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What do we know about Saint Joseph?

What do we know about Saint Joseph?

Saint Joseph is the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sacred Scripture tells us that Saint Joseph worked as a carpenter. as we know from Matthew 13:55, when the Nazarenes ask about Jesus, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?“.  Although Joseph was a descendant of the House of David, he was not a rich man.  We can assume that not only from his occupation but also from the fact that when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised, he and the Blessed Virgin Mary offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons….something that was only allowed for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

We know that he was an honorable man, because he could have easily avoided marrying the Blessed Virgin Mary when he found out that she was pregnant:

Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.  He did as the angel told him and took Mary as his wife. (Matthew 1:19-25)

Scripture does not tell us much more about Saint Joseph.  We know he fled to Egypt with Mary until it was safe to return. Saint Joseph is last mentioned when Scripture describes Mary and Joseph not being able to find Jesus for three days before discovering Him in the Temple (Luke 3:41-52).

Sacred Scripture does not record Saint Joseph’s presence during Jesus’ public life, death, or resurrection. Therefore, many historians believe that Saint Joseph likely died before Jesus entered public ministry, although that is just supposition.

Saint Joseph as Patron Saint:

Saint Joseph is the patron saint of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus’ public life as mentioned above, it is likely that he died with Jesus and Mary close to him.  Saint Joseph is also patron saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, expectant mothers, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and all working people.

We celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19. 

In many of the churches named in his honor, there is a Saint Joseph’s Table displayed on his feast day.

Apparitions of Saint Joseph:

Although not as numerous as the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph has appeared to others over the course of history.  Among these approved apparitions are the following:

1519-1660:  Cotignac, France

1879:  Knock, Ireland 

1917:  Fatima Portugal

1994-1998:  Itapiranga, Brazil

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Those Monks knew a lot about business practices! Just check these out

The following is Courtesy of “The Catholic CEO”

Many think that western business leaders invented business concepts…..This is not correct.

Followers may guess my views on the monastic life.

Monasteries invented data storage and retrieval systems. They were called libraries. They also didn’t need photocopiers – they had their own copiers.

Monasteries invented business governance practices. What is a chapter but a town hall meeting? What is an abbot’s council but an executive committee?

Abbeys invented fund-raising. How do you think they built the great abbeys of Europe? Very little of the money was “borrowed”. Abbots had to work the room long before corporate America thought of it.

Conservation? Green practices? Circular economy? The monks were doing this 1500 years ago. There’s nobody in ag-tech that can build a water recirculation system like the monks. There’s nobody that can get that extra inch of hair on a sheep like monks can.

Crop science? Crop yield? Hah. They still run circles around people who can’t even grow crops on the same land for more than about 50 years. They do centuries of crop yields from the same fields – naturally.

Business management systems. The monks were doing it long before the invention of double entry bookkeeping.

Staying out of bank debt. The monks were doing it long before anyone else realized the debt trap of usury.

Five star hospitality? Well, I don’t mean rooms like in luxury hotels. But for care of the pilgrim traveler, even at great inconvenience to them, they still have short term rental accommodations beat.

Ride sharing? Hah. They had a network of wagons and watercraft to take goods to market before some business guy thought of it.

The long view? Abbeys are built for a thousand years. They are beautiful, unlike the glitzy towers of today’s utilitarian monstrosities.

Radio and electronic communications networks. Okay, maybe not as fast – but they could get a message across Europe before anyone or any current tech, at the time.

The knowledge economy? They didn’t need Chat GPT or AI. They had “real I”.

Corporate structure? CEO. CTO. CFO. CMO. Treasurer. Hah. They had those 1500 years ago!

Investigations into employee theft, missing inventory, and other misdeeds. No need for such things. The monks have a process called “Chapter of Faults”. Check it out.

Company security. Nope. They’ve had 1500 years of knights and templars. Way before the idea of a police force came into being.

