Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

Want to help the Christians in the Holy Land?

Helping Christians in the Holy Land

It is strange to realize that the area where Jesus was born, lived and died is now an area Christians are a minority.  Those who are there face discrimination and worse.  But there is a way to help these Christians when you book a tour with Select International Tours.

Select to Give is a not for profit foundation, founded by Select International Tours.

Select is an award winning, thirty year old, faith based tour operator specializing in group trips to Europe, the Holy Land, Canada, Mexico, South America and the USA.

The Faith Travel Association awarded the “Impact Award” to Select International Tours for innovation and quality in travel.

Select to Give Foundation exists to help the Christians of the Holy Land and the Middle East!  Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships, they support innovative community efforts to help Christians achieve a safer and more prosperous existence.

Palestinian Christian children in the Holy Land
Palestinian Christian children in the Holy Land

Their organization’s goal is to recognize and maximize human potential in Christian communities by offering assistance in establishing programs that provide opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, social justice and community building.

They Send Every Dollar to the Holy Land

Select to Give is 100% volunteer-administered. They have zero overhead, which allows them to spend every dollar to directly support Christian Families living in the Holy Land. They work on several projects to assist Christians with education, medical care, financial support, and meeting basic human needs.

Click here to learn more about the Select to Give Foundation.

Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

Why all the interest in Garabandal?

Why all the recent interest in Garabandal?

Plaque in Garabandal where St. Michael the Archangel appearedThe apparitions of both Saint Michael the Arcangel and the Blessed Virgin Mary took place in 1961.  So why the increasing level of intrest in these apparitions today?

Perhaps it lies in the fact that so much of what we took for granted in the world has recently been turned upside down. 

Things just don’t seem quite right compared to the world of just a few years back.   For example:

Covid-19 response:

In some countries churches were closed under the guise of “preventing the spread” of Covid, but bars and clubs providing so called “adult entertainment” have remained open.  Meanwhile economies have been destroyed, families torn apart and people live in irrational fear (ever seen a person driving in a car alone with a mask on?).  Australia set up “internment camps” for those with Covid-19, in England people have been arrested for holding outside church service…….and we could go on and on.

Destruction of traditional Christianity:

Sexual Deviation is being normalized and even encouraged, both by certain governments as well as the entertainment industry……especially to vulnerable young children.  Drag shows in public venues have become all too common in many cities and towns….all in the name of being “inclusive”.

The U.S. now issues passports for non-binary people….you don’t have to declare yourself male or female.  And, in many states you can change the sex assigned at birth on your birth certificate.  

They want you to “follow the science” but not when it comes to physical anatomy, apparently. 

Socialism and Marxism are promoted as ideals, even though there is no evidence that either has ever worked.  You cannot find a single example of where socialism has worked.  Perhaps because people are so poorly educated that they cannot even define socialism.  The basic definition of socialism is that people have private property, but the government owns the means of production (factories, farms, etc.)  Countries such as Sweden are held up as examples where socialism works…..but Sweden is not Socialist…you can read this article from a former President of Sweden.

In the U.S. racism is raising its head in the form of “anti-racism”, which is in itself a form of racism, since everything is seen through the prism of skin color.

Attacks on the family:  everything from our schools to our society aim to diminish the importance of the family.  The family unit is the basis of society and therefore is the first target of the Devil.  The United Nations and the European Court seem inclined to view your children as theirs, not yours.  And it goes on and on.

Division within the Church:  Even within the Church there is division:  why did Pope Benedict XVI resign, why do not more priests and bishops speak out against the sin of abortion; why does the Vatican some times seem to embrace ideologies not in keeping with Catholic beliefs?  Why do many Catholics not believe in the True Presence of the Eucharist?  Why did the U.S. elect a nominally Catholic president who promotes abortion?  The list goes on and on with no end in sight.

So what has this to do with Garabandal?

It is no surprise that people are beginning to think that these things cannot continue and that we are approaching a time when God will intervene in a way similar to what has been foretold by the children in Garabandal.  Of course, this is not unique to Garabandal, since others have predicted such events as well.

"The Pines" in Garabandal Spain
“The Pines”

The visionaries of Garabandal were told of a world-wide warning (an illumination of conscience for everyone) and, within a year of that warning a miracle to be left in the pines of Garabandal….a physical sign to be seen around the world.

