Fatima | Coimbra | Braga
Santiago | Gijon | Covadonga
Loyola | Lourdes | Montserrat | Barcelona

Fatima, Portugal
Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lisbon Airport.

From the Airport to the Shrine
Pilgrims on the long walk from Lisbon to Fatima.

We spent our afternoon at the Shrine exploring this wondrous place before sharing it tomorrow with thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.

Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, setting of the Candlelight Vigil and Rosary with Pope Francis.

The Basilica of the Holy Trinity with chapels, a museum, reconciliation areas, and seating for 8,633.

The Chapel of the Apparitions was originally built in the Cova da Iria, the place of the apparitions.
The statue of Our Lady of Fatima is brought to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary's high altar for Masses and candelight vigils. Afterwards it is carried through the crowds back to the chapel, to rest on a marble pillar marking the exact spot of the apparitions.
Masses throughout the day in the Chapel of Apparitions.

Pope John Paul II, the Pope of Our Lady of Fatima.
On Dec. 27, 1983, when the Pope visited his would-be killer Mehmet Ali Agca in jail, he asked the Pope, "Why didn’t you die? I know that my aim was true and I know that the bullet was very powerful and mortal." The Pope responded, "One hand fired the shot. Another (the hand of the Virgin Mary) guided it."
As a measure of his gratitude, John Paul gave the bullet that was extracted from his abdomen to the shrine; the bullet today forms part of the crown of the statue of the Virgin of Fatima.

The jewels on the crown were donated by the royal family and other wealthy families.

The bullet is in the center of the crown, pointing down.

The gate leading to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary

The altar outside of the Basicilica

Sculpture in Basilica of the Holy Trinity

Sculpture with me in it.

We were here with pilgrims from all over the world.

Friday, May 12, 2017
Arrival of Pope Francis

Waiting for the Pope

Pope Francis
(This awesome photo by our Paul B.)

Friday, May 12, 2017
Rosary Candlelight Procession

What an experience! The Pope on the altar, magnificant sacred music in the background, 500,000 people holding lighted candles, pilgrims from around the world speaking different languages, squeezing to make room for each other, and together praying the Rosary (each decade was prayed in a different language). These were my people. This was my faith community, and I felt so thankful and so blessed to be here.


Saturday, May 13, 2017
Canonization of Jacinta and Francisco
Mass celebrating the 100th anniversary of Our Lady's first appearance.

To share this wondrous morning with us was a most gracious new friend. As we were searching for a spot to put down our stools, this nice man, with his own Lady of Fatima, made a space for us. We were just behind and toward the right of the gate leading directly down to the altar. About five rows ahead was a large poster on a fence with a message in eight languages.
As we waited for Pope Francis to arrive, I kept repeating the words in each language on the poster:
"My immaculate heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass, Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima
13 May 2017
"There appeared in heaven a woman clothed with the sun. So the seer of Patmos tells us in the Book of Revelation (12:1), adding that she was about to give birth to a son. Then, in the Gospel, we hear Jesus say to his disciple, Here is your mother (Jn 19:27). We have a mother! So beautiful a Lady, as the seers of Fatima said to one another as they returned home on that blessed day of 13 March a hundred years ago. That evening, Jacinta could not restrain herself and told the secret to her mother: 'Today I saw Our Lady.' They had seen the mother of Heaven. Many others sought to share that vision, but they did not see her. The Virgin Mother did not come here so that we could see her. We will have all eternity for that. . . ."
Please click here to read the entire homily.

Pope Francis visits the tombs of Jacinta and Francisco

Jacinta and Francisco, canonized by the Pope today.


At one end of the massive esplanade, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Chapel of the Apparitions


Coimbra, Portugal
Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mass in the Chapel of the Carmelite Monastery
Coimbra, Portugal

The morning after a wonderful, momentous event in our lives is different from other mornings. We feel joy, peace, and love. The mind, heart, body, and soul are in harmony, connected, and at rest. It's how I felt the morning after each daughter's wedding, and how my aunt felt the morning after her son was ordained. I think we all were in that state this morning, and the quiet, peaceful Carmelite Monastery in Coimbra, Portugal was the perfect place to be.
The Carmelite Sisters stay behind the gate for Mass, but today two sisters came out before Mass to welcome us. They didn't speak, but Sister Irene walked down the aisle nodding and smiling.

