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Tom & Sue Day 5 in Poland: Our Lady of Lichen Stary

Jane Dobry;

We slept from 8:30 last night to 7 AM and I didn’t hear a sound or move a muscle. Susan was awakened at 5 AM from the church bells that played a long melody but she managed to go back to sleep. We had breakfast downstairs in our jammies, and after we showered, we finished packing and loaded the car. We met a young polish man that could speak English and we had a 20 minute conversation with him, we were starved from lack of speaking English for so long with anyone here.  A few words is all we could muster out of people being in rather remote areas.

We had the whole day ahead of us and only a short stop planned right near our 2 night apartment stay so we decided to go to our next day Shrine instead.  It is only 45 kilometers from our hotel.

The Miraculous shrine was Our Lady of Lichen Stary and we knew it was famous, but never expected what we saw.  It was massive and magnificent and the most incredible spiritual experience either of us have ever had…….  I’ll get to that in a minute.

We entered thru the main entrance and the church of St. Dorothy is at the top of the stairs.  Even though it is small, it houses the Sacred and Miraculous Madonna Icon, whose intercession is credited with many healings.

Click here for the story of Our Lady of Lichen

We spent some time there praying and then needed to find what church had the 12 noon mass. The grounds were massive and we checked the large map in the garden.  The sign said the Basilica so we headed that way and realized that the enormous building we saw coming in was it.  Susan thought it might have been a Mosque! LOL

You have to see the photos (and there are many) because I couldn’t explain it all and do it justice.  The walk took 20 minutes so that’s about a mile for the old shrine grounds. As the structure comes in to view you realize how massive and beautifully done it is. It was designed after the Vatican and is the 7th Largest Basilica in Europe.  When we finally entered the main Basilica words cannot describe it.  It seats 20,000 people (and every detail is absolutely incredible). This was a far cry from our first shrine in Poland, where Fr. Mirek told us he had 600 parishioners.

We took a couple of photos as we took our seat as Mass was about to begin.  We got kicked out of the pew because some school kids came, so we moved to another pew to allow them to sit together.  The teacher was happy with us.

Three Priests con-celebrated the Mass which was also a First Holy Communion Mass for about 80 children.  Going to Communion took a while to get up to the Altar and we were only about ¼ of the way back from the front of the Altar. There were Ushers who did the Collection and they had a Surplice on over their clothes.  They began the collection at the Offertory and they finished right before Communion began … I’ll bet their feet hurt at night.

After Mass, the three Priests knelt in reverence before the Tabernacle.  Above the Tabernacle in a large picture frame there was what appeared to be a Relic on a bright red cloth that filled the frame.  As the Priests knelt they were praying and as the music played a picture of one of the Miracles of Our Lady began to slowly ascend and cover the large area of the Relic … it was absolutely breathtaking.

The music from the Organ, which has organ pipes throughout the Basilica, was beautiful. Tom Wilcoxson, our Music Director at our Cathedral would love to have this masterpiece as his own.  The only problem with that is that there would be no seats/pews left in the Cathedral after the massive Organ and accompanying piping was installed.


When the Liturgy was over, Susan and I explored every nook, Side Altar and even got to walk behind the Altar along with others.

There are two main Side Chapels in the Basilica on both sides of the structure.  The first one we entered was the Chapel of Saint Faustina and Divine Mercy.  What we saw and experienced inside this Chapel has forever changed our lives.  The depiction of Jesus Christ above the Altar was like none we have ever seen.  We walked up to the front pew and sat so as to get as close as we could and we both  just sat there in complete silence and stared at it.

The Divine Mercy side altar
The Divine Mercy side chapel

When the few others in the Chapel departed, Susan and I decided to Pray our Divine Mercy Chaplet for the day even though it was long before 3:00 P.M.  There were only three of us in this Chapel … Susan … myself … and Jesus  … for His presence was so very prevalent that we cannot put it into words.  We both felt Him right there with us during our Prayers …and neither knew what the other was experiencing until after as tears of happiness and gratitude to Our Lord fell from both of our eyes during the entire time we were Praying our Chaplet.  We were absolutely mesmerized by Him … by His eyes … but mostly by his Love and Wisdom which filled our hearts and minds as we prayed. We got closer to Him as never before.

When we finally pulled ourselves away after others began to enter the Chapel, it was very difficult for us to leave. We went to the other side to visit the other Chapel dedicated to our Lady of Lichen which is another beautiful tribute to Our Mother and  we left the Chapel and Basilica to walk the grounds and all the two of us could talk about for a long time was the experiences we had just had in the Chapel of Divine Mercy. Again the Mother gave us her Son in a special way, something She had also done for me in another way at San Sebastian de Garabandal the first time we went there.

This had been such a magnificent day for us and we decided that we had to return to this Shrine again tomorrow since there was much more to see and another chance to Pray with Jesus and Our Blessed Mother once again at this Sacred Site. We decided that there was no better place to be on the First Saturday of the Month than at the Basilica of Lichen-Stary.

Our check-in time at our apartment in Slupca, Poland was around 3:00 P.M.  We called and, somehow, communicated with the owner that we were running late, which was not a problem for her.  We arrived around 3:30 P.M. after an 1 ½ hour drive from Lichen-Stary.  I think both of us were still “walking on air” from our experiences of the day and we had no problem completely unloading the Jag of all of our luggage to try to re-organize ourselves for the next 5-6 days of our journey.

I went to the supermarket while Susan unpacked.  We needed some food, wine and daily staples.  We had decided to stay in at the apartment for the evening, have a light dinner and to just try to relax and get some personal work done.

Holding down the washing machine to keep it from running away!
Holding down the washing machine to keep it from running away!

If you follow Susan on Facebook at all, you will have seen the video Susan posted of our experience with the small wash machine jumping around the bathroom in our apartment and me trying to hold it down so that it wouldn’t break and our clothes would get somewhat dry before hanging them outside.  The two of us shared incredible stomach cramps from laughing so hard … and this was followed by my experience of trying to iron on an ironing board fit for dwarf.

