In the Footsteps of
Our Lord and Our Lady are pleased when Their faithful children honor Them by going on pilgrimage. Just for making the effort, many graces are showered upon those who embark on pilgrimage. With each small sacrifice asked of the pilgrim, a simple yes by offering up the sacrifice without complaint is so pleasing to Our Savior and Heavenly Mother, that in return They again respond generously with more graces. On pilgrimage those sacrifices begin with the cost of the pilgrimage.
On a recent pilgrimage to Italy, organized by Our Lady’s Apostolate, the small sacrifices were generously rewarded not only by graces from Our Lord through the hands of Our Lady, but also with the variety offered by this pilgrimage.
Our 12 days were filled with destinations in Italy rich in our Catholic heritage. The initial days were spent in the Eternal City visiting the various ancient churches - St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, St. Peter’s Basilica, to name a few. One contains a large section of the wood of the manger where the Infant Jesus lay, another a piece of the True Cross and a nail with which Our Beloved Redeemer was pierced. We climbed on our knees the Holy Stairs where Christ walked up to Pilate.
Father Gruner offered Mass at the very spot in the church of St. Andrea delle Fratte where Our Lady appeared to and converted the Jew, Alphonse Ratisbonne. This was also the altar where St. Maximilian Kolbe offered his first Mass. We visited the Sistine Chapel where one can witness such beautiful scenes as souls being pulled into Heaven by the Rosary - a reminder of how powerful this form of prayer is.
The highlight of this particular pilgrimage was the Beatification Ceremony of Padre Pio. Following this, like many other pilgrims, we went on to San Giovanni Rotondo where Padre Pio spent the majority of his priestly life and visited the Shrine erected by his spiritual children. We met Padre Pio’s Secretary, Father Alessio, and received a special blessing with Padre Pio’s glove. However, unlike many other pilgrims, we then went on to the town where Padre Pio grew up, Pietrelcina. This part of our journey also included a visit to Monte Sant’Angelo where the Archangel St. Michael appeared 1,500 years ago. In the very cave where St. Michael appeared, Father Gruner offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Other destinations included Tolentino, the home town of St. Nicholas; Osimo, resting place of the flying saint, St. Joseph of Cupertino; and Montecassino, where the great Monastery founded by St. Benedict 1,500 years ago is located. We made an unscheduled stop nearby at the castle owned by the family of St. Thomas Aquinas and saw the room where he was imprisoned by his family for two years.
We took a trip to Lanciano where - in the 8th Century during the Holy Mass - Our Lord manifested His True Presence in the Eucharist. After the Consecration, the Host was changed into live
Flesh and the wine changed into live Blood which coagulated. The Host-Flesh and Blood can still be seen today.
We visited the House of the Holy Family of Nazareth, which, in the 13th Century, was carried by the angels from Nazareth to a small eastern Italian town called Loreto, not far from Ancona.