Within the context of such an unsettled world, people are expecting the warning of Garabandal to take place very soon.  Note that Mari Loli, who knows the date of the miracle, said it would be “within the same year“.  So is that a mis-translation, a mis-understanding, or is that correct?

Could this be the year? 

We have no idea, but it is supposed to occur during the lifetime of one of the visionaries, who is now in her 70’s.  So obviously we need to stay aware of the signs.and it is useful to point out that often times prophecies don’t seem to make sense until after they occur, and when we look back we say “of course, now I understand”.


Garabandal:  A warning and prophecy for our time?

Garabandal, Spain

An American president, Ronald Reagan, talking about nuclear disarmament with the Soviet Union, said “Trust, but verify”.  This is not a bad policy to follow when evaluating the various stories about Garabandal and the prophecies.  Every year we see a lot of interest in Garabandal, especially early in the year, since the miracle is supposed to occur in March, April or May.  The world-wide warning is to occur prior to this, then we could be on the cusp of that event.

Having visited Garabandal many times, and talked to the villagers, we are believers in the overall message of Garabandal.  But that does not blind us to reality, so we with so many interviews given by the visionaries realize it is possible through mis-translation or otherwise, that the details and timeline of the events can become blurred.

You have to remember that these were simple village children with little knowledge of the outside world…there was no internet or other communication available to them and Garabandal was a tiny hamlet miles from what anyone would even consider a village.  And their parents were simple as well.  One day back in the 1990’s (we can’t remember exactly when) we happened to be in Garabandal when a helicopter landed….and the whole village was in an uproar because they had never seen a helicopter before!  So to think that these people suddenly made up the apparitions and their message is just too incredulous to imagine.

And, of course, there were many witnesses to the events of Garabandal…..including skeptics, who went away believing in the apparitions.

Setting the record straight about Garabandal:

As the Bible says in 1st Thessalonians:  “Do not despise prophetic utterances.  Test everything; retain what is good.”  Prophecies can be confusing in their interpretation.  It has been said “It would not be a prophecy if we knew ahead of time its exact meaning, and if we could guess the right date of its happening.”

Garabandal was a sleepy village in 1961 when reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (preceded by Saint Michael the Archangel) to four young girls took place. Important messages for the world were also given to the girls at that time. Not that long ago…and yet the messages or apparitions have not been approved, nor disapproved, by the Church.

The “bottom line” from what we understand is:

1. A worldwide warning where everyone sees their soul as God sees it (an illumination of conscience).

2. A miraculous sign to be left at the Pines here in Garabandal within 12 months of the warning.  Mari Loli is quoted as saying “within the same year“, so we are not sure which is correct.

3. A final chastisement if mankind does not repent.

For a more detailed look at the prophecies of Garabandal, check out our page here.




Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

Relic of Carlo Acutis available for veneration in Washington, DC

The International Week of Prayer and Fasting, in collaboration with the Legion of Mary, runs from October 20-28, 2023.

The International Week of Prayer and Fasting campaign is a grassroots movement of Catholics and other Christians from around the world participating in a global network of prayer and fasting.

Most of the presentations are virtual. This entire event will be available FREE via livestream on the day of the events. An all-access pass will be available for a donation, which will allow unlimited access for a year following the events.

The Week culminates on Saturday, October 28th, featuring speakers Fr. Timothy E. Byerley, Ray Grijalba, Dr. Carlos Parellada, Sister Deirdre Byrne, and Ted Flynn.

In addition to all-day Adoration, there will be the opportunity for veneration of a relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis,

At noon, October 28, Mass will be held in The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. and celebrated by Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Baker, STD.

This event also includes a procession of the nations, a global living Rosary recited by people representing Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The participants will be wearing traditional dress from their countries of origin. There will also be the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the opportunity for confession.

To register online and to receive more information, visit their website at www.IWOPF.org or call +1 888-478-PRAY.

Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

Arm of Saint Jude to be on display in U.S.A. Sep 9-Nov 6

Saint Jude Thaddeus: The Gospel tells us that St. Jude was a brother of St. James the Less, also one of the Apostles. They are described in the Gospel of Matthew as the “brethren” of Jesus, probably cousins. St. Jude is sometimes confused with Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, St. Jude traveled throughout Mesopotamia, Libya, and Persia with Saint Simon…… preaching and building up the foundations of the early Church. St. Jude died a martyr’s death for his unwavering faith.