Smallest ironing board I have ever seen
Smallest ironing board I have ever seen

We ate dinner around 10 (late for us) and by 11 we went to bed since we had to get up at 4:30 to return to Lichen. We planned to attend the 7 AM mass in St. Dorothy’s church with the Miraculous Madonna.  I set the alarm and hoped for the best because we were so over tired and elated we didn’t even know if we would sleep.  I’ll let you know tomorrow.  Good night!

God Bless you all


Susan & Tom



O Blessed Faith, fill my mind and heart and will.  O Blessed Hope, allow me to hope against all hope.  O Blessed Love, Holy is Your Name.  Jesus is Love.  Jesus is God.  Blessed be the Name of Jesus, King and Forever Lord of my Heart.  Blessed be Jesus, the Way and the Truth and the Life.  Blessed be the Paths of God Forever.  Amen.




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Tom & Sue Pilgrimage Day 3 in Poland: Our Lady of Gietrzwald

Jane Dobry;

We had a glorious sleep and didn’t get up until after 8.  We wore our PJ’s today to breakfast, this place felt like home, and enjoyed eggs, fresh veggie salads, meats and cheeses and array of other things we weren’t sure what they were. We finished with coffee on the patio and then we showered, packed and said go-bye.  We could have spent a couple days here it was so nice. Tonight we have a very different type of house to stay at……Susan will be surprised!!

Germany owned this part of Poland for 100 years until 1945, so there is a strong German influence and presence.  A lot of the people we met where here come searching their roots out.  The owner of the hotel and all the other guest were German.  That’s probably why I didn’t recognize some of the food on the table in those little jars.

Today we were going to Our Lady of Gietrzwald about 1 ½ hours away.  Traveling was pretty much the same as yesterday, good roads but plenty of small towns and the speed limit goes from 90 to 70 to 40 in 30 feet.  As much as I love the GPS, I had to shut off the voice speed warning.  If I was 5 km over the limit I would get yelled at and she never shut up, plus I was always over the limit……Jag wanted to run.

We parked right on the grounds at the shrine…….so close to everything we thought.  We went to the Sanctuary first.  Where the main apparitions happened is right in front of the Sanctuary.  We couldn’t go there first since the was a first Holy Communion group down there getting some last minute lessons.  In the Sanctuary the place was full mostly with old style nuns dressed in black habits that I remember as a kid.  I shuddered, since the arthritis in my knuckles came from them from all the ruler whacks I got. They were in the middle of the Rosary so we quietly snuck out. I didn’t want to take the chance.

The gift shop was right there so we went shopping for a memory for our curio cabinet.  I think we are going to have to get another after this trip. A few Zolty later we went back to the church and sat way in the back. They were still there!  During the mass though I must say they sang beautifully  and after the Liturgy was over the sisters stayed in their seats praying. Time for coffee we will get pictures after.

We had café across from the pilgrim hotel and then went in to use the toaleta and as we left I opened the door to go out and they were there all 100 of them. I stood back and held the door for them.  I gave my best smile, as I started to sweat.  A few gave me a scornful look but most of them smiled and calmed my nerves. Finally they all got in and I needed air.  We saw a sign that we thought would take us to the miraculous healing spring that Our Lady created some in 1877 for sick people.

We walked down and around this beautiful Rosary path so we prayed our Rosary on the way stopping at each depiction. The spring was way down at the end and it was very peaceful as we went.  The last Glorious Mystery was at the end, and 200 ft from the spring, but there were sisters there and as I looked around more were coming, probably 100.  When we got to the spring, three Sisters were filling a dozen bottles, the others were coming fast and I wanted to get in and out.  Susan got to go down as the 3 left and I took a pic, my turn now but it was too late.  Three more got to the well and I froze and then motioned them to go saying please in my best Polish.  I held on to my only bottle hoping they could fill there 9 bottles before a line began. It didn’t happen and the lined formed but they insisted I go first. I filled my bottle and thanked them and Susan and I departed back up the path and as we passed the sisters still coming we would smile and say hello.  Most of them did the same. A little braver now I took a pic of this smiling sister on her cell phone.  When she saw me do it she looked guilty like I shouldn’t be doing this here.  I smiled and held out my hand and whacked it a few times and she burst out laughing.  No more fear, even though she was one of them.

There is a beautiful Way of the Cross here that we wanted to do, but the weather was iffy, cold and always threatening rain and doing so every so often.  So we went back to the church for some photos and to light a candle and spend some time enjoying the frescoes, painting and statues.  It is really a very beautiful church.  Before we left we went to the site of the apparition but only could stay for a few minutes as a group from the high school were there and the priest came to talk to them.  So we left.

We had spent 4 hours here and it was time to go.  We  couldn’t check-in to our Pensjonat (bed minus breakfast) for an hour so we went to the supermarket for food and supplies.  We got baked chicken, some salad, cheese, pate, fresh turkey breast and good bread.  We were getting hungry.  This 2 meals a day routine isn’t bad but don’t go past 10 hours.

We made our way to our lodgings and as we turned in the road Susan let out a little gasp. Quietly She took some photos as we made our way thru this not-so-lovely drive way.  When we pulled up to the house  she goes “this is quaint“.  It had to be a 200 year farm house but was very charming.  If you are hoity- toyti, this place isn’t for you.  It was an experience……..and the room was almost perfect for sleeping, plus we had the downstairs lounge, kitchen and dining room to use. We opened a bottle of wine and sat on the patio out in the middle of nowhere, totally quiet except for the horse in the paddock.  We then had dinner and as Susan cleaned up I began to write.

Finished by 10 we went up to bed.  Unfortunately Susan had to take the sleeper sofa and I was in the small double in the next room. I fell to sleep with the sound of the wind howling thru the trees and the house creaking.

Good Night

God Bless all of you


Susan & Tom




Spiritual Mother, I gladly give you my family, especially my body.  Teach me to guard my body, this temple in which I must dwell while I trod the paths of this Earth.  Spiritual Mother, Mother of Divine Wisdom, explain to me the mysteries of the Earth. How shall I work today?  How shall I dine today?  How shall I exercise today?  How shall I preserve relationships I treasure?  How shall I accomplish the drams and longings that fill my mind and body?  Impart your wisdom to me.  Thank you for taking care of me.  I have not yet developed eyes and ears that know Truth.  If, today, you hear His voice calling to me, please ask God to call and call until I hear and respond, “Speak Lord.  Your servant listens.”



