekly audience at St Peter's square or inside the Vatican, pending on weather conditions. Amids prayers and cheers of the crowd, the Holy Father traditionally greets the the faithful in many languages including Italian, Spanish, French, German and English and reads the relevant for the day passages from the Holy Scripture adding His comments. At the end of audience the Holy Father usually gives His Papal blessing to all present, their relatives and friends, and those in particular for whom the pilgrim wants it imparted. The pilgrims cheers the Holy Father shouting 'Viva il Papa' in Italian, and in other languages, waving their hands in applause, many a pilgrim make a sign of the Cross in honour of the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ. The atmosphere is unique, the feeling of unity with the Holy Catholic Church is profound. Our Holy Father, Christ's most loving symbol of peace, seems to envelop all creation.

ST PETER'S BASILICA, the world's foremost in beauty and splendour,

has in its treasured department a reliquary containing the hair of the Virgin Mary, along with thorns from the crown of thorns and a bone of St Lazarus, with many other precious relics and costly jeweled garments. St Ann's arm is preserved in a reliquary in the Basilica of St Paul, outside the Walls.

At the Church of the Holy Stairs, Santa Scala, hundreds of pilgrims are continuously seen ascending the stairs on their knees -

stairs which were once ascended by Christ in the Pilate palace.


in Rome contains: three of the largest portions of the true Cross in the world; two thorns from the crown; the finger of St Thomas, which was placed in the wound of Christ's sacred side; one of the nails which pierced Christ;

also remnants of the pillar at which Jesus was scourged; along with the plaque inscribed above the Cross.

The catacombs of St Callistus contain the sepulchre of St Cecilia, which the early Christians had sealed, fearing that the body would be stolen. It was discovered centuries later. I had the privilege of sitting on the stone seat where the early martyred Pope St Callistus sat during his reign.


re-echoes the glories of the early martyrs for our Faith only that their triumph may encourage our present day ones.

PANTHEON - what heavenly joy to see the antiquated Pantheon giving glory to its true God. Once the biggest pagan temple of Rome

has been changed into Catholic Church.


have their graves in the lower church whose walls are decorated by bones of over four thousands monks. They are buried there in earth from Jerusalem, which is very warm and ordinarily decomposes the flesh within seven days. If after a period of years flesh still remains on the bones intact, the deceased monk is preserved in his Habit.

in Rome was at the time of Dr Casaroli's pilgrimage the site of an ordination of twelve Discalced Carmelites, performed by the Most reverend Bishop Benedetti, OCD. Next to the Church is their International College of Theology. When receiving Holy Communion, one first kisses the Bishop's ring.


The Duomo of St Januarius contains the phial of the Saint's blood, which liquifies on the First Sunday of May and on the Saint's feats day, September 19th. The Faithful petition his protection of Naples and its surroundings, pleading to hold down the ravages of the lava of Mt Vesuvius. Neapolitan tradition says St Januarius was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites. At a young age of 15, he became local priest of his parish in Benevento, which at the time was relatively pagan. When Januarius was 20, he became Bishop of Naples and befriended Juliana of Nicomedia and St.Sossius whom he met during his priestly studies as young boys. As Bishop of Naples, he performed many miracles. During the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, he hid his fellow Christians and prevented them from being caught. Unfortunately, while visiting Sossius in jail, he too was arrested. He was placed in a furnace to be cooked alive, he came out unscathed. He was pushed into the Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli to be eaten by wild bears, who had not eaten in days. Yet the animals refused to eat them, instead licking their toes.

Januarius was beheaded along with Sossius and his companions at Solfatara.


Contained within its cathedral is the very house where Mary and Jesus lived.

Some of the householdware can still be seen. Tradition has it that the sacred house was flown there from Jerusalem by angels after having been set down at two other places.


We can visit there the sacred place where St Paul taught the unknown God, and follow the road of his miraculous conversion from Damascus to Jerusalem.

