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European Travel Ban hits U.S. travelers hard

Effective July 1, all non-essential travel from the U.S.A. to the European Union’s 27 member states has been banned.  There are only a few exceptions, and these will probably not apply to you.

Note that the ban is based on residency……not citizenship. Someone arriving from the U.S., who is a citizen or resident in the EU–or in one of the countries listed below, can enter.

Also banned are residents of Brazil, Russia and India.



The following 27 countries are members of the European Union:



Residents of the following countries that are not members of the E.U. are allowed entry:

New Zealand
South Korea
China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity)

Just to add to the confusion, each country will determine its own specific way of enforcing the ban.  It is not known how long this ban will be in effect, but obviously it will spoil most travel plans for the summer and probably in to the fall.

And, as usual, everything keeps changing, so we will do our best to keep you updated.

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Miracle Approved….Carlo Acutis one step closer to Sainthood

According to the Vatican News Service, on February 21, 2020, PopeFrancis received His Most Reverend Eminence Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the same Congregation to promulgate the Decrees concerning a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Carlo Acutis.  This young man, who died at age 15 had an amazing devotion to the Eucharist and detailed Eucharistic Miracles throughout the world.  He is buried in Assisi.

The miracle involved the healing of a Brazilian child suffering from a rare congenital anatomic anomaly of the pancreas in 2013. The Medical Council of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes gave a positive opinion of the miracle in November 2019.

With Pope Francis’ approval of the miracle, Carlo Acutis can now be beatified (declared Blessed)…one step closer to Sainthood.

The Beatrification will take place on October 10, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

You can read more about him here.

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Rome is gradually opening up

Slowly, Rome is opening back up!!

It has been a surreal experience for those living in Rome these past few months:  no throngs of tourists, no lines to get in to Saint Peter’s or the Vatican Museums, no public Masses….something most of us never thought we would see.  Fortunately, the city has begun to relax its restrictions, which is good news for those who live there….but also for those who wish to visit “The Eternal City”.

Public Masses:  The Italian government had banned attendance at Masses in early March, part of its prohibition on gatherings as it sought to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Most of Italy’s churches have remained open during the pandemic, but only for individual prayer.  Public Masses can resume on May 18, but under strict conditions outlined in a protocol signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian Bishops Conference.

Each pastor will determine the maximum number of people who can fit in a church while staying at least a 3 feet apart.

If necessary, additional Masses can be held, rather than allowing more people into the church for one service, the protocol says.

The faithful will have to wear masks in church. Priests can celebrate most of the Mass without masks but they will have to wear one, as well as gloves, when they distribute Holy Communion.

For now, choirs are not allowed and holy water fonts will remain dry.


The Vatican Museums:  The Vatican Museums, which have been closed since March 9,  will soon be reopened to the public, while following the safety guidelines prescribed by Italian and Vatican health officials. They will be accessible only by reservation, and no large groups will be admitted at this time..

The museum is installing thermoscanners for temperature readings of all visitors, so obviously your temperature will have to be normal.

It’s not ideal, but at least it is a step in the right direction, and it is welcome news to those who plan to travel to Rome this summer and fall……and welcome news for the tour companies that will take them there.


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Crown of Thorns Meditation Live from Paris

The archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, has announced that he will lead a Good Friday meditation featuring the Crown of Thorns in an event that will be broadcast on television as well as the internet.  The Crown of Thorns is one of the treasures of Notre Dame Cathedral, and escaped destruction during the fire earlier this year.

Due to the coronavirrus lockdown in Paris, the Archbishop was unable to organize a march of the relic through the city, so this will take its place.


You can view this event live on the website of France’s Catholic television station, KTO, on Good Friday, April 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. local time.


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No..the Miraculous Crucifix in Rome did Not Explode

When Pope Francis gave his “Urbi et Orbi”  blessing in an empty Saint Peter’s Square on March 27, 2020,  it was viewed the world over.

Pope Francis venerates the Miraculous Crucifix...photo credit Catholic News Agency
Pope Francis venerates the Miraculous Crucifix…photo credit Catholic News Agency

Present there on that rainy night was the miraculous crucifix from the Church of San Marcello al Corso in Rome.

That same crucifix had  miraculously survived a fire in 1519 that destroyed the original church and everything else inside.  Then, when a plague ravaged the city in 1522,  the crucifix was carried in a solemn penitential procession that lasted 16 days.   The procession, led by a Spanish Cardinal named Raimondo Vich, included clergy, noblemen and everyday people of Rome. The plague ended right after that.