After his martyrdom, the body of St. Jude was buried temporarily in Mesopotamia and then taken to Rome where he was interred in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with the other Apostles. His forearm was incasesd in a silver reliquary for many centuries was located in Armenia. At the beginning of the 18th century, Armenian Dominican Missionaries left Armenia because of the Moslem persecution and brought the relic to Smyrna, Turkey. After another round of persecutions, the relic was given to the Dominicans in Turin, Italy.

Relic of the arm of St Jude in Dominican shrine of st jude in Chicago
Relic of the arm of Saint Jude


In 1949, the Dominican Province of St. Peter Martyr in Turin presented the relic to the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude in Chicago, Illinois on the 20th anniversary of their Shrine’s dedication to St. Jude, where it is on permanent display.  It is reportedly the largest relic of an Apostle located outside of Europe.

Here is an interesting article from Chicago Catholic newspaper about the custodian of the relic.  The picture on our site is from that article.  Photo credit: Karen Callaway, Archdiocese of Chicago.


From time to time the relic is taken on tour for special events like Solemn Novenas, healing, and prayer services across the United States.

Such is the case in 2023, when the arm will be available for veneration in the U.S.A. from September 9 through November 6 in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, and possibly more to be added.  You can find the tour schedule here.

Note: there are two shrines to Saint Jude in Chicago…the other one is the National Shrine of Saint Jude.

Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

Looking for beautiful churches in the U.S.A.?

Those of us growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s in the U.S. (I know, there are fewer of us each day) remember going to Mass in churches that looked like….well, churches.  Most had statutes of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and various saints.  There were usually stained glass windows depicting various scenes from the Bible. Marble altars, altar rails and other features told you that you had entered somewhere special….and even sacred!  And the sanctuary lamp, always burning over the tabernacle, which was in plain sight, reinforced this feeling.

Then, in the wake of Vatican II (and we are not knocking all of Vatican II…just some of the excesses), we found many members of the building committees wanting to throw out everything that made Catholic churches unique, despite the fact that Vatican II had nothing to say on the subject of church construction.

It was an effort to “keep up with the times“…..and yet, the Church is timeless.  It dies when it tries to keep up with the times….as many protestant denominations are beginning to find out.

So, beauty was cast aside and we ended up with some churches resembling bomb shelters or gymnasiums. Those purposely bland structures certainly did not inspire anyone. You couldn’t show the beautiful stained glass windows to your children to enhance their biblical knowledge…because in many cases the windows were gone!

We know of priests, when designing a new church, had to fight with their Diocese and, often, compromises were made just to get these churches built.  For example, the best the priest might hope for is that the Tabernacle would be placed in an Adoration Chapel…somewhat visible from the main sanctuary, but not necessarily near the altar.  But that is the best outcome..in some churches the tabernacle was practically in the broom closet.  And then people wonder why belief in the Eucharist has fallen amongst Catholics!

We know, the Mass remains sacred regardless where it is said, but there is something about a church designed with beauty in mind that adds a sense of reverence, wonder, and dignity.

There is a hunger for beauty in our world, and that certainly extends to our churches as well.  We are beginning to see a rejection of the modernist trend that led to these buildings and many churches (those being built, and those being re-modeled) are beginning to look like those beautiful churches of the past.

One example of that trend is shown below: the “before” and “after” of the re-design of Saint Dominic Church in Brick, New Jersey.  And “before” was mild compared to some of the other churches we have seen.

And, one the newest shrines in the U.S., the Shrine of Blessed Stanley Rother in Oklahoma, has chosen the classical look in their chapel.

The same is true of in Green Bay Wisconsin….their sanctuary

Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

Tom & Sue Personal Pilgrimage 2016: June 13 (Day 18) Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland

Dobranoc: (Thanks Rosemarie)

Did you know that daybreak in Poland is at 4 AM?  UGH! The sun is shining shortly after…….and I’m up, thinking I am late.  Even with black out shades the light sneaks in. Now try going back to  sleep!

We wanted to be up early anyway, since we were taking a road trip to Our Lady of Czestowchowa, about 2 hours away.  This is the greatest Shrine to Our Lady in Poland.  Father Tomasz said we were smart to go early (and during the week), the crowds would be small.  Well, we even skipped breakfast, but didn’t get out the door until almost  8:30.