HOLY LAND - for pictures, descriptions, addresses and info on the Catholic Holy places of worship in the Holy Land, please visit Franciscan cyberplace at Custodia Terrae Sanctae - Friaries

Mount Carmel, the Heart and Cradle of the Carmelite Order, is preserved by Discalced Carmelites. This is the site of the first Church ever built in honour of our Blessed Lady, over the grotto where St Elias the prophet has prayed and predicted nine hundred years before Christ the coming of the Mother of God. It was he who had previously brought down fire from heaven to consume the holocaust and prove the existence of the true God. A most motherly statue fashioned with all grace and beauty, our new modern Lady of Mt Carmel with Child, sculptured especially for inspiration to missionaries and the faithful, and known as the miraculous statue, is enshrined over the main altar of the monastery church of Mt Carmel. Her immaculate veil is so tenderly carved from wood and so artistically drawn in purest white fashion that one wonders if it is not the closest thing to reality. Her facial softness and sweet beauty, and that of her Child, cannot be just wooden carvings - a touch of the supernatural graces one's soul when privileged to adore the Son of God in the arms of Mary. I was favoured to kiss her foot. The Mount is the only one of its kind which has such a steep cornered descent with nature at its best in panorama. Never was happiness greater than in being privileged to stay two days within the sanctuary of the cloister of great Mt Carmel as a Third Order member.

I passed through its stone-paved streets and saw the slopes of Mt Tabor

of the Transfiguration on the way to Lake Tiberias where Christ preached from the lake-shore, walked on its water and there chose his first Apostles, Peter, John and James.

Church of St John the Baptist has within it the natural grotto where he was born.

Church of the Annunciation is venerated as the very place where the Angel of the Lord

declared unto Mary and she conceived through the Holy Ghost. A long-bearded Franciscan monk stated that whenever I heard the Angelus I would remember dearly that I was there at the very spot. What joy!


Church of Nativity in Bethlehem

is where our Lord was born; the place is marked by a star. The knights of old, the Crusaders, made the entrance door narrow and low, about four feet high, to prevent animals from entering and so that anyone entering the shrine would have to bow his head in respect. I kissed the star

where Christ was born and saw the manger cleaved out of stone. Needless to say, the soul really receives a new birth. The crib is enshrined in the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome.

My soul's ambition was realized when I was privileged to be in Cenacle, the chamber of the Last Supper, on the very spot on which the feast is commemorated - Holy Thursday.

The Cenacle is also the birthplace of the Church, the First Pentecost and the site where our Lord often visited His Apostles and Disciples and appeared particularly to St Thomas. This is also the Mount where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.
Its valley is prophesied to be the place of the Last Judgment. A piece of palm growing near the valley site was taken by the pilgrims as a souvenir.

Nearby, within the Benedictine Monastery, is where our Blessed Lady died and was assumed into heaven.

The Assumption was proclaimed a dogma of faith on the year of the pilgrimage described in this post.


Here Mary visited he cousin Elizabeth and pronounced the immortal Magnificat. I was privileged to drink from the very well that sustained them.


Is at the foot of the Mount of Olives where Christ ascended into heaven. Within its walls are venerated eight ancient olive trees dating back to the time of Christ, which had sheltered our Lord during His agony.

Here we were given the Lord's Prayer. Within its church is preserved the stone where Christ stood when seized by the soldiers. Mosque Omar has within its walls the huge rock where the ancient sacrifices were offered to God. Nearby Christ preached daily in the temple and cast out the money changers.

Mt Calvary is enshrined within the Holy Sepulchre Church .

On Good Friday I was privileged to make the stations over Via Dolorosa,

some six feet below the present surface, where Christ offered His Supreme Sacrifice for Man; and I worshipped the place regarded as the scene of the Crucifixion enshrined in the Holy Sepulchre Church is the site of the last four stations. 

Holy Sepulchre Church also contains the slab on which Christ our King was laid after He had been taken down from the Cross


and the pillar of the scourging along with the holiest of Holy Sepulchres - the tomb in which was placed the most sacred body of the Son of God. Without emotions one's soul realizes the majestic grandeur of kneeling before its God made Man in the substance of the Holy Eucharist placed upon the holiest tomb on Holy Thursday. To receive at the Shrine Altar of the Holy Sepulchre on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday gives one's soul its most cherished graces of a lifetime. May Jesus be praised forever for His meritorious Honour and Glory in living the life of the Cross for our Redemption, having suffered ignominious insults and torments from souls whom He favoured the most - as our model.

1 comment:

Macieluxcitânia said...

Just to say that , there's much more about Holy places , Monasteries and Churches of high spiritual significance in Portugal than you could write the rest of your life .
Fátima ? yes , i Love and Adore that powerful Place where earth touches Heaven , but , do you think Portugal , the Land of Santa Maria , the Land of Santa Cruz , the Land of the Espírito Santo , the Land , the Nation , that was Founded on the Blessing of Christ and the Holy Coss of Christ , and the only nation who has on Its Flag since the beginning , the Simbols of Christ , is "just" Fátima ?
The hole of Portugal is a n Holly Land !... but not all can see it (for now) .