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Latest News on the Baths at Lourdes Sanctuary

One of the most desired activities when visiting Lourdes is, of course, the baths.  Being immersed in the baths is something most pilgrims look forward to.  Unfortunately, that is still not being done (as of March 29) but the Shrine has made some effort to give you something close to that experience.

Here is what they say on their official site:

Getting water from the spring at Lourdes, FranceFor health reasons and to respect physical and social distancing, bathing is not possible at the moment.  Accompanied by the Hospitallers of Our Lady of Lourdes, the spiritual approach of the gesture of water consists of drinking Lourdes water and washing your face, in this symbolic place of swimming pools, full of stories, prayers and of thanks.

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Latest entrance requirements for Israel

Starting March 1, 2022 there are new entrance requirements for tourists visiting Israel:

1. You do not have to be vaccinated.

2. You must have had a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to arrival.

3. Upon arrival in Israel, you must take another test to enter the country.

4.  You must go straight to wherever you are staying until you receive your results.  Although they state it could take up to 24 hours, the results usually arrive in 6-12 hours.

All of this might sound daunting, but if you are traveling with a group you should not have any major problems, because a good tour operator will have anticipated all of this.

Our friends at Select International Tours have stated:

The test results (upon arrival) typically only take an hour or so, so we have not had to do much other than wait. But if this lengthens out, we will take them to the hotel until results are released. We have so far had four groups there and none have had any interruption to the itinerary at all“.

So our advice is don’t let any of this concern you.

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Many European Christmas Markets cancelled in 2021…but some are open

European Christmas Markets closed by policeThe resurgence of Covid in both Austria and Germany have also forced the cancellation of most of the Germany & Austria’s Christmas markets in 2021, the second year many of the markets have been forced to close over COVID.  These markets generally run from late November up until Christmas.

The closures in Germany include Munich, Nuremberg, Passau, Regensburg, Brandenburg, and the Dresden market, along with Austria’s Vienna (Dream Christmas Market), and more.

Because of this, a number of tour operators have made decisions to either alter or cancel their Christmas Markets itineraries, including river cruises that have been increasingly popular in recent years.

 

Christmas Market in PragueThere is some good news!  Some European Markets will be open.

The Market in Budapest, Hungary will be open from Nov 19 through Dec 31.

The market in Prague, Czech Republic will be open this year from Nov 27 through January 6..

Also, it appears most, if not all,  the Christmas markets in France will remain open!

 

If you know of any others please send us an email so that we can update our list.

 

2021 Quebec Christmas MarketFor those in North America, the Quebec European-style  Christmas market will be open from Nov 25 thru Dec 23.

If arriving from other countries be sure to check the entry requirements for Canada.

 

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Cardinal Sarah celebrates Mass at the 2021 Medjugorje Youth Festival

Youth Festival in Medjugorje 2021 crowd
The huge numbers at the Mass for the 2021 Youth Festival

Every year in August, Medjugorje hosts a youth festival which draws over 50,000 young people from around the world.  This year’s event was no exception, drawing probably a record number.  It should be noted that the apparitions of the Blessed Mother reported here have not yet been officially approved by the Church, the Church has approved Medjugorje as a pilgrimage destination.  Priests are encouraged to accompany pilgrims to provide spiritual guidance.

 

Cardinal Sarah celebrate Mass in Medjugorje
Cardinal Sarah in Medjugorje

Evidence of this was made clear by the main celebrant of the Mass here:  Cardinal Robert Sarah (pronounced sar-ahh).  Noted as one of the potential candidates for the Chair of Saint Peter, it is certainly a sign that the shrine of  Medjugorje has achieved some acceptance by the Church, even though the apparitions themselves have yet to be approved.

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Free Eye-Opening conference Sunday to support Christians in the Holy Land

You know how passionate we are about supporting Christian families in the Holy Land, who suffer persecution and are, sad to say, a minority in the land of Jesus’ birth.

Please join a FREE 90-minute online conference called Renew Hope for the Holy Land on Sunday, November 15, 2020, at 7 PM EST to learn about our Christian brothers and sister living in the Holy Land.

Registration for this event is FREE and during it, you will hear from Christians who are living in the Holy Land right now as well as Jeff Cavins, Gus Lloyd, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio and many other prominent speakers, evangelists, and authors.