Sister Irene & our Maureen
The halos have just been placed over Jacintas's and Francisco's statues to honor the two new saints. Jacinta was born in 1910 and died in 1920. Francisco was born in 1908 and died in 1919.

Receiving Holy Communion in the Carmel of Saint Therese Chapel.
Joining us were pilgrims from Africa and Ireland. The Irish priest said Mass, and we loved his personal, witty, and thoughtful homily, relating to pilgrims, like us, and the story in the gospel, doubt and truth. (John 14:1-12)

In March of 1948, Lucia entered this Carmel of Saint Therese and in 1949 made her vows, taking the name of Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart. She visited Fatima several times, in 1981 to direct a series of paintings on the apparitions. She died in 2005.

Just Before Boarding our Bus


Sunday Afternoon at Bom Jesus do Monte (Good Jesus of the Mount)
Braga, Portugal


Ann & Bette preparing for the photoshoot.

Charlie shoots Pat as she shoots the Our Lady of Hope pilgrims.

Pilgrims on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Portugal!


On the Road to Santiago & the Camino de Compostele

On the bus. . .

on the way to Santiago. Portugal is beautiful.

The Cathedral of Saint James the Apostle
Santiago, Spain
Monday, May 15, 2017

Saint James Cathedral de Compostela
Photo by Paul J.

The column statues of the Apostles. The single column is Saint James. The scroll in his hand has the words
Misit me Dominus (the Lord sent me).
Pilgrims touch the left foot of this statue, signifying that they have reached their destination, so many pilgrims that a groove has been worn in the stone.

Mass at noon. Charlie & I had a perfect standing spot, three seats to the right of the lady in the photo above. Everyone squeezed around us seemed as happy as I was just to be where we were. And once again on this Pilgrimage I was thinking,
"I can't believe I'm here."
The Botafumerio
This huge censer hangs from the ceiling, and is used to burn incense during Mass. It was lowered and six men in red vestments lit the incense, then pulled on huge ropes to swing the censer back and forth, from one end of the transept to the other at gradually wider sweeps and greater speed. Just like the final scene in the movie The Way! It was awesome!

Chapel of the Exposition

The Camino de Compostela

I walked 9 miles on The Way, one for each of my grandchildren,
then went in the Chapel of the Exposition to say a prayer for them and an extra one for my grandson James. When I came out and looked around, all the ways out of the plaza looked like the one I came in on, and there were no Camino di Santiago signs pointing the way out. Then I heard someone yell, "Bette"! It was Elaine and Charlotte, and together we found our way to Puerta del Camino, our hotel. On the way we came to a little chapel named for Lazarus. Our feet were tired, but Mass was going on and all seats were taken, and it was getting late, so we kept walking.

Nine Miles


On the Way to Covadonga
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pictures from the Bus

Life on the bus was very pleasant!
Pedro is the best driver in the world. We never had to worry about falling off a cliff or being pushed off by another bus. A bus driver in Fatima told us that Pedro was the best there is and that others could only aspire to be like him.
Teresa is the best tour guide in the world. About a half hour before we reached a new destination, she would begin talking about it, and it didn't take long to recognize and appreciate her knowledge, understanding, wit, wisdom, and spirit. Teresa's bus talks are so good they should be collected and published.
Also, on the bus we sometimes sang, led by Christina, said the Rosary, led by Deacon Paul, took photos through the window, and enjoyed conversing with our bus neighbors.
On-the-Road Photos


On the Way to Covadonga

A short stop in Gijon, a beach & marina town.


While Paul J. was taking these lovely panorama photos, Charlie headed off in search of the perfect local lunch. He found his perfect sardines in a little place at the top of Gijon's cliff (at the top of Paul's photo). I was too busy using their WiFi and emailing the children to have lunch before it was time to be at the bus. So, we poured the rest of Charlie's beer into a plastic cup and the cook gave me a hunk of bread, which I carried and enjoyed running to the bus.


