Reminder: The “Holy Stairs” in Rome are still closed for now

 

The entrance of the Holy Stairs before its' closure
The entrance of “The Holy Stairs” before its’ closure

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The restoration work is not being done on the stairs themselves (which are protected by a wood covering) but of the frescoes on the walls surrounding the stairs.  Over the years they became darkened and could barely be seen. Restoration will restore them to their original beauty, but has necessitated closing of the stairs themselves.

But you can still visit:  Although a temporary image of the entrance has been placed over the actual entrance, an additional set of stairs has been installed next to the stairway, and pilgrims can climb those instead.

The stairs will reopen in late 2018, but we do not have a definite date at this point.

Here is a great video about the work being done from Catholic News Service.

 

 

 

 

Best travel insurance for hurricanes

For 6 months out of the year, hurricanes pose a serious threat to travelers taking their long-awaited summer vacations. Many travelers look for travel insurance to offset that risk during hurricane season, however finding the best travel insurance for hurricanes is important to make sure you’re covered.

The Best Travel Insurance for Hurricanes is Comprehensive

Travelers who are worried about a hurricane or tropical storm ruining their trip should search for a policy with the Trip Cancellation benefit. Most cancellation policies automatically include Hurricane & Weather coverage.

Trip Cancellation can refund 100% of your prepaid and non-refundable trip expenses if you have to cancel your trip altogether before leaving your home. To search for travel insurance policies with this coverage, go to Squaremouth and select “Yes” when asked “Should this search include Trip Cancellation coverage?” By doing so, you will be prompted to enter the trip cost you would like to protect.

Getting a cancellation policy with comprehensive coverage also means you will have Trip Interruption coverage. This benefit covers the same events as Trip Cancellation, however coverage begins after you have left for your trip. If you need to cut your trip short, Trip Interruption can refund the cost of the unused portion of your trip, as well as the additional transportation expenses you incur to return home.

Because most policies are comprehensive, a cancellation-style policy will also have coverage for medical emergencies, travel delays, and luggage.

When You’re Covered if There is a Storm

Most comprehensive travel insurance policies can refund your trip costs if a storm significantly impacts your trip or prevents you from traveling. Each policy has specific situations that can trigger coverage. In order for coverage to begin, typically one of the following must occur:

  • Your flight or cruise is delayed by at least 6-48 hours, or canceled outright
  • Your hotel at your destination is severely damaged and deemed uninhabitable
  • A mandatory evacuation order or a hurricane warning is issued at your destination
  • Your home is rendered uninhabitable by the storm

Cancel For Any Reason: an Option for Added Flexibility

For additional flexibility, you may be able to upgrade a policy to include Cancel For Any Reason, which refunds you if you have to cancel for a reason not covered by Trip Cancellation. This can include simply changing your mind and not wanting to travel, fear of traveling, or loss of enjoyment at your destination, such as the beaches being less appealing than you were hoping.

There are, however, some stipulations regarding Cancel For Any Reason coverage:

  • Cancel For Any Reason is only available for 14-30 days after making your first trip payment
  • Your premium will typically increase by about 40%, and you must insure 100% of your prepaid and non-refundable trip costs
  • You can be reimbursed up to 75% of those trip costs
  • You must cancel at least 2-3 before you are scheduled to depart.

See this video on  “Cancel for any Reason” here.

Five Surprising Facts You Should Know About Trains in Europe

5 Surprising Facts You Should Know About Trains in Europe | Save A Train

Trains in Europe are a big thing; we love our rails, and we’ll choose them over any other type of transportation at any time. Apart from getting from point A to point B in a swift, comfortable and reliable manner, there’s so much most of you aren’t even aware of about train transportation.

Ever wondered what a pilgrimage is like for deaf people?

Many of us who travel on pilgrimages are used to hearing the priest celebrating Mass in holy shrines around the world, listening to local guides explain various sites, and enjoying the sounds of a new location.  But what if you are deaf?  To be honest, we never considered it before….and yet there are many Catholics who are deaf.

So, do they miss out on much of the pilgrimage?  Yes, presumably they do.