Don’t ask! We were just being leisurely. Well, to  tell you the truth, we have a shower that has 10 heads.  It’s like being in a car wash!  Susan was in it the first night for almost 20 minutes.  We have been fighting over it ever since.  LOL

The traffic wasn’t too bad but there is a lot of construction going on in preparation for World Youth Day when they expect at least 2 million youths and adults to converge on Krakow. God help them.  Many people in the old town and nearby are staying with relatives and renting out their homes, since there are not enough hotel rooms and apartments  The U.S. has the second largest number of people coming, after Italy.  That’s pretty good!

We arrived at the Shrine not expecting what we saw and were amazed at how large and beautiful it was.  Our first stop was  to the chapel of the Icon of the Blessed Mother and Jesus, a Black Madonna,  where mass was about to begin.

We stood against a wall 1/2 half way up  to the altar and could not see anything there were so many  people.  After mass most of them stayed to get to the altar area to pray before the famous Icon, we left and went out to get a  coffee.   Twenty minutes later it was like a bomb scare had gone off as the hordes of people left the Chapel.

We went  back in, only to find that they had covered the Madonna Icon and closed the altar area for cleaning. Most of the people were in groups on tour buses and went to the dining hall for lunch, a perfect time to explore the marvelous shrine.  See photos.

Susan and I had a quick bite at the nearest cafeteria style  restaurant.  It was just food, but we needed something.

We then explored the grounds and the whole Basilica  and went to the adoration chapel to pray the Rosary since the Rosary chapel was  closed.  At the second decade, we stopped, since mass had begun in the icon chapel, and even with the doors closed in the adoration chapel, it was too loud to meditate…..it was  just above the Icon.

We went down to the mass since they allowed people to walk behind the altar and the Madonna where you could venerate many relics in a  glass enclosure.  We waited for the gospel to be finished, took a couple of pictures and went to the back.  We waited for the homily to be over and walked out the other side.

Time to depart since it was after 2 and we thought we would go to Auschwitz, but that didn’t happen, it would have been to late when we  got there and we were tired from the drive.

We went to the apartment  and I have to look at the pictures to remember what we did……….I’ll be  right back.

Ok, I got it.  Susan and I went out for dinner to this nice  restaurant which, when we entered, they said the dining room was closed but  we could sit on the patio.  That sounded great and after we sat and ordered a glass of wine and a bottle of water they said they could give us  blankets.  I thought that it might snow, so we took one each, I  wanted the green one.  This  restaurant is famous for perogies (filled dumplings…an Eastern European specialty)…….and that night they gave a lesson on making them in the garden were we sat.  They  filled the restaurant with the group that learned their secret.

Susan had duck and I had veal chop Milanese.  Both  dinners
were outstanding.  With the wine we had and the rest of  the meal the bill was 160 pln.  After adding a generous tip, we left $48  poorer.  Did I ever tell you I love  Krakow ?????

It was home to shower again and relax; maybe some TV and a good nights sleep.  We have a new arraignment, I’ll tell you about it  later.

There is a story of Our Lady of  Czestochowa below.

Dobrovnic, its close

“What  you are is God’s gift to you,
What  you become is your gift to God.”

May you shine before him.
Susan & Tom

Prayer to Our Lady of  Czestochowa

O Mother of  God, Immaculate Mary, to thee do I dedicate my body and soul,
all my prayers and  deeds, my joys and sufferings, all that I am an all that I have.

With a joyful  heart I surrender myself to thy love. To thee will I
devote my services of my  own free will for the salvation of mankind, and for the help of the Holy Church  whose Mother thou art.
From now on my only desire is to do all things with  thee, through thee,
and for thee. I know I can accomplish nothing by my own  strength, whereas
thou can do everything that is the will of thy Son, Our Lord  Jesus Christ.
Thou are always victorious. Grant, therefore, O Helper of the  Faithful, that
my family, my parish, and my country might become in truth the  Kingdom where
thou reignest in the glorious presence God the Father, God the  Son, and
God the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.

The Story of Our Lady of Czestochowa
The  Monastery of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, Poland, is the third-largest
Catholic pilgrimage site in the world. Home to the beloved miraculous icon
of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the monastery is also the national shrine of
Poland and the center of Polish  Catholicism.