Finally, remember that the monks invented the university system, the hospital system, and the welfare system. They kept the culture alive in tough times, and will do so again in our era when it all collapses. Or when the asteroid hits!

I could go on.

You can learn more about “The Catholic CEO” here.

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2025 Will be a Jubilee Year

About the Jubilee Year 2025:

It was announced by Pope John Paul II at the end of the Great Jubilee (December 24, 1999 to January 6, 2001), that there will be a jubilee year every 25 years.   Therefore, the year 2025 will be a Jubilee Year, beginning on December 24, 2024 and ending on January 6, 2026.

A Jubilee Year is a special year of grace, in which the Catholic Church offers the faithful the possibility of asking for a plenary indulgence (the remission of sins for themselves or for deceased relatives).  A bit different from the secular calendar, the year starts on December 24.

Opening of the Holy Door in Rome to start the jubilee year
Opening of the Holy Door…Courtesy Vatican News Service

The most well-known rite that starts the Jubilee Year is the opening of the Holy Door in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

This is followed on successive days by opening the Holy Doors on the other 3 Major Basilicas: Saint John Lateran, Saint Paul Outside the Walls and Saint Mary Major.

These doors remain open until the end of the Jubilee, when they are once again walled up.

If you plan to travel to Rome, The Pilgrims’ Center – Info Point is the main reference place for pilgrims and tourists who want to stay updated about the upcoming Jubilee Year 2025.  They are located 7 Via della Conciliazione, right near the Vatican.

The Pilgrims’ Center people can find out the main ways of participating in pilgrimages to the Holy Door and learn about preparatory events for the Jubilee, as well as find out about volunteering.  It is also a distribution point for information leaflets and flyers containing basic information about the Jubilee and the various pilgrim routes round Rome such as the Seven Churches Pilgrimage, the pilgrim route of the Female Doctors of the Church and the Patrons of Europe and the Churches of Europe itinerary. A team of staff will be always available at the Info Point.

You can find out more from the official website of the 2025 Jubilee Year here.

There will be other Holy Doors for the 2025 Jubilee Year in addition to the ones in Rome.

For example, the Holy Door at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. In preparation for the 2025 Jubilee Year the Holy Door was sealed and blessed on the First Sunday of Advent (Dec. 3, 2023) at noon by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio.   There will undoubtedly be other Holy Doors in churches and shrines throughout the world for those who cannot travel to Rome…we just don’t have all  the locations at this time.


The Jubilee Year 2025 Pilgrims Center in Rome:

As the Jubilee Year approaches the Pilgrims’ Center will increasingly become a welcome point for those arriving in Rome, as well as the hub for organizing bookings and access requests. It will also distribute the ‘testimonium’ ……..a certificate that Saint Peter’s Basilica issues on request, as certification of the pilgrimage to all those who have traveled at least 100 km (62 miles) on foot or 200 km (124 miles) by bicycle to Rome. This journey must be verifiable by the stamps placed on the pilgrim’s credential for pilgrims. Given its position on the Via della Conciliazione (very close to the Vatican, and one of our favorite streets) it will also serve as a reference point for all eventualities for both pilgrims and volunteers.


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Are we done with ugly churches?

Those modern ugly churches:

It is impossible not to notice that many Catholic churches built in the last 50 years lack the beauty and majesty of the churches in the years and centuries of the past.  Many lay the blame on Vatican II, which seemed to want to throw tradition out the window.  We are not here to debate the good and bad of the Second Vatican Council, but certainly no one can deny that many of the changes relating to church architecture were not inspirational.  Suddenly churches were built somewhat resembling bomb shelters, and the interiors were devoid of many of the things that made the church a Catholic church.

Inside, the Eucharist was placed out of sight, or at least not in a prominent place.  Stained glass windows and statues were minimalized.  Altar rails quickly disappeared.  Statues?  Not too many and often not prominent.  Often times, it was the Diocesan building committees that wanted this…not the individual pastors or their congregations.  Want to put the tabernacle front and center?  You were lucky it was (literally, in some cases) in a closet somewhere.