Unless, of course, you could go on a pilgrimage led by a priest who is deaf himself, and uses sign language as he celebrates Mass.

Pretty long odds that you could find one, unless it happens to be Father Michael Depcik, who is actually deaf himself, and who currently ministers to deaf Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Here is a link to his story.  And here is his blog.

And probably even longer odds that he would be accompanied by a religious sister who also knew English sign language.  But, again, they beat the odds with Sister Kathleen Monica Schipani, the Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Persons with Disabilities and the Deaf Apostolate and who is an expert in signing.

Here is a link to Sister Kathleen’s story.

And……..then we found a pilgrimage offered by Select International Tours which has both of them leading the group.

Unfortunately, even though it is not until October 2019, we have been told that it is already sold out!  But we found the story so interesting that we wanted to share it with you anyway, and hopefully there will be more pilgrimages for the deaf in the future.

As we said, we never had considered the difficulty a deaf person might have in fully participating in a pilgrimage..or in the life of the Church in general.

Tips to make Italy train travel a breeze

Italy is one of the world’s most beautiful places. Since the time of the Romans and before, travelers have long sought out this part of Europe. From the snow capped mountains of the Italian Alps to the joys of the pretty beaches at the foot of Italy, Italy is a traveler’s delight. Despite offering culture, art and wonderful views at every turn, the nation of Italy is a relatively compact place. This makes it easy to get around. There are many ways for people to travel around Italy. People can flit from village to village by boat or head out one of the country’s famous highways. One of the most popular forms of all transport is by train. Italy’s trains are famously run on time and crisscross the entire country.

While travel by train is a great way to see both urban Italy and the Italian countryside, Italian trains can also be stressful. It helps to keep a few tips in mind when buying tickets, boarding, sitting on the train and heading out from the train platform. It also helps to keep a few tips in mind when navigating from one Italian line to the next.

 

Different Types of Trains

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that most Italian trains have two classes. There’s first class and second class. There are few differences between the two. Many local city trains, such as those found in Rome, do not have classes at all. Another important thing to keep in mind are the many different types of Italian train lines. There are both public train lines and privately run train lines.

In general, the Italian lines are divided into three types.

The Le Frecce trains provide high speed rail transit between major Italian cities.

Other important lines are the EuroCity, the InterCity, and the international train lines. These trains are part of a much larger network of trains typically spanning not only Italy but the surrounding nations as well. These are often covered by a rail pass.

There also regional trains. Regional trains are the local workhorse of the area, serving both travelers as well as commuters on their way to work.

 

Advance Reservations

It’s highly important to keep in mind that some lines require travelers to make advanced reservations. The Le Frecce lines require such reservations. It’s a good idea to make them as soon as your travel. Travelers can purchase specific passholder seat reservations that are reserved for their use. These are sold at both train stations and from many travel agencies in the United States and other places. If you have your agenda already, you’re in luck. You can easily reserve more than one of your planned trains during a single visit to the platform. You are not required to meet deadlines so this can be shortly before boarding. It’s a good idea to do this well in advance before you travel. Look up each route that you want to take before you go so. Make sure you know when the train departs and when it arrives.

 

Specific Trains

Many Italian trains travel a route that includes several major cities in a single city. For example, a train may go from Florence to Rome and then to Naples. However, some trains stick to specific route. Be aware of these routes before you leave. For example, the Circumvesuviana brings travelers from Naples and then to Pompei and to further south to Amalfi. This is the only train that covers these routes. Likewise, the Malpensa Express train is the train that will get you from the center of Milan to the airport. These train lines should be reserved in advance whenever possible. If you have not done so, you should make sure to allow enough time to get the station. During the busier and more popular tourist times, seats fill up fast. Getting there early will help you make sure you don’t miss your connections and you do get a seat.