The Memorial of Our Lady of Gietrzwald is celebrated on September 8.


Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Gietrzwald
by Andrzej Samulowski

It was just the sunset,
When the wonderful brilliant star
Arose in the Warmian land
To shed light with its rays.
This news almost by a miracle
Was spread among the people,
Far and near, they would say:
In Warmia, there are new miracles.

Traditional Prayer

Mother of Our Lord, healer of human souls and bodies, Lady of Giettrzwald, you who blessed this place with your presence, please turn your loving eyes toward me and ask your son Jesus Christ for the favors I am in need of [mention request]. Compassionate and merciful Virgin Mother, I am forever yours


May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!

Tom & Susan Melillo


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Tom & Sue pilgrimage: Day 2 in Poland Our Lady of Swieta Lipka

Jane Dobry:

We had a pretty good night sleep and didn’t make it to breakfast until almost nine. We couldn’t go down in our PJ’s, as we usually try to do; it was too nice a place. After a great breakfast with eggs and you name it, I paid the bill, ($44 for the room included breakfast) we loaded the Jag, it’s not a car anymore, and headed out for our next stop, Swieta Lipka, a miraculous apparition site of Our Lady and it is also called “Czestochowa of the North”, after the most famous Marian shrine in Poland.

The ride was around a 1 ½ hours and it was beautiful. We traveled thru forests and valleys full with lakes. Jag responded well on the tight winding roads. She was a joy to drive. (Did I tell you that Susan loves this car?)

We caught a glimpse of the shrine from the road and it was spectacular, again from a Baroque influence. There were busses there and it was busy but we managed to find a parking spot almost in front and not ½ mile away. There were lots of groups coming and going and a lot of young children, which was so nice to see.

We had a cup of coffee before going into the Minor Basilica for a great surprise. The place was packed with a couple tour groups and we had to stand but didn’t mind since we could move around and see all the treasures within.

Our surprise was this group had a concert scheduled and we were not there for 5 minutes when the beautiful music began. I had tears rolling down my cheeks when she played the Ave Maria, it was heavenly. Susan took a video for the sound and posted it on Facebook. (She got lots of comments). The music ended and this very young Sister came out and took a bow, she was the organist and she was amazing.

I took quite a few pics especially of the spot where the tree and the miracles began. The statue in the tree depicts the one carved by the convict on death row. (Click here for the story of Our Lady of Swieta Lipka).

We lit candles and, as always, they were for all of your intentions and during the homilies (which we can’t understand) at mass we read and re-read them and pray for them during the mass and our Rosary.

Editors note: You can still add your intentions, since they will be traveling in Poland for another 3 weeks. Just email them to TSMelillo13@aol.com. They will also put you on their mailing list if you wish.

The tour group left and another came in for the noon Mass but this time we managed to get seats. The music continued with this awesome choir before, during and after the Liturgy. This place was truly mesmerizing.

When it all ended we when out for a breather and stopped in the gift shop for a couple of memento’s and 2 special gifts we needed to get. We wanted to pray our Rosary here and we went back to the Basilica since there seemed to be a pause in the groups coming and going. We sat in the back pew with only a few people around and began to pray. We got thru 2 decades when the doors burst open and this group of very young and noisy kids came in. We smiled since they all seemed nervous and excited.

We gave up our seat and found this 2 seater box in the very back and continued our Prayers. The noise subsided after the priest began to talk. A few minutes later we finished the last two decades to the concert music once again. This time as we finished I think we both had tears running down our faces as the music to the Ave Maria accompanied us out the door. What a very spiritual day it was.

We left for our B&B and a surprise for Susan. I turned into this very small side road and the turned into this long driveway and stopped so Susan could get the full effect. (See Photos) She goes you have got to be kidding and I laughed as we drove up to the beautiful Mansion. There was no penance tonight at this house. The place was stunning and we took full advantage of our time here relaxing outside front and back and enjoying the vista’s and sipping on a glass of wine. It was so peaceful we didn’t want to leave but we were hungry, since our last meal was almost 10 hours ago.

We drove to the closest town that our host suggested which borders a huge lake. We tried to find something on the water but that was impossible so we drove to the center of town, parked and walked to several nice places but none of them opened for an hour. Hungry and getting tired, Susan said let’s eat there, a small bistro style restaurant. It didn’t look promising. We ordered dinner with the help of the waitress and her phone and then ordered a glass of wine but they don’t serve it so we had water.

It didn’t take too long for the food to arrive and I fired her from picking out restaurants. After we ate I gave her the job back, the food was as good as any restaurant I have been in. It was freshly homemade and the sauce on the pork loin was superb. I could not have made it better myself. There wasn’t a drop left on our plates and we were comfortably full. I paid the tab and freaked out the waitress with a 25% tip. Big spender right? Without tip it was $12.50, the water was expensive. Did I ever tell you I love Poland?

Satisfied we returned to the Mansion for a glass of wine and a trip report and more organizing for the next day. It was such a beautiful day we hated to see it end. Two days into the unknown and all was well.

Time for bed have a blessed day and if you have any more intentions please send them anytime as well as an e-mail to say hi cause we miss you.

God Bless you all,

Love Susan & Tom


O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him.

Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, He has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.

Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore … Especially (STATE YOUR INTENTIONS HERE), through Christ our Lord. Amen.




Mary, help me to hear your gentle, loving voice.  Carry me in your arms to God as you carried Jesus.  Be with me consciously in my times of unknowing.  Turn every dark moment into treasures of trust in God who is the Resurrection of all my dreams and longings.  Sing to me of God’s Love in the sweet melodies of your constant, affirming, loving presence.  Help me transcend the limits of space and time now and dwell consciously with God forever.  Amen.

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Tom & Sue pilgrimage: Day 1 in Poland: Glotowo

Editor’s Note:  Tom & Sue Melillo have just spent 7 days in Spain and now will travel through Poland for over three weeks before ending their 2017 “personal Pilgrimage on June 22.  We hope you will follow along and enjoy.


