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Paris: Notre Dame Christmas Eve midnight Mass cancelled for first time in over 200 years

Notre Dame has celebrated Christmas Eve Midnight Mass for over two centuries…..being closed only during the French revolution.  Due to the fire earlier this year, obviously that is not possible this year.

But the midnight Mass will be moved and celebrated at the beautiful Church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois.  This beautiful church is one of the “hidden gems” of Paris and we are happy to hear that the Mass will be celebrated there this year.

You can find out more about the Church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois here.

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Rosa Mystica shrine gets official status

It has been announced that the Shrine of Our Lady of Montichiari in Italy will be named a Diocesan Shrine on December 7, 2019.  Montichari is the site of the reported apparitions of the Blessed Mother from 1947 through 1966, appearing as Our Lady of Rosa Mystica.

Originally opposed by the local Bishop,  the shrine nevertheless drew thousands of pilgrims….and many healings have been reported.

The current Bishop of Brescia will be dedicating Rosa Mystica-Mother of the Church Diocesan Shrine, on December 7, 2019.

You can read all about the apparitions and the Shrine of Our Lady of the Mystical Rose here.

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New additions…and some corrections….to The Catholic Travel Guide

Thank you to our readers!!

It is impossible for us to cover all the places of interest to Catholics….so we want to say a BIG THANK YOU to all our readers who help us out.

We have quite a few new pages that cover some places we did not know existed, so thanks to those who wrote in to tell us about them.

And one major correction….we always like those, because sometimes we are wrong…and other times things change and we need to update our information.

One major correction:

One church in Rome…the church of St. Alphonsus Ligouri…is noted for having the original painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help hanging over the altar.  We described the church as rather plain and un-inspiring….which it was, on our visit.  We thought it was such a shame that this famous image was hanging in a rather plain church.  But what we did not realize was that is was undergoing some restoration, and so with the scaffoliding and coverings over just about everything but the image, and we did not get to see what a beautiful church that it actually is.  Fortunately, one of our readers corrected us...and sent us photos as well.  We think you will agree that this is one of Rome’s most beautiful churches.

Here are just a few of the new locations that were recommended by our readers:

Columbus, Ohio:  Jubilee Museum; Shrine of Blessed Margaret of Castello

Fort Mitchell, Alabama: Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat

Greenville, S.C. Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church

Pinner, London, U.K. SEC Youth Retreat Center for Young People

Waverly, Nebraska: Knights of the Holy Eucharist (founded by Mother Angelica)

Waverly, Nebraska:  Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House


Have any suggestons for The Catholic Travel Guide?

We thank all those who help with suggestions…and corrections!  Our goal is to help all Catholics with their travel plans whether near or far.  If you have any recommendations or suggestions for us, please email [email protected]


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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.  We have been confused ourselves, and finally want to let you know the real story.

There have been some mis-leading posts and emails as to how one can get the plenary indulgence as a result of the Great Pardon of Assisi….not their fault, because, as we said….there is a lot of confusion.


We want to give you the exact details:

The great pardon of Assisi cannot be obtained at just any parish church, as some websites have reported.  It is confusing, but after a great deal of research we have the actual conditions here.  Taken directly from the Saint Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati, Ohio, here is the straight scoop:

However, it is now possible to receive the indulgence at all the parish churches in Assisi…….and at all Franciscan churches throughout the world, when meeting the conditions of Communion, Confession and praying for the Pope’s intentions“.

Our guess is that if there is no Franciscan church in your area, then you cannot receive the Great Pardon of Assisi.  If we find out differently we will let you know.

Please help spread the word so that those wishing to get the Great Pardon of Assisi will know where to go.

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

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August 1st & 2nd The Great Pardon of Assisi

About the Great Pardon of Assisi:

From the evening of August 1st until sundown on August 2nd each year, you may take part in the Great Pardon of Assisi.

Origin of the Great Pardon of Assisi:

When Jesus and the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Francis in the year 1216 in the tiny Portuincula (the chapel he built) Jesus asked Francis what he wanted for the salvation of souls. Francis humbly replied that he would like to obtain a plenary indulgence (elimination of temporal punishment due to sin) for all those who entered the Portuincula. who were truly contrite and had confessed their sins.

Up to this point in history there were only three such places to receive a plenary indulgence:  the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or the shrine of Saint James the Great in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.  Such journeys were beyond the reach of most people in Italy, where Saint Francis was, and that is why he made that specific request.

Jesus granted him this wish but stipulated he should first present his request to the Pope.  He obtained approval from Pope Honorius III in 1216 and this came to be known as the Portuincula Indulgence, or the Great Pardon of Assisi. 


You can obtain the Plenary Indulgence of Assisi by doing the following:

If you happen to be in Assisi on August 1st or 2nd,  you can also earn this pardon for yourself or for any departed.

It is now possible to receive the indulgence at any church in Assisi as well as all Franciscan churches throughout the world when you meet the conditions as shown below.

There is some confusion…so be careful what you read on some websites.  Some have stated your local parish church, that is not correct….it is actually any church in Assisi or any Franciscan church worldwide.

The conditions to obtain the Plenary Indulgence of the Forgiveness of Assisi, as it is properly called, are as follows:

 1.  Sacramental Confession within 8 days either before or after visiting the Portuincuca or any Franciscan Church in Assisi or anywhere else in the world.

