Day 1: Departure from the USA
He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord (Romans 14: 6).
Our pilgrimage begins with an overnight flight to Lisbon, Portugal.
Day 2: Arrival in Portugal (D)
Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5).
Welcome to “Europe”, a word thought to mean “wide gazing”! We’ll greet the new day with eyes wide open in Europe’s westernmost capital city, Lisbon, Portugal. After a brief tour of this beautiful city rich in art, architecture and spirit, and home to many saints, we will visit St. Anthony’s Church. St. Anthony was strongly attracted to the simple good lifestyle of the Franciscan friars. When St. Anthony died, it is said that the children cried in the streets and that all the bells of the churches rang of their own accord, rung by angels come to earth to honor the death of this saint. St. Anthony is known in Portugal as a marriage saint, because legend has him as a conciliator of couples. The invocation of his name might also be associated with locating lost objects. We’ll enjoy dinner and another overnight stay in Lisbon.
Day 3: Santarem & Fatima (B,D)
May Portugal never forget the heavenly message of Fátima, which, before anybody else she was blessed to hear. To keep Fátima in your heart and to translate Fatima into deeds, is the best guarantee for ever more graces (Pope Pius XII).
After breakfast we’ll travel some 45 miles north of Lisbon to Portugal’s third largest city, Santarem, site of many notable churches including the Church of the Holy Miracle (Igreja do Santissimo Milagre) which contains a 13th century Eucharistic miracle on continuous display since 1269. The host is enshrined in its miraculous crystal pyx in a silver monstrance and placed on display atop a tabernacle. Four paintings and 16th-century glazed tiles depict the miracle. We then continue on to Fatima, home of one of most well known Marian shrines in the world, the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima (Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Fátima). Each year as many as four million people visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima because they are drawn by the reports of three local shepherd children who in 1917 saw the Virgin Mary. On the 13th of each month from May to October 1917, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to Lúcia dos Santos (age 10) and her cousins Jacinta (age 7) and Francisco Marto (age 9) in a pasture called the Cova da Iria near Fatima. We will enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in Fatima.
Day 4: Shrine of Fatima (B,D)
Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco 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 (Mary’s words to Lucia when Lucia asked the Virgin to take her and her cousins to heaven soon (as per Lucia’s account)).
We’ll begin the day by celebrating Mass, after which we’ll visit the Tombs of Francisco and Jacinta as well as other sites related to the miraculous appearances of Mary to the children. According to Lúcia’s account, Mary exhorted the children to say the Rosary every day and reiterated many times that devotion to the Rosary was the key to personal and world peace. We will have time in Fatima for our own devotions and prayers at the Hungarian Stations of the Cross, consisting of fourteen small chapels along walkways leading to a marble monument of Christ on the cross. Towards evening, we will be treated to a wonderful dinner and show (show of the ancient kings and queens) at Ourem Castle originally built between the 12th and 13th centuries and situated at the top of the hill overlooking the city. The Castle of Ourém is also known as the “Castle of the Queen of the World” because the light that transported Our Lady to her apparitions at Fatima in 1917 was seen to form directly above the castle mount. The shrine of Fatima has played an important role in recent times. On May 13, 1967, Pope Paul VI prayed at the shrine with Sister Lucia, and Pope John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life during the assassination attempt in 1981. He came to Fatima as a pilgrim on May 12, 1987, to express his gratitude, and the following day, he officially consecrated the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin, as Pius XII had done before him. We will have much to prayerfully consider as we enjoy dinner and our last overnight in Fatima.
Day 5: Alba de Tormes & Teresa of Avila (B,D)
The angel appeared to me to be thrusting the spear of fire into my heart and piercing my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and left me all on fire with a great love of God (St. Teresa of Avila).
Today we travel to Salamanca in western Spain, by way of Alba de Tormes, burial place of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). St. Teresa died on October 4, 1582 from an illness on a journey from Burgos to Alba de Tormes. Many miracles have been associated with St. Teresa since her death including the “odor of sanctity.” The night she died, her monastic cell back in Ávila was said to have filled with a pleasant fragrance and her coffin emitted the same heavenly fragrance when her body was exhumed 330 years later. We will have leisure time before dinner and our overnight in Salamanca, nicknamed La Ciudad Dorada (“The Golden City”) because of its Renaissance sandstone buildings and the golden glow of the Villamayor Stone, a type of sandstone coming from a quarry close by.
Day 6: Salamanca, Avila & Madrid (B,D)
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalms 116:15).