Dzien dobry:

Our new venture starts today and we have no idea what to expect.  We got up at 3:45 AM and just made it down stairs for the 5 AM shuttle for our 7 AM flight.  We did manage to have a cup of espresso with the machine in the room.  This was a very nice hotel.

At the airport our check-in counter was around a corner and when we got around it there had to be 300 people in line to check-in.  Have no fear, I booked us business class and we had a separate check-in line with only one person in front of us. Even flying business class here is cheaper than flying at home.  With all the perks our 2 tickets for the 3 ½ hour flight was only $240.

Things were going well until we realized we were at the wrong gate, since no plane or people were there.  They had changed it right after we checked in.  I guess all the people in line knew where to go.  The plane was big and full but we had the front 3 seats with plenty of leg room.  The seat was another story since I had trouble getting my butt in it. I was so squeezed in I had trouble getting my seat belt across and buckled but managed.  Thank God for the seat because I could stand up at will and stretch my legs and my butt.

The flight wasn’t bad and we did sleep for awhile.  Getting off the plane was tough down a narrow flight of stairs and then we had to walk at least a ¼ mile to get in the terminal.  This is a small airport but that made it nice instead of all the hustle and bustle of a big one.

The car rental counter was right outside the luggage pick up which came fast since we were the only plane there.  I messed up when I booked the car, I had pick-up for 1 PM and it was only 11.  They don’t keep a lot of Mercedes around so they had to go to Warsaw to get our car and we had to wait. The agent said it would be there in 90 mins. or less. We were not upset or in a hurry and we were hungry so we went to a restaurant across from the terminal and had a bite to eat. I had another rental with another company for a VW Passat , which would have been comfortable for us, as a backup. I went to check with the agent and she said he was on his way.  I asked what kind of car and she said no Mercedes it was aJaguar.  I had trouble controlling my excitement!

The car came back a little late and he had to wash it and when he finished it I finally signed the contract and we got our car. For 4 weeks they charged me $760.  The Passat was $900. Did I ever tell you how much I love Poland?  They gave us a brand new Jaguar XE 2 F with only 40 miles on the speed odometer.  It wasn’t easy, but we figured we could live with it.

Neither of our 2 GPS’s were working, as Susan tried to fix them at lunch, since Poland maps were never loaded and we couldn’t do so.  But this car had its own and Susan quickly loaded our destination and I changed the language to English US and we were off but the GPS didn’t give us voice directions.  We got going anyway and once we got on a stretch of road with more than 5 miles Susan would try to fix it.  She even called Budget rental and when she got thru and she told the woman the problem she hung up on her.  Next she searched the web for fix it info and that didn’t work.  So finally I said don’t worry we just buy one since I was having trouble navigating this so called highway with miles and miles of construction.  The 2 lane road was a constant zig-zag and trucks were plentiful.

It was long and treacherous for most of the way so we prayed the Rosary for some peace and calm.  During the 4th decade we were at a stop and I had a revelation……like where was the car made, stupid, and I began to laugh.  We continued to pray as Susan watched me play with the GPS, and when I went to language, she began to laugh as I changed it to English UK.  I think Our Blessed Mother was also laughing when all of a sudden this heavenly voice said in 300 meters keep left.  She should have added stupid.  The construction of the new 4 lane highway ended and the traffic cleared as we turned off the main road to Dobre Miastro.  It was winding roads and the Jag handled very nicely.  I was beginning to develop a relationship with this car. We will see where it goes.

35 minutes later we pulled into our hotel ( Hotel Kopezynski).  It looked pretty nice and it was first class.  The girl at the desk spoke English and gave us our room key.  They had a restaurant and were open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast came with the room and dinner we weren’t sure until we thought of all we had to catch up on reorganizing ourselves for the next 25 days.

We went to the small market across the street and got some picnic food and fresh bread for later and then headed out for the reason we stopped here, the Eucharistic Miracle that took place in Glotowo, 5 kilometers away.  We made it to this small nondescript church 5 minutes before the 6 PM mass, which we planned to attend.  When we walked in we almost fell down.   The church was beautiful (see Photos) done in a Baroque style.

I had time to take a few pics and we went to our pew.  The Pastor came by and we said hello and he remembered he had e-mailed Susan when she wrote to him.  He said mass and after they had benediction.  It was beautiful.  There were only a few people there including 2 sisters so when mass was over they shut the lights and got ready to close.  We hadn’t seen the miracle and were a little disappointed but still energized.

We were outside looking around at the map for the Stations of the Cross path they have, the photos of them are magnificent.  Each Station has a separate building and is very detailed.  It got cold and we knew we couldn’t do them.  As we were talking the pastor came out and we talked for awhile before I asked him where the Miracle was.  That’s all it took, he opened up the church and took us to the altar we sat next to that was the exact spot where it happened.

(Click here for the story of the Eucharistic Miracle of Glotowo)

He then got a laser pointer and took us thru the whole church explaining the stained glass and all the frescoes.  It was great, we saw it all.

We thanked him for his kindness and we bid farewell to him and left for our hotel. Now we were truly elated what a wonderful experience and Susan decided that every day would be Day 1 in Poland.

When we got back I bought a bottle of wine at the bar for our room and got a couple plates and utensils from one of the girls ( this is a true family run business with at least 6 kids and mom and dad, and they all get along ).

We dined in the room and I finished Sunday’s Madrid report and sent it out while Susan again organized us.  I’m glad I lost that job.  Good night it’s bedtime.


God Bless all of you


Susan & Tom


May the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints plead for us with the Lord, that we may deserve to be helped and delivered by Him, who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.






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Tom & Sue Day 6: Prado Nuevo, Spain

Humanity’s Eternal Destiny

The Immaculate Virgin, preserved from all stain of original sin, was taken up, body and soul, into Heavenly Glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of Lords, and conqueror of sin and death.

— Second Vatican Council

It’s Fri morning and we are in Prado Nuevo. We slept until 9 AM. and it took us almost 2 hours to have café and get going.