A few days after Pope Francis gave his blessing, rumors spread that due to the crucifix being exposed to the rain the day of the blessing, it had “exploded” or “suffered irreparable damage”.  This was not true.  It did, in fact, suffer some water damage…but nothing severe.  The Catholic News Agency reports that Fr. Enrico Maria Casini, who is in charge of San Marcello al Corso in Rome, has said the damage to the miraculous crucifix from rain “is not serious,” from what he understands, and it is expected to be returned to the Church of San Marcello al Corso by Easter.

We are saddened that some “traditional Catholic” websites are so eager to publish sensationalized news..sometimes we feel that they will do anything to put Pope Francis in a bad light…that they print anything without bothering to get the facts..SHAME ON THEM.

While we may not agree…or understand…all the actions that take place under Pope Francis’ pontificate, we do not presume to pass judgement, nor do we publish un-substantiated rumors.

Here at the Catholic Travel Guide we try our best to verify any items that we post, and if we cannot verify the facts, we don’t just throw it out there.  We expect the same from other sources as well.


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Free showing of movie about Our Lady of Garabandal during Holy Week

The apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the remote village of Garabandal, Spain are covered on our page here at the Catholic Travel Guide. A movie has been made about these apparitions titled  “Garabandal: Only God Knows”.

When the coronavirus first reached Europe in early 2020, the Garabandal movie was playing in theaters in France. It had already premiered in 29 countries and had been seen by almost 300,000 people. More than 10,000 people had already seen it in France alone and many more were expected to fill the theaters during the scheduled screenings in the months of March and April.

All of this was canceled when the theaters were forced to close due to the coronavirus. They also had to postpone the premieres planned for the month of March in Singapore, Switzerland and Australia, and during April in the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Portugal, and Holland.

The producers of the movie have announced that from April 3-12, 2020; that is, from the Friday before Holy Week through Easter Sunday, “Garabandal: Only God Knows” will be available for viewing online free of charge both in Spanish and English on the film’s official webpage: https://www.garabandalthemovie.com

It will be available in all countries, except for the following countries, where they hope to premiere in the near future in movie theaters: Canada, Singapore, Holland, Brazil, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, and Belgium.

You can also view it beforehand through Amazon Prime.

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Not all churches are closed…Our Lady of La Leche Shrine remains open

The famous Mission of Nombre de Dios…..the first shrine in the United States dedicated to Our Blessed Mother, under devotion to Our Lady of La Leche (Our Lady of the Milk) goes back to a 4th Century Grotto in Jerusalem.

The devotion spread in the middle ages, particularly after the Crusaders came back from the Holy Land. The wife of a nobleman, expected to die during the birth of her child, was reportedly spared due to the intercession of Our Lady of La Leche. More particularly she was given the title “Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery”.

The devotion became widespread throughout Europe and then brought to the “New World” by the Spanish explorers, who founded the city of Saint Augustine, Florida in 1565,

It was here that the first Mass was celebrated on U.S. soil.

The Shrine and Mission grounds and the Historic Chapel here in Saint Augustine, Florida are remaining open during the coronavirus epidemic. there will be no public Masses, but their priests are available to hear confessions by appointment. You can contact them at [email protected]

The Shrine will be open from 12:00pm – 4:00pm daily.

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The Oberammergau Passion Play CANCELLED for 2020..postponed to 2022

For only the second time since its first performance in 1634, the Oberammergau Passion Play, scheduled for 2020, has been cancelled.

Only two days ago we posted the news that the district administration of Garmisch-Partenkirchen (where Oberammergau is located) had prohibited the opening performance of the play originally planned for May 16, 2020. This was due to the current extremely troubling situation caused by the corona pandemic.

The officials postponed the opening to May 21, just 5 days later.

Now we’ve received word that the play has been totally cancelled by the local government and moved to 2022.

We find this ironic, since the play had its origins in 1632, when local villagers promised to put on the play if God would spare them from the plague that was currently ravaging the area. The village was spared, and the play has been performed every 10 years since then  (with the exception of 1940, when the play was cancelled due to World War II).  Unfortunately we have to add another exception: the year 2020.


This will undoubtedly be a blow to many travel companies, and a great disappointment to those who planned to attend.  We need to pray for those who work for these travel companies as they scramble to help people re-book or get refunds.  There is a great description of this effort on Select International Tours home page.





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Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes to be closed for an indefinite period

On March 17, 2020, it was announced that for the first time in its history, that  the sanctuary of Lourdes will be closed for an indefinite period. 

Procession of the sick in LourdesNo public Masses will be offered in the sanctuary due to national measures announced by French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron on the evening of March 16.

Such a move is truly historic, but certainly not un-expected.  We remain optimistic that the Coronavirus will be contained in France and elsewhere and that by late summer Lourdes….and most other shrines….will once again be open to visitors.

You can check our page on Lourdes for updates to the situation.