We awaken in Salamanca, the Golden City, known both for its monumental sights and its great University. Founded in 1218, it is the oldest university in Spain and the fifth oldest in the western world. The university is, together with tourism, the economic engine of Salamanca. The beautiful Tormes river lies next to Salamanca and is crossed by a 500–foot long bridge with more than two dozen arches, fifteen of which are of Roman origin and the rest from the 1500s. We celebrate Mass in the famous old Romanesque Cathedral built in the 12th century, whose vault of the apse was frescoed by the early Renaissance painter, Nicolas Florentino. In the treasury is the bronze crucifix that was carried into battle before El Cid. The afternoon finds us heading for Avila, birth place of St. Teresa of Avila and known for its medieval city walls constructed of brown granite in 1090 and containing eighty-eight towers and nine gateways that are still in excellent repair. A large part of the city now lies beyond their perimeter. We will visit the church where St. Teresa had frequent visions and ecstatic experiences. We will also see the Convent of St. Teresa, one of the main destinations for Catholic pilgrims to this city. The 17th-century convent was built after the canonization of St. Teresa over the house where she was born, and contains her relics, along with those of her friend St. John of the Cross, in a small museum. Finally, we make our way to Avila, where will enjoy dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 7: Madrid & El Escorial (B,D)
I sing of his elegance with words that groan, and I remember a sad breeze through the olive trees (Federico Garcia Lorca – best-known writer of modern Spain re some of the tragic events in his country).
This morning we continue to Madrid, the capital and largest city in Spain. Some contend that the original name of Madrid was “Ursaria” (“land of bears”) due to the high number of these animals found in the adjacent forests, which, together with the strawberry tree (madroño), have been emblems of the city from ancient times. We begin our day by visiting many of its remarkable landmarks including the Prado Museum which hosts one of the finest art collections in the world including important Spanish and Flemish paintings, classical statues purchased from Italy, medieval religious treasures and even some Romanesque frescoes. We will also explore Buen Retiro Park, founded in 1631, and the immense Royal Palace of Madrid. This afternoon we’ll travel about 28 miles northwest to El Escorial, situated at the foot of Mt. Abantos in the Sierra de Guadarrama, a semi-forested, wind-swept place that owes its name to nearby piles of slag or tailings (scoria) from old iron mines. El Escorial, built by King Philip II to mark his victory over the French at San-Quentin in 1557, is not only a historical residence of the King (and famous burial site for most of the Spanish kings for the last five centuries) but also functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school. The monastery contains important works of art by famous artists like El Creco and Velazquez, and in the Capitulary and the Sacristy Rooms, paintings such as Joseph’s Coat by Velázquez, The Last Supper by Titian, or The Adoration of the Sacred Host by Charles II by Claudio Coello are on display. We continue our excursion to a striking memorial to those who died in the Spanish Civil War in the nearby Valley of the Fallen where we will see a basilica built into the mountain which contains the tombs of many soldiers from both sides of the conflict. Toward day’s end, we return to Madrid for dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Toledo (B,D)
By a small sample we may judge of the whole piece (Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, pt. I, I, 4, p. 25).
“Holy Toledo” isn’t just a popular expression! This historic city and notable place of pilgrimage is about 42 miles southwest of Madrid. We’ll begin our journey early this morning because we won’t want to miss anything in this ancient capital that so inspired El Greco in the 16th century and that has remained relatively unchanged since his time. Old churches and houses fill the city where you can still stroll through streets barely wide enough for a man and his donkey. The great monuments left by the three monotheistic religions are most impressive although all are dominated by the Toledo Cathedral which is ranked among the greatest Gothic structures of Europe. Inside the cathedral are many important masterpieces including a spectacular baroque high altar and two paintings by El Greco. Other fascinating churches in Toledo include the Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz (Mosque of Christ of the Light), dated from the 10th century and the only surviving mosque in Toledo (out of ten), and the Church of San Román which has been deconsecrated and now houses the Museo de Arte Visigótico, a collection of Visigothic artifacts includes statuary, illuminated manuscripts, and gold and silver treasures. It is worth noting that “Holy Toledo” is the capital of the Catholic Church in Spain. We will have enjoyed a full, rich day as we return for dinner and enjoy our last overnight stay in Madrid.
Day 9: Depart for Home (B)
We will let the power of the holy shrines and priceless relics settle over us, then like other pilgrims of other times, go back to our lives with renewed faith and readiness.
We leave our hotel and head for the Madrid airport to return to the US.
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