So good to see the sisters again in Prado Nuevo
So good to see the sisters again in Prado Nuevo

We were first going to the Foundation where the home for the elderly and the sisters who take care of them. This is favorite stop as many of the residents remember us from previous years. We saw several and several were missing. Sister Mercedes told us that 6 had died during the past year.  When we got there our friend Consuela met us and a little while Fr. Guillermo’s father, Tony arrived. Lots of hugs and kisses as this is our family in Spain. Sam had met everyone last year so he is now part of the family.

We spent almost 2 hrs. there and we took Sam to the chapel where the original statue of Our Lady of Prado Nuevo is kept. Her beautiful face was hacked by 3 people many years ago. Afterwards the statue shed tears for 8 days and several of the sisters we know witnessed it.

Editor’s note:  click here for our web page on the story of Prado Nuevo

Sam in front of the statue (just before he knocked over the flowers)
Sam in front of the statue (just before he knocked over the flowers)

Sam went up to say a prayer and then asked for a photo to be taken, visibly shaken, as he turned around he knocked over a flower vase. He was beside himself but sister Mercedes calmed him down. He is going to buy flowers today.

Consuela had to get back to Madrid but we will see her again tomorrow and Sunday for dinner at her house. We planned to meet Tony at 5 PM at the shrine for the Rosary and mass later today. More hugs and kisses and we left to find a place for lunch since we skipped breakfast.

Back at the apartment Sam and I went to get laundry soap and some fresh bread for our European dinner later, an assortment of meat and cheeses, fresh bread, olive oil and Dijon mustard…..washed down with a glass of wine or two.

We got back just after they started the Rosary, in front of the ash tree where Our Lady first appeared, and joined in after a quick hug from Carmen, Tony’s wife. We finished our rosary at the end when they say lots of prayers and we haven’t got a clue what they are praying but it’s beautiful.

Father Juan Carlos celebrated Mass here in Prado Nuevo
Father Juan Carlos celebrated Mass

We all walked up the hill to the chapel for mass and we were surprised when Fr Juan Carlos came out to preside. He kept looking at us smiling. At the beginning of his homily he acknowledged us as pilgrims from America and thanked us for being there and in English he asked if we understood (well, not really, but of course we said yes and thanked him back)………Confession is tomorrow at 10 AM!

After mass we waited for Fr. Juan and it was so good to see him. He is such a gentle person and very holy and his English got a little better. We will see him again in the morning at benediction and adoration.

Lots of hugs and kisses again and we departed. A quick bite to eat and I was off to bed around 10. Sam and Susan sat up till 11, that’s what they told me in the morning. That all I remember.

May God continue to bless all of you


Susan & Tom & Sam



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Tom & Sue Pilgrimage Day 4 Santo Toribio & Garabandal Spain

Tom Melillo typing up the days' trip reportEditor’s Note: Tom and Sue Melillo traveled extensively to Catholic shrines and have graciously shared their experiences with us via their daily “trip reports”.

Sadly, Tom is no longer with us, but his trip reports live on…and so do the memories of this faith-filled man.



Wednesday, May 24

Ola, Buenos noches,

We have a lot to share since yesterday so I will start from our departure from Palencia.

After our breakfast we made the 2 ½ hour drive to Santo Toribio over the Cantabrian mountains, where we were going to the Pilgrims mass.  This year anyone who attends mass and walks thru the doors of forgiveness there receives a plenary indulgence after fulfilling the normal requirements, i.e. confession, receiving communion, praying for the Pope’s intentions with a pure heart.  We arrived early and stopped in the town of Potes and had coffee and a few laughs.  Traveling with Sam is very comical to say the least.

We were very surprised when we got there to see so many people.  The last 4 times we were here, the most people we saw was about 20. This shrine houses the largest piece of the true Cross of Christ and venerating it is indescribable.  The piece is from the left side of the Cross and the nail hole is visible. (story below)

Right before the mass in the packed monastery all went outside and the clergy, consisting of 4 bishops and several priests came out and started the mass.  We then all proceeded back into the church thru the Doors of Forgiveness and mass continued.

After the mass everyone lined up to venerate the cross.  Sam was visably touched.  After his third time of venerating the cross, the monk left with the cross.  I think he was afraid Sam might try to take it home.

Totally uplifted we headed to San Sebastian De Garabandal.  For Susan and I this was our 10 anniversary since our first visit, this is our sixth time here and it always feels like being home.  Susan and Sam were pretty quiet on the ride thru the mountains and I didn’t share with them that this next part was the worst (for them) but not for me, I was back in heaven.  Sam told Susan that his stomach was pretty much still in his throat when we arrived.

We stopped for lunch just before the last 3 miles to Garabandal and had a great time. Again we ordered too much food but did it justice.  Refreshed and ready we made it to Garabandal and drove right to the village church to thank Our Mother for her protection and allowing us to be back, even though we brought Sam. LOL  The statue of Her in the church is very special for me and I cried as always when I saw her.

We all said a prayer and went to get our room at Papa’s and Sari’s,(this year I gave her chocolates instead of leeks and laundry soap) where we always stay.  Lots of hugs and kisses later we went to the hotel and the fun began.  Susan had to repack all the suitcase since I packed at home and we couldn’t find anything.( I’m glad I lost that job) While that was going on I was writing the trip report and Sam was being the mayor as always and we met so many people from all over the world.  One of our favorities was this family from Argentina.  The mom and dad brought 5 of their 6 children with them on their second visit.  The kids aged between 17 and 24 and it was an inspiration for us to see such a pious and loving family. Besides them we have met people from Ireland, France, Nigeria, Sweden, London and believe it or not the US.   Lots of new friends.

Sam helped me re-load the repacked luggage and cracked his nose on the trunk when I closed it and he tried to get something out before it closed. He now has a stigmata.  The car is a BMW X4 SUV and it’s pretty nice to drive.  Did I tell you that Sam really loves that car?