2.  Participation in Holy Mass and Eucharist.

3.  Recitation of the Apostles Creed, Our Father, and a prayer for the Holy Father’s intention.

The Portiuncula or Tiny Portion inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels AssisiThe Portuincula is now inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels at the foot of the town of Assisi.

Almost all tours stop here either on the way to Assisi or upon leaving.  The Basilica is immense and the Portuincula is actually inside the Basilica.  As you can see here, it is quite small but open to visitors.

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Father Augustus Tolton moves one step closer to Sainthood


Augustus Tolton from slave to priest by Dcn Harold Burke-Sivers
Get this great book by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers

A former slave, he obtained his freedom and was baptized and reared Catholic.  He went on to study formally in Rome and was ordained on Easter Sunday of 1886 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, thereby becoming the first native born Black Catholic priest in the U.S.

Although he wanted to become a missionary in Africa, he was sent back to the U.S., and so in a way he did become a missionary……but not in the way he had planned (God does like to ruin our plans, doesn’t He?).

Assigned to a parish in Quincy, Illinois, where his dynamic preaching he attracted worshippers from all parts of the city, both black and white.  He overcame many obstacles in his priesthood….most notably from some of his fellow priests, who were jealous of his popularity.

With the promulgation of the decree of heroic virtue, Servant of God Augustus Tolton is granted the title “Venerable”.

The next stage in the “causes” would be beatification, where he would be proclaimed “Blessed”, followed ultimately by canonization, when he will hopefully be Saint Augustus Tolton.

You can read more about him and where to find his grave here.

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Holy Stairs in Rome to re-open on April 11

Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs in RomeThe Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs….housing the marble steps that Jesus climbed, leading up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem on His way to trial.

The frescoes and paintings on the walls had been dirtied through centuries of use, and were in need of restoration.

Beginning early last year, the Sanctuary was closed to allow the restoration to take place.


They are now restored to their formal glory, and the Sanctuary has been open to the public beginning April 11, 2019.  They will remain uncovered until June 30, 2019, when they will again be covered.

The steps themselves were covered with wood with slots in them so that pilgrims could view the steps as they climbed to the top (usually on their knees).

They are now un-covered…and for the next month pilgrims can climb up the actual steps without the wood covering.

You can read more at Catholic News Service (CNS)

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Notre Dame Cathedral in Flames

On March 15, 2019 a fire broke out in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  From early reports, it was feared it might be a total loss, but reports are that the Treasury was saved, which included priceless relics such as The Crown of Thorns.

Still….for the French it is the loss of a national treasure, and for Catholics everywhere it is sad to see a Cathedral that has survived wars and resurrections now in ruins.

The Cathedral has been under construction and could easily have been started by workmen….so before the rumor mill starts flying (and, yes there have been Catholic Church desecrations if France this year) let’s just pray for the firefighters and then wait for a conclusion as to the cause of the fire.


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Air France Returns to Dallas/Fort Worth

Air France flights from DFWAlthough a major hub, the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport has not had any non-stop flights to Paris via the country’s carrier, Air France (other than a brief period right before 9/11).

American Airlines offers non-stop service to Paris, and has for several years.  With their connections from many other U.S. cities in the Southwest, they are a good choice for travel to Paris.

However, if you were connecting to other French cities it was often thought more convenient to fly on Air France. Unfortunately you either had to connect through Atlanta (using Delta, Air France’s partner) or drive south to Houston to take Air France non-stop to Paris.

Beginning March 31, 2019, Air France began offering three flights a week (Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays) until June 30, when they will expand to five flights per week (daily except Tuesday and Thursday). Then after the summer, they will go back to three flights weekly from September 4 through October 25. The airline will drop back to thrice-weekly service from Sept. 4 through Oct. 25.

After that, we don’t know if they will continue service from DFW….it will naturally depend upon the traffic they get during what is apparently a trial period.

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Fake News: U.S. & Canadian citizens traveling to Europe do not need a visa

Recently some new reports stated that, starting in 2021, U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling to Europe would require a visa.  Before you panic, please note that this is not the case:

For U.S. citizens traveling to Europe in 2021 and beyond, the will simply have to complete an online application and pay a small fee through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), a pre-screening program that aims to protect European Union (EU) borders.  Americans and other non-EU travelers can still travel to Europe without a visa for up to 90 days as long as they complete their form in the ETIAS before travel

ETIAS costs about $9.00 U.S. and you can do it in less than ten minutes, according to a fact sheet issued by the European Commission in July.  It calls  the ETIAS “a necessary and small procedural step for all visa-exempt travelers” that would help them “avoid bureaucracy and delays when presenting themselves at the border.”

The ETIAS will be required for any of the territories in the Schengen area of Europe — 26 countries that are part of the E.U. It is valid for three years, (or less if a passport expires before then).  Do not confuse the Schengen countries with the European Union…not all countries are in the E.U.

The Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland,  Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,  Switzerland.

This is a far less difficult and certainly less expensive than applying for a visa.

You can find out more information on their official website here (external link).  You will also find a list of the 61 countries whose residents will need to get the ETIAS authorization.