According  to tradition, the icon of Jasna Góra was painted by Luke the
Evangelist on  a tabletop built by Jesus himself, and the icon was discovered
by St.  Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine and collector of Christian
relics in  the Holy Land. The icon was then enshrined in the imperial city of
Constantinople, according to the legend, where it remained for the next  500
The  painting is said to have been given as a wedding gift from the
Byzantine  emperor to a Greek princess, who married a Ruthenian nobleman. The image
was then placed in the royal palace at Belz, where it remained for nearly
600 years.
History  first combines with tradition upon the icon’s arrival in Poland
with a  Polish army fleeing the Tartars, who had struck it with an  arrow.
Legend  has it that during the looting of Belz, a mysterious cloud
enveloped the  chapel containing the image. A monastery was founded in Czestochowa
to  enshrine the icon, and soon King Jagiello built a cathedral around the
chapel containing the icon.
Hussites  (pre-Reformation reformers) attacked the monastery, slashed the
Virgin’s  face with a sword, and left it desecrated in a puddle of blood and

It is said that when the monks pulled the icon from the mud, a  miraculous
fountain appeared, which they used to clean the painting. The  icon was
repainted in Krakow, but both the arrow mark and the gashes from  the sword were
left and remain clearly visible  today.
The  miracle for which the Black Madonna of Czestochowa is most famous
occurred, when Swedish troops were about to invade Czestochowa. A group of
Polish soldiers prayed fervently before the icon for deliverance, and the
enemy retreated.
King  John Casimir declared Our Lady of Czestochowa “Queen of Poland” and
made  the city the spiritual capital of the nation.
Pope  Clement XI officially recognized the miraculous nature of the  image.

September  15, 1920
The  Virgin again came to the aid of her people, when the Soviet Russian
Red  Army gathered on the banks of the Vistula River, preparing to attack
Warsaw. The citizens and soldiers fervently prayed to Our Lady of  Czestochowa
and on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, she appeared in the  clouds above
Warsaw. The Russians were defeated in a series of battles  later dubbed the
“Miracle at the Vistula.”
Pope  Pius XI designated May 3 a feast day in her  honor.
During  Nazi occupation, Hilter prohibited pilgrimages to Jasna Góra, but
many  still secretly made the journey. After Poland was liberated, half a
million pilgrims journeyed to Cz?stochowa to express their  gratitude.
September  8, 1946
1.5  million people gathered at the shrine to rededicate the entire nation
to  the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During the Cold War, Jasna Góra was a
center  of anti-Communist resistance.
Pope  John Paul II, a native of Poland, was a fervent devotee of the Virgin
Mary  and of her icon at Cz?stochowa. As pope, he made pilgrimages to pray
before the Black Madonna in 1979, 1983, 1991, and  1997.
He  held his Sixth World Youth Day at Czetochowa, which was attended by
350,000 young people from across Europe.
May  26, 2006
Pope  Benedict XVI visited the shrine.
Miracles,  Cures, and Signs

In  1430, Hussites (pre-Reformation reformers) attacked the monastery,
slashed the  Virgin’s face with a sword, and left it desecrated in a puddle of
blood and  mud.

It is said that when the monks pulled the icon from the mud, a  miraculous
fountain appeared, which they used to clean the painting. The icon  was
repainted in Krakow, but both the arrow mark and the gashes from the sword  were
left and remain clearly visible today.

In 1655, The miracle for  which the Black Madonna of Czestochowa is most
famous occurred, when Swedish  troops were about to invade Czestochowa. A
group of Polish soldiers prayed  fervently before the icon for deliverance, and
the enemy retreated.

On  September 15, 1920, the Virgin again came to the aid of her people,
when the  Soviet Russian Red Army gathered on the banks of the Vistula River,
preparing to  attack Warsaw. The citizens and soldiers fervently prayed to
Our Lady of  Czestochowa and on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, she appeared
in the clouds  above Warsaw. The Russians were defeated in a series of
battles later dubbed the  “Miracle at the Vistula.”

May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!

Tom &  Susan Melillo
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 (USA)


_TSMelillo13@aol.com_ (mailto:TSMelillo13@aol.com)


Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

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. However, as of late December 2022, the baths remain closed for actual immersion, but they have developed an alternative plan.

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.


Furthermore, there is this information about the water from the taps at Lourdes:

The Taps

The Water taps at Lourdes
The water taps at Lourdes

Located at the bridge next to the arches, these taps have sufficient pressure to allow you to fill any containers that you might want to take back for yourself or your loved ones.  Be aware, for those traveling by air, most airlines and countries will not allow you to carry liquids on board.  Rules vary, and in many cases a small bottle inside a secure plastic bag may be allowed.