Susan and I were up until midnight sending photos and writing down new arrival intentions.  Exhausted we finally fell asleep and awoke refreshed and ready to go.  We thought we heard Sam outside talking to people so when we ventured out and didn’t see him we figured he had went off with some new friends.  Wrong.  Susan and I had  coffee and a lite breakfast and were getting ready to leave for 10 AM mass.  Thank God we forgot something in the room and Susan went back for it and worried about Sam and knocked on his door. Good thing she did for Sam was still asleep. Susan told him not to shower but to hurry and he even got a cup of coffee before we went to the church.

Fr. Rolando, as always, said a beautiful mass and afterwards we went into the sacristy to see him.  Lots of hugs and kiss later we introduced him to Sam and I asked him if Sam and us could venerate the cross that was kissed by Our Lady of Garabandal on many occaisions .  Michael the sacristian got the cross and Father and him explained to him about the cross.  Again his emotions overcame him and after four kisses I told Michael to hide the cross.  It was a beautiful and spiritual moment for all of us.

Father then gave us a special blessing and we made our way to the intention box in the church. Before we left we sent a message thru the Message of Garabandal site telling everyone that we would be here and if they had any intentions to please send them and we would deliver and pray for them here.  We received over 300 intentions in 5 days and with all of yours we delivered to Our Mother over 1000 intentions.  We read each one of them before her and prayed for all at mass and  later in the pines before her statue.  It was very humbling and an honor to be able to do so.  So many people are quietly suffering and we know that Our Lady will help them according to Gods will.

We then headed up to the pines at a snails pace since we are getting older but we didn’t have a problem getting there as we prayed the stations of the cross on the way. Suprisingly when we got to the pines we were the only people there until Gerard, our new friend from France appeared.  We had already re-read all the intention we have carried and delivered them to Our Mother via the (e-mail) box at the pine tree where she appeared.

Fulfilling our mission for the day we headed down the mountain the long way and enjoyed the views all the way. We talked to so many of new friends and were having a great time it is now close to midnight as I write this.  No rest for the wicked!

That’s pretty much all I can remember of this beautiful day in Garabandal.  Tomorrow we leave after the 10 AM mass and benediction when father offers  up all the intentions for the week.  We can’t miss that.

So I will say Buenos Noches for now.

May God continue to bless all of you and protect and guide you.

Love Susan & Tom

Glorious Queen of Peace, grant us peace in our hearts, harmony

In our families and concord throughout the world. Immaculate Mother, as

Patron of our Beloved Country, watch over us and protect us with your

Motherly Love.  Amen.


Santo Toribiode Lebana 

The monastery here two miles south of Potes is in an area called Liébana (translated as Lebanon in English) at the foothills of the Picos de Europa (Peaks of Europe, Spain’s largest national park) which are really a continuation of the Pyrenees. Benedictine monks founded the monastery here during the sixth century. Beato, one of the monks in the middle of the eighth century, wrote a commentary on the Book of Apocalypse with illustrations and you may see copies of the illustrations on the walls of the cloister. The present church was built in 1256. The side chapel containing the largest known relic of the True Cross, the Lignum Crucis, was built at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

How did this most precious relic end up here? St. Toribio lived for some time in Jerusalem and was the custodian and guardian of the relics there. Fearing the profanation of the relics at the onset of Persian persecution he transferred the relics first to Rome and then to Spain. The relic was in the Cathedral of Astorga where Toribio was bishop. During invasions of Spain in the eighth century the relic was transferred here to Liébana during the reign of King Alfonso I. The remains of St. Toribio of Astorga were also transferred here at the same time. (The Sudarium also had to be hidden during this time). The chronicles of the Benedictine order state that this relic is from the left branch of the True Cross discovered by St. Elena, the mother of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. The relic is in the gold plated cross behind the altar, it is in the upright position in the cross, you may see it through the glass. The hole from the nail can be plainly seen. In 1958 the wood was scientifically analyzed in Madrid and discovered to be extraordinarily old, the wood is Cupressus Sempervivens L. Whenever the feast of St. Toribio on April 16th falls on a Sunday it is a Jubilee Year here in the church and pilgrims fulfilling the usual requirements may gain the indulgence by visiting here that year. This Jubilee occurs every 6, 5, 6 and 11 years (similar to the Jubilee in Santiago de Compostela when the feast of St James on July 25th falls on a Sunday).

There is an ancient custom in the surrounding villages whereby two men from each village come to the monastery here to pray in the church and venerate the relic on a fixed day of the week according to agreement. They depart their village at midnight and walk all night, sometimes barefooted to reach the monastery at dawn. The tradition continues and is regulated by the local town councils and the monastery. In the program of the monastery you will see that the special Mass for this custom called La Vez is on Fridays at 11:00am from June to September (2003).

The veneration of this relic here has been accompanied by many signs and graces from heaven. Fr. Antonio de Yepes, in his Chronicles of the Benedictine Order, states, “If one had to count all the successive miracles, they would fill an entire tract…” Many people have testified to having received big graces praying in front of the relic of the True Cross here in Santo Toribio. As we venerate the cross here, we do so in a spirit of sorrow for our sins and asking graces for our lives that we may better represent Jesus in the world.

The Story of the Discovery of the Cross.

The “holy cross [was] found by St. Helen in the 326, about 180 years after it had been buried by the heathens. For out of an aversion to Christianity, they had done all in their power to conceal the place where it lay, and where our Savior was buried. They had therefore heaped upon his sepulcher a great quantity of stones and rubbish, besides building a temple to Venus; that those who came thither to adore him. might seem to pay their worship to a marble idol resenting this false deity. They had, more over, erected a statue to Jupiter in the place where our Savior rose from the dead, as we are informed by St. Jerome; which figure continued there from the emperor Adrian’s time to Constantine’s reign. The precautions of the persecutors evidently show the veneration which Christians must have paid from the beginning to the Instruments of our redemption.