May 16, 2017

The Holy Cave of Covadonga is a Catholic sanctuary, in the Spanish Principality of Asturias, in the foothills of Mount Auseva.

A statue of the Virgin Mary had been left in the cave where the forces of King Don Pelayo and the Chistians took shelter, and Christians affirm that the miraculous intervention of the Virgin Mary was decisive in their victory in the Battle of Covadonga.
La Santa Cueva. Chapel in a Cave.

Steps leading up to the Chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mass in la Santa Cueva at 7:00 p.m. was said in Spanish by a Priest from Costa Rica, assisted by our Deacon Paul. It was so beautiful, at twilight, with mountains all around, the sound of the waterfall below, and Pilgrims like us from Costa Rica. An "I can't believe I'm here" moment.

La Basilica de la Santa Cueva
The Chapel of the Basilica

The hundred year old Gran Hotel Pelayo. Wonderful!
Windows open at night. Awakened by the birds. A full-service dinner and breakfast.

Gran Hotel Pelayo Bedroom!

Gran Hotel Pelayo Flowers!
Pilgrims Relaxing outside the Gran Hotel Pelago


On the Road Again to

May 17, 2017

The birthplace of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.


St. Ignatius was born in this room.

I can imagine him day-dreaming on this stool.
Home of St. Ignatius
I wondered if Ignatius smiled very much growing up in that big dark home.

Before his conversion. Wounded at Pamploma.

After his conversion. Jesuit Priest.

We attended Mass in the Chapel of St. Ignatius' home with pilgrims from the African Republic of Gabon, all in colorful dress made especially for this pilgrimage. Deacon Paul assisted their priest, who said Mass in French, but he was so expressive he was able to make his Homily understandable to us. It was wonderful! His enthusiasm and the enthusiam of all his pilgrims made us feel like disciples together. They sang throughout Mass and walked up and down the aisle to offer peace to all of us. We sang along with them when we knew the words and clapped to their beat when we didn't.
A real communion of faith moment!
One custom that is totally different from ours is the way Catholics from Gabon take Communion. We followed the Gabon pilgrims as they walked behind the altar, each taking a host from a bowl and dipping it into a chalice of wine.

View facing the Saint Ignatius Basilica.
The Basilica Chapel

View from the Saint Ignatius Basilica.


Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine. Lourdes, France
May 17, 2017

We arrived in time for dinner, a visit to the Grotto, and the Candlelight Rosary Procession

St. Joseph's Gate, one of three entrance
and the first view of The Rosary Basilica.

The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

Candlelight Rosary Procession

Healing Waters. Several women in our group bathed in the healing waters. The glow on their faces, the light in their eyes, and their comments afterwards made me wish I had been brave enough to do the same.

Saint Bernadette
Saint Therese

View across the river of the Grotto and Basilica

Thursday, May 18, 2017
9:00 a.m. Mass at Chapella Saints Come et Damien
A Rainy & Beautiful Walking Tour. Led by our wonderful Teresa, we traced the life of St. Bernadette in the City of Lourdes:

Bernadette & Her Family

Our Lady of Lourdes' Promise to Bernadette

The Promise
Here, Bernadette's father, Francois Soubirous, master miller, worked 10 years to earn the daily bread for his family.

Bernadette's Bed

Her Rosary and Shoes
Prayer to Our Lady of the Home

Mary, you who are the Mother of the Church
the Mother of Humanity,
you were first the Mother of Jesus.
Jesus,Joseph and you mke up the HolyFamily

At the Boly Mill,
Bernadette's family lived wonderful years,
sharing their joys and their sufferings,
welcoming and generous to others.

You watched each of them tenderly.
You were already preparing little Bernadette
to become one day your confidant
and to fulfil her mission.

When poverty came,
the Soubirous family found refuge in the old prison.
They held firm in adversity,
thanks to prayer.

Watch over our families:
We entrust them to you.
May they be places of love, of respect, of forgiveness
and of welcome.

May each family member grow as a child of God,
living in the gospel in the service of others,
in the wide family of the Church
whose Mother you are.