For U.S.A. travelers, 3.4-ounce containers (or smaller) and then placed in one clear, quart-sized bag.
Check with your airline first.

Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

Where did the Assumption take place?

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Little is known about the life of the Blessed Mother after the death of Jesus. And, of course, most protestants only trot her out at Christmas time and then put her back in the box. But, of course, she raised Him from an infant and is revered as holy by not only Catholics but Muslims as well. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church teaches that the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.  And, of course, the Assumption is in the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Certainly, no tomb has ever been found that claimed to hold her relics.

Possible Locations of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in to Heaven:

There are two locations that vie for recognition as the place that Mary was assumed in to heaven: Jerusalem and Ephesus..  Neither one has been approved or dis-approved by the Church.

In Jerusalem, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, there is a cave said to be the tomb of Mary.

Location of the Assumption in Jerusalem:

The earliest known traditions of the location of the assumption was Jerusalem.  It was here that Jesus was crucified, it was her that Mary was protected by the disciples after the Resurrection, and it could be assumed that it was here that she died.

There is no mention of the tomb of Mary in Jerusalem prior to the end of the sixth century.  The Church of the Dormition on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem that claims to be the site of her death. Subsequently, her body was placed in the tomb down the hill at the foot of the Mount of Olives, and that tomb was later discovered to be empty.

And it is in Jerusalem that tradition places her tomb in the dormition abbey belonging to the Benedictine Order in Jerusalem, on Mount Zion just outside the walls of the Old City near the Zion Gate.

Location of the Assumption in Ephesus:

Another location that claims to be the actual site is Ephesus, in modern-day Turkey. The early Christians taught that the Apostle and Evangelist John lived in Asia Minor in the last decades of the first century.  It was from Ephesus that he guided the Churches of that province.

There was a centuries-old tradition that Saint John went there and took Mary in to his house.  The house was in ruins and only re-discovered in October 18, 1881, by relying on the descriptions by Anne Catherine Emmerich.   Based on those description, which proved to be accurate, a French priest, the Abbé Julien Gouyet discovered a small stone building on a mountain overlooking the Aegean in Ephesus. He believed it was the house described by Emmerich and where the Virgin Mary had lived the final years of her life.

Where is the actual site of the Assumption?

Obviously, we don’t have an answer. Since scholars disagree….and we are definitely not scholars…we have to assume that the matter lies open to debate.  We welcome your input.  Just drop us an email or comment below.


Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

New European Visa Requirements Starting Early 2024.

New European Visa Requirements Starting Early 2024. Are You Prepared for ETIAS?

Starting early in 2024, US travelers will need a new document called “ETIAS” to enter the European Union. If you are a US citizen traveling to the EU as a tourist, you will need this ETIAS documentation to enter.

While it is being called by many a “visa requirement,” technically, it is a new pre-arrival authorization.

What is the ETIAS?

The European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, is a new required document for entry to the EU. The online application for tourists and travelers entering the European Union is expected to open in 2024. However, no specific date has been set. Still, we expect this to begin early in the year,

Check out this video from Select International Tours for all the information you need.



So you will want to watch our website and Social Media for more information as it becomes available.

Home » Catholic Travel Blog » blog

August 1st & 2nd The Great Pardon of Assisi

About the Great Pardon of Assisi:

Starting 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:

The tiny portiuncula the chapel built by St. Francis
The portiuncula, or “little portion”

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, so long as they were truly contrite and had confessed their sins.

Up until that 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. Most people could not afford to undertake such travel.

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


You can obtain the Plenary Indulgence of Assisi in any Parish church throughout the world.

If you happen to be in Assisi on August 1st or 2nd,  you can also earn this pardon for yourself or for any departed family member by visiting the Portuincula or any parish church in Assisi.  Originally this also included any Franciscan church throughout the world, but was extended to include any Catholic church (subject to the conditions as shown below).


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 within 8 days at any church before or after visiting the Portuincuca or any Franciscan Church in Assisi or anywhere else in the world..

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.  We wonder what St. Francis, who loved simplicity, would have thought of such an immense Basilica being built here…but of course the Portuincula would probably not have lasted if it were not inside the Basilica.

As you can see here, it is quite small but open to visitors.