Helena, Constantine’s mother, being inspired with a great desire to find the identical cross on which Christ had suffered for our sins, came to Jerusalem, and consulted all those whom she thought likely to assist her in compassing [accomplishing] her pious design. She was by them credibly informed, that if she could find out the sepulcher, she would likewise find out the instruments of the punishment; it being always a custom among the Jews to make a great hole near the place where the body of the criminal was buried, and to throw into it whatever belonged to his execution; looking upon all these things as detestable objects, and which for that reason ought to be removed out of sight. The pious empress, therefore, ordered the profane building to be pulled down, the statues to be broken in pieces, and the rubbish to he removed; and upon digging to a great depth, they discovered the holy sepulcher, and near it three crosses; also the nails which had pierced our Saviour’s body, and the title which had been affixed to his cross. By this discovery they understood that one of the three crosses was that which they were in quest of, and that the other two belonged to the two malefactors between whom our Savior had been crucified. But as the title was found separate from the cross, a difficulty remained to distinguish which of the three was that cross on which our divine redeemer had consummated his sacrifice for the salvation of the world.

In this perplexity the holy bishop Macarius, knowing that one of the principal ladies of the city lay extremely ill, suggested to the empress to cause the three crosses to be carried to the sick person, not doubting but God would discover which was the cross they sought for. This being done, St. Macarius prayed that God would have regard to their faith, and after his prayer, applied the crosses singly to the patient, who was immediately and perfectly recovered by the touch of one of the crosses, the other two having been tried without effect.

St. Helen, full of joy for having found the treasure which she had so earnestly sought, and so highly esteemed, built a church on the spot, and lodged it there with great veneration, having provided an extraordinary rich case for it. She afterward carried part of it to the emperor Constantine, then at Constantinople, who received it with great veneration: another part she sent, or rather carried to Rome to be placed in the church which she built there, under the name of The Holy Cross of Jerusalem, where it remains to this day.

The title was sent by St. Helen to the same church in Rome, and deposited on the top of an arch, where it was found in a case of lead in 1492, and may be read at length in Bozius. The inscription in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, is in red letters, and the wood was whitened. Thus it was in 1492 but these colors have since faded. Also the words Jesus and Judaeorum are eaten away. The board is nine, but must have been originally twelve inches long. The main part of the cross St. Helen enclosed in a silver shrine, and committed to the care of St. Macarius, that it might be delivered down to posterity as an object of veneration. It was accordingly kept with singular respect in the magnificent church which she and her son built at Jerusalem, and was shown publicly to the people at Easter. This stately church was hence called the Basilic of the Holy Cross; it was also called the church of the Sepulchre or of the Resurrection, thought this was properly the title only of the holy chapel which stood over the sepulcher or cavern in which our Savior was buried, which was in the garden adjoining to Mount Calvary; so that this great church covered the sepulcher, and was extended so far on Mount Calvary as also to included the rock Golgotha, and the very place where the cross of Christ stood at his crucifixion. This extensive building was enclosed within the walls of Jerusalem when that city was rebuilt. The find of the cross by St. Helen happened in the year of our Lord 326, in the thirteenth of the pontificate of Sylvester, and the first after the council of Nice.”

May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!

Tom & Susan Melillo



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Tom & Sue arrive in Spain — first report

Buenos Tardes,


Sorry we are so late with this first report.  We are just happy that we made it.  We are in Garabandal and I type this as I sit below the Pines for inspiration.  But I won’t get ahead of myself and start on Sunday, May 21, the day we left.

I picked Sam up at 1 PM and we were off to Miami by 2.  Everything was finally packed for or 33 day Pilgrimage.  Sam had only 1 medium suitcase and a small carry on since he was only going to be with us for our week in Spain.  I had a medium suitcase and Susan had 1 large (heavy, it weighed in at 64# at the airport) bag and 2 others plus we had that just in case bag. I think this was the most stuff we ever brought.

The ride to the airport, turning in the car and check-in was as smooth as can be and we had a martini in the Admirals club in hand by 4:15. At 6:30 we went to our gate to board only to find out that they couldn’t find our plane and were trying to get another from a hanger and they didn’t know where that one was. Oh Boy!

Over 2 hours later a plane pulled in to pick us up.  I think the 9:40 flight took off first. We settled in and had a nice dinner and I  went right to sleep only to wake up to Susan shaking me because her cracked rib was hurting and she needed a pain pill.  I worried about her all night and sleep evaded me excepts for some twilight moments.

We arrived in Madrid and had our car, 3 hours behind schedule, but we were happy and headed out for our first stop, Our Lady of Fuencisla in Segovia, about 1 1/2 hour drive.  On the way we stopped for cash and some soda, water and wine of course.

The shrine re-opened at 3:30 just as we arrived.  Susan and I had been here before and we were happy to be back. Sam was just warming up but we could see his excitement since Susan read the story on the way.  The church was empty of people but full of the spiritual auora that we remembered from before. After a few short prayers we did our touristy thing taking photos and then spent the next half hour praying the Rosary for all the intentions we brought with us. It was very peaceful and emotional looking at all the needs of so many people.  ( a short history of Our Lady of Fuencisla is below)

As we left we got healing water from the fountain that has been there for hundreds of years and where many miracles have happened.  Our next stop was our hotel in Palencia, about 2 1/2 hours away.  We only had to stop 2 times so I could wake up and arrived there around 7.

Hungry now we went to the town square with so many restaurants.  Unfortunately the didn’t start serving until 9.  Panic set in and we tried some side streets and happened across a rest. that wasn’t opened but took us in and fed us.  Even though there was total lack of communication we had the evening plate du Jour and it was great and there was so much food we couldn’t finish.  I think they thought we didn’t like it so I left a big tip and they kissed us as we left.

Editors Note:  If you are traveling to Spain, many restaurants do not open for the evening meal until around 9:00 p.m.  So this was not unusual.

I was done and we couldn’t get back to the hotel fast enough.  Sam went for a walk, I laid down and was gone and Susan was 1 minute behind me.  I think it was around 8:30 and Sam knocked on our door to wake us at 6:30. Refreshed we had breakfast and paid our bill and it was off to Santo Toribio, but that will wait for the next report.

(Tomorrow, I promise) Photos in the second e-mail.

God Bless all of you;


Susan & Tom


Gate of Heaven, Pray for us.

Morning Star, Pray for us.

Health of the Sick, Pray for us.

Refuse of Sinners, Pray for us.