This will be an eye-opening introduction to the situation our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land face every day and will end with a time to ask questions. Learn more at https://selecttogive.org/hope/

Again, registration is free, visit https://selecttogive.org/hope/ to learn more and register for FREE.

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Confused about the Great Pardon of Assisi?

August 1 & 2 are the dates to obtain a plenary indulgence through the Great Pardon of Assisi. 

If you are confused about how to obtain the Great Pardon of Assisi, you are not alone.

Various websites have various versions:  Some say the great pardon of Assisi cannot be obtained at just any parish church, but must be at a Franciscan church, while others say it can be any Catholic church.  We have confirmed that you can receive the Great Pardon of Assisi at any Catholic church in the world.   Originally it was confined to those who could actually visit Assisi or any other Franciscan church, but in many cases this is not possible, and so it was later changed to include any Catholic church.(subject to the usual conditions, of course).

 

To learn about the Great Pardon of Assisi, check out our page here.

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Pope Francis declares Mission San Buenaventura a Basilica

The Mission’s website reads:

“With all praise and glory to God, Pope Francis has elevated Mission San Buenaventura to the status of a Minor Basilica, the first basilica in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Archbishop Jose Gomez was notified of this status by a communication from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Our parish, now titled Mission Basilica San Buenaventura, is the sevneth minor basilica in Alta California and numbers 88th in the United States.”

“We are most grateful to His Holiness, Pope Francis for this honor and to Archbishop Jose Gomez for his unwavering support for this petition. Bishop Robert Barron who also supported this petition, was installed as Episcopal Vicar for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region in 2015 at our Mission. The formal date for the celebration of this milestone for the people of God in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and all people of good will in the City of San Buenaventura and the County of Ventura is pending.”

Here is the official website for the Mission San Buenventura Basilica

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Ban on cruising in U.S. waters extended

The Centers for Disease Control had banned cruising in U.S. waters through July 24, 2020. For those cruise ports that are in U.S.waters, that meant no cruises departing from the U.S. whatsoever.  That would also apply, of course, to Transatlantic crossings docking in the U.S.

Under the new extension, cruising will not resume until October 1 at the earliest.  We suspect that even this date is highly likely to change.

The Canadian government has also come down hard:  it is banning all large cruise ships that carry more than 100 people until Oct 31, 2020.  Again we suspect that will not be the last we hear.

The Miami Herald reports that since June 23, some 1,000 cruise ship crew members have developed either confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus while living aboard mostly empty ships waiting off the U.S. coast.  Click here for the video from the Miami Herald  (external link).

Although this is a disappointment for passengers, it is an absolute tragedy for many crew members.  These men and women are often from impoverished countries and rely on earnings to help support their families back home.  While quarantined  in port, they are not receiving any pay…and in many cases they are not able to return to their home countries.  It is a nightmare scenario.

We would hope there might be some way to help these crew members….and we would like to hear from you if you have any information or are aware of any organized efforts to help them financially.  We’d be happy to post it on our site.  Of course, your prayers should come first.

Find out about cruises for Catholics on our cruise page.

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Youth Festival in Medjugorje is NOT CANCELLED

The International Prayer Encounter of the Youth -(Youth Festival) is an annual event held in Medjugorje  each year that attracts upwards of 100,000 young people.  Scheduled for August 1-6, it was cancelled and now is back on.

The theme of this year’s prayer encounter is “Come, and you will see“ (John 1, 39).

It will be much different from the Youth Festivals of the past due, of course, to the Covid-19 epidemic.  ….Many programs of the international spiritual retreats have been cancelled

Most of the program from Medjugorje is being now sent to the world via electronic media so that people can tune in from wherever they might be.  This year’s Youth Festival will be live streamed online. Depending on the development of virus, all gatherings would be according to the instructions of the institutions in charge.

Let us continue to be united in the same spirit in the school of Our Lady and let us rejoice that we would be connected together in Medjugorje, both in our hearts and in our spirit.

There will be challenges, especially regarding visitors from the U.S.A.  Certain restrictions by the European Union are limiting…and almost forbidding…entrance to the E.U.  See our blog post here.

There are some loopholes, so if you are traveling with a group check to see what arrangements have been made.

You can visit the official website for the Youth Festival here.