Lighting Candles at the Shrine for our Family and Friends


Through the Pyrenees from Lourdes to Montserrat
May 19, 2017

At this point on the bus, Teresa read aloud "A Tourist Prayer." Please click here to read this prayer.

Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat

Benedictine Monastery
Along the steps leading to the Black Madonna are murals of various women saints.

According to Catholic tradition, the statue of the Black Virgin of Montserrat was carved by St. Luke around 50 AD and brought to Spain. It was later hidden from the Moors in a cave, where it was rediscovered by shepherds in 880 AD. They saw a bright light and heard heavenly music that eventually led them to the grotto and the statue. The Bishop of Manresa, present at the discovery, suggested that it be moved to Manresa, but the small statue was discovered to be so heavy it could not be lifted. Thus, the Virgin had indicated her will to stay on Montserrat to be venerated there. In the 11th century, the abbot-bishop Oliba founded a monastery on the mountain of Montserrat next to one of the chapels, where the Benedictine Abbey is still preserved.

Montserrat Art Museum

from the Museum's permanent collection. The Altar Boy, Pablo Picasso


Barcelona, Spain
May 20, 2017

Gaudi Inspsiration?

Gaudi Creation

Morning on Montjuïc Hill

View from the eastern side of Montjuïc Hill overlooking Barcelona's harbour.
Relaxing on Montjuic Hill

Around the City

A Gaudi Inspiration?

A lobster in a park!

A Fish on top of a casino!

On the last afternoon of our Pilgrimage, Elaine, Mary Alice, Jacie, Charlie and I walked from our hotel (Hotel Balmoral, Via Augusta 5) to the Market, quite a long walk. Stopping at the seed packet booth along the way and exploring the sensational Market, then a pleasant stop along the street for a drink, we were having so much fun that half way back we realized we had to hail a taxi to get back in time for 6 o'clock Mass at Notre Dame de Pompei, our last Mass together.

Amazing! The Market's play area.

No, Charlie. Put it back.

The bubble man

and Bette
Barcelona, a city with a bright, warm way and surprises everywhere; a walker-friendly, biker-friendly, family-friendly pilgrim-friendly city; and a city with the material and the spiritual in tune.
Barcelona, a city for the young, the middle, & the old.

Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia
(Basilica of the Holy Family)

"In 1915 Monsignor Ragonesi, Papal Nuncio to Spain, visited the Sagrada Familia while it was in the early stages of consruction. After listening to Gaudi's explanation of his architectural concept, he said, 'Maestro, you are the Dante of architecture.
Your magnificent work is a Christian poem carved in stone.'"
--Associacio Beatificacio d' Antoni Gaudi
Currently there are no scheduled Masses in Segrada Familia.
The Basilica is due to be completed in 2023.

Though you can't see it from my photo, each turret has a colorful bowl of different fruit on its peak.

Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and Penitence
in the basement of the Sagrada Familia

Gaudi is buried here.

Here in Barcelona I meet my Black Madonna again.

Our Pilgrimage ended on May 21. I felt both sad and happy as I watched from my hotel
window my fellow pilgrims board the bus at 4:00 a.m. for the ride to the airport.
Sad that our trip was over and happy because it was so much more than I could have imagined.

A week later Charlie and I were back in Barcelona, and while he was returning the
rental, I walked to the Sagrada Familie for 7:00 p.m. Mass in this Chapel. When Mass ended,
and I was leaving, an elderly man tapped me on the shoulder. He was shaking his head and pointing to the altar. As many people were walking toward the altar as toward the door. I thought some private ceremony was beginning and didn't want to intrude. But the man was insistant. He was gently pushing me toward the altar. Then the priest came out, went from person to person putting his hand on each one's head and blessing each one individually.
That blessing meant a lot to me, and I thank the man for leading me there.

Monte do Gozo (Hill of Joy) is a hill in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. It is the place where Christian pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago get their first views of the three spires of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It is the pilgrims' last hill and last stop before reaching the cathedral, where they cry out in joy at finally seeing the end of their way.

Our Pilgrims On the Hill of Joy
The Hill of Joy, a perfect metaphor.
In my memory, our Pilgrimage 2017 will always be one of the hills of joy in my life.