Comforter of the Afflicted, Pray for us.

Help of Christians, Pray for us.


— From the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary



Nuestra Señora de la Fuencisla, Spain, was found in 1019. Supposedly, the statue originated in Antioch from where St. Peter sent it to Spain in 64 AD. In 714 it had to be hidden from enemies and was found again in 1019. The statue was in excellent condition, still dressed with garments customary at the time of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Allegedly, St. Peter sent another statue of Our Lady similar to the one from Antioch, which was carved by Nicodemus and painted by St. Luke, to Madrid, Spain. In 720 it had to be hidden in a well from where angels rescued it and brought it to a field where shepherds found it in 1242. Repeatedly, the statue returned to the well via a path of accumulated clouds.  Eventually, a spring developed close to the site and a small church with the name ‘Wells of living water’ was built there. In the thirteenth century Nuestra Señora de la Franquerra, Spain, was found on a rock next to a healing spring.11



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Prayers Answered & on the road again with Tom & Sue

We want to thank you all for your prayers.  Thanks to my wonderful wife, Susan, the prayer warrior, half the world was again praying to St. John Paul II on my behalf.

In March I had a pet scan and a small area of the upper lobe of my liver (close to the last tumor) showed hot (potentially cancerous).  After an MRI, it was confirmed that 2 small tumors were present.  After several consultations including surgery and some fun time in the hospital we were directed to a Dr Hall in Jupiter Hospital to discuss a Y-90 treatment.  (Radioactive  Spherese into the affected area).

The Dr. agreed that I was a good candidate and scheduled me for a mapping of the liver to the tumors via catheter through the groin to see if the treatment would work.  I had this done on April 18 and we had to wait for the results. UGH!  Fortunately  1 hour after we got home we got a call to be scheduled the following Wed. A great relief compared to the alternative of surgery.

The day before this procedure Susan had a small procedure for a tendon problem and had to wear a brace on her wrist. It wasn’t bad and she said she could still nurse me when we got home on Tues and she did until around 1 am when she went to the bath room and fell down and hurt herself.  She wasn’t going to tell me but her moaning and groaning gave her away.  I couldn’t even help her sit up and I wasn’t supposed to drive for 24 hours so I called an ambulance.  They wanted her to get an x-ray so off she went to the hospital.  I told the EMT’s about the procedure I had just had and they told me I should stay home and get someone to pick her up in 3-4 hours.  I tried to sleep and did so for about 2-3 hours and then got up and went to get her.  I did bring a sweater but forgot the shoes so they gave Susan socks to go home in.  I’m sure they cost $200.

I drove with 2 feet so I wouldn’t strain the groin area and open the artery and got my honey home.  The funny thing was that the patient then became the nurse and we survived.  Just another normal day in the Melillo household!

The next Tues we got a call that we had to reschedule for Thursday since the wrong dose of radiation beads was sent.  We were not happy until we remembered that Thursday was the anniversary day of the Canonization of St. John Paul II and the birthday of his best friend Cardinal Dziwisz whom we have been honored to be with several times.  I think we were both relaxed on our way to the hospital.  The procedure took less than an hour and we were home for lunch. Praise God and thank you St. John Paul.

The Doctor was very happy with the procedure and gave us the all clear to go on our pilgrimage which will happen, God willing, on May 21st.  I have to go back in 3 months for a scan.   And the good news is I feel great, no side affects or any discomfort.  The bad news is my steroid prescription runs out today also Susan and I have to sleep in seperate rooms for 5 days and can’t even kiss goodnight so we fist bump. Real romantic!

We all know someone with cancer, so if you do and they would like to talk about it have them e-mail us and we would be happy to share all of Susan’s research and the procedures we went through.  Many times doctors don’t tell the patient they have options with this newer technology of today and it is a scary time when you get that diagnosis.  Our faith keeps us calm and we thank God for each day as it comes.  As someone said “no one is getting out of here alive”

Our 9th pilgrimage this year (33 days) will include our first week spent in Spain.  Sam, our kid from last year’s trip asked to go. Last year in the holy land changed him and we are happy to have him and he has met our friends we will again see at Prado Nuevo.  We will also venture into the mountains to Garabandal and 2 other shrines along the way.

From the Shrine at Prado Nuevo … Taken recently by our dear friend, Tony, at the Ash Tree Where Our Blessed Mother first appeared:.
From the Shrine at Prado Nuevo … Taken recently by our dear friend, Tony, at the Ash Tree Where Our Blessed Mother first appeared:.


Then it’s on to Poland for 25 days for Susan and I (Sam has to go home) and a typical road tour for us, a little less aggressive than past years, but with lots of beautiful places to go to and special friends to see.

As we requested before please send any prayer request you have as many have already done. The shrines we will visit are almost all known for miraculous events and healings over the years.   Just pray along with us as we go and have great faith in the Lord and Mary His Mother. Many prayers thru miracles have been answered on these journeys and as Fr. Scott said in his homily Sat morning: “Many miracles happen everyday around us, sometimes we realize it and other times we let them just pass by as chance or luck.”

>Hopefully you will start getting trip reports on May 21st and daily throughout the trip.  We love having all of you as company along with the angelic guard that seems to always be with us.  If you are a new and would like to read past trip reports you can go tothecatholictravelguide.com  Hit the BLOG button and scroll down to Tom and Sue Pilgrimages from past years.  They have covered and saved many of our trips through the years.

Well that’s it until we depart.  Again thank you for all your prayers and notes, they do work, and we will continue to pray for all of you daily.
Love Mary!  Our Blessed Mother.
She is loveable, faithful, constant.
She will never let herself be outdone in love,
but will ever remain supreme.
If you are in danger,
She will hasten to free you.
If you are troubled,
She will console you.
If you are sick,
She will bring you relief.
If you are in need,
She will help you.
She does not look to see
what kind of person you have been.
She simply comes to a heart
that wants to love her.
She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you,
embraces you and consoles you.
She will even be at hand to
accompany you on the trip to eternity.
_meditation of St. Gabriel Possenti


God Bless You Always,
Tom & Susan Melillo

E-Mail: TSMelillo13@aol.com