 

Where to Buy Tickets

It is possible to buy a rail pass. However, the rail pass is not accepted on all lines. In that case, you may need to buy your tickets at the station. There are ticket machines found in all railways. At the same time, many people avoid these machines as they can be complicated and confusing. Buying ticket at the ticket window gives you more options and a person to speak with. Make sure you are standing in the right line or you’ll have to start all over again. Buying tickets at travel agencies may cost a little more but it can help avoid crowds and work with people who understand the local trains intimately. They frequently have discounts not available to the general public. Keep in mind there are discounts available for certain groups. For example, if you are sixty or over, you can save money on your train fare. The same is true for those under twenty-five and under. They can also be eligible for discount train tickets. Sensible measures will make your Italian train travel far easier and far less stressful.

Cause for Servant of God Rhoda Wise going to Rome

The Formal Diocesan Investigation for the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Rhoda Wise will close on July 6, 2018.   The Acts of the Case will be present and sealed for transport to Rome at a 10:00 am Mass to be held at St. Peter’s in Canton, Ohio on July 7, 2018, the 70th anniversary of her death.

The main celebrant will be Monsignor Robert Siffrin, Vicar General of the diocese.  The celebration will continue with a Eucharistic holy hour, recitation of the Rosary, and the opportunity for Confession after Mass.  Rhoda Wise House and Grotto will open to the public at 1:00pm that day.

See www.rhodawise.com or call 330-453-0322 for further details.

Pope Francis invited to visit the United Arab Emirates

On June 5, 2018 Pope Francis received Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the U.A.E., who was on an official visit to the State of Vatican City, during which he handed over a message from Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, inviting Pope Francis to visit the UAE.and was invited to pay a visit to the United Arab Emirates

No date has been announced, but we assume that he will accept the invitation and visit in the not too far distant future.

The U.A.E., a federal union made up of seven states,  has about 10% Catholic population (mostly foreign workers), established full diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 2007.

There are several major Catholic churches in the U.A.E.

Source:  IPS News

Fr. Leo Patalinghug leads a Holy Land tour with a culinary twist

We want everyone to know about this unique opportunity to travel with Fr. Leo Patalinghug as he journeys to the Holy Land and Jordan.  Many of you may know or have seen Fr. Leo on EWTN where he hosts “Grace before meals“.

Learn more about this magnificent part of the world where Jesus walked, preached, was crucified and rose from the dead. You will visit all the holy places:  Bethlehem, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, Mt. of Olives (just to name a few)…..and even cross over to Jordan (“the other Holy Land”), the place where Jesus was actually baptized, visit the world famous site of Petra, and the capital city of Amman.

Father Leo will celebrate Mass daily with your group and lead you on some great culinary adventures as well!  You will dine with the locals…and even be involved in the cooking!  You will truly immerse yourself in the Holy Land experience.

You will enjoy dining with locals
You will enjoy dining with locals

Picture dining in the highly regarded Magdalena Restaurant  along the Sea of Galilee; have lunch  at the famous Bedouin Tent Restaurant in Bethlehem with a food presentation by Fr. Leo and Tent’s chefs including local bread and za’atar (great for dunking bread);  dine in the homes of local Christian families of Bethlehem for “Sharing the Bread” home-cooked meals.

You will visit the local chapter of the ‘Slow Food’ network for a cooking class: Bait al Karama is the first female-run cooking school in Palestine, run and managed by disadvantaged women living in the Old City of Nablus. Observe a local chef prepare some classic Palestinian dishes. Enjoy your creations over lunch and discover what life is like for women in this small Palestinian town.

As an expression of our solidarity with the local Christian population, the group will shop in Bethlehem to help support the local Christian families and visit the Crimson Winery, operated by the Salesian Community, where you will enjoy a wine tasting.

In Jordan you will dine at the famous Tawaheen al-Hawa restaurant in Amman;  visit the Beit Sitti cooking school, known as one of the most innovative developments in Jordan’s dining scene. You will get to cook (and eat) an authentic meal under supervision.

Then, the question we get all the time:  is it safe to travel to the Holy Land?  Yes it is probably safer here than anywhere.  Last year saw a record number of visitors to Israel….and all of them returned safely.  Check this blog article about safety in the Holy Land.

We discovered this unique pilgrimage a bit late (it take place June 17-28), but there are few spaces left.  Don’t miss out…..see this exciting itinerary and sign up at Select International Tours.

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