Side Altar is Chartres Cathedra
Side Altar in Chartres Cathedral

For example, when we look at the magnificent Chartres Cathedral in France, built between 1134 and 1260, during the  “Dark Ages” (they weren’t really all that dark if you look at church architecture….some of the most beautiful churches were built during this time.)

Cathedrals and churches were meant to be inspiring….and many of them still are today.  We doubt the same will be said about some of these modern buildings 100 years from now .

To the left is just one of the many side altars in Chartres Cathedral.


One of the colors used in the windows is unique…..dubbed “Chartres Blue”. In future centuries, will these new churches be equally inspiring?  We doubt it.

Of course, some of the construction revolves on making the buildings less expensive to build and more efficient so far as heating and cooling costs are concerned.  And while it is true that the Eucharist is the same no matter what the church looks like, we do like to enter a place that evokes a certain feeling that this is no ordinary space.

Is the pendulum starting to swing back?

Like any idea that is taken to excess, we are starting to see a renewed interest in Catholic churches that look like…..Catholic churches.

We list several of these churches on our site, most recently Saint Mary’s Church in Fennimore, Wisconsin as shown on the left.

The restoration work was done by Conrad Schmitt Studios.  We have no relationship with them, but they appear to do outstanding restoration work for churches.

Another beautiful church…not a restoration, but a brand new construction, is Saint Francis Xavier Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Another source we note is that of FyndersKeepers.  They offer a large range of used and restored altars, altar rails, stations of the cross, candle holders….just about everything you can think of.

Again, we do not have a business relationship with them, but they appear to have an excellent reputation.

Have any suggestions for newly remodeled churches?

Please leave a comment….we would love to know about it.

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Online event: What is Happening to the Christians in Gaza

Program to help Christians in GazaIf you want to know the truth of what is happening to Christians in Gaza, we invite you to join this presentation by Select International Tours on March 14th at 8:00 PM Eastern time. Jeff Cavins and Fr. Leo Patalinghug will host a live online event Thursday, March 14, 2024 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

If you have traveled with Select International Tours, you may know that in addition to running a pilgrimage company, they also run a charitable foundation called Select to Give, an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2014.

What you may not know is the purpose and the scope of their foundation. You may not know that their primary focus is to help the suffering Christians who live in Bethlehem and Gaza. Select to Give is a large part of their mission, and they are grateful to each of you who has taken the time to learn about the foundation and support their work in the past.

The online event will be hosted by Jeff Cavins and Fr. Leo Patalinghug, with guests including Gus Lloyd, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Fr. David Michael Moses, as well as Christians from the Holy Land who share their personal experience of the current situation in the Holy Land.

You will hear from a Select to Give American volunteer who has chosen to live in Bethlehem during the last six months to help those in need the most. A very special guest will be the Pastor of Holy Family Church, the only Catholic Parish in Gaza. You can hear a first-hand testimonial from someone we can trust who lives in Gaza.

Click here to view the Live Presentation on March 14

The event will hosted on the Apostle website and will begin promptly at 8:00 PM. Please be sure to click the link above  and create a Free Login with your email beforehand.

Donations: If you would like to support this effort, they will be accepting tax-deductible donations via credit card during the event. If you wish to donate by mail, please make your check payable to Select to Give, Inc. and mail it to:

Select to Give, Inc.
c/o Select International Tours
85 Park Ave.
Flemington, NJ 08822

A tax letter confirming your donation will be sent via email within 10 business days of the event.

Please help us promote this exceptional chance to learn from Christians currently residing in the Holy Land. Utilize the image and links above on your social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or via emails and texts. By broadening this campaign’s reach, they can connect with more Christians concerned about the struggles of our brethren in the Holy Land.


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Holy Year 2025

The Vatican office in charge of coordinating plans for the Holy Year 2025 announced they are launching a new website and releasing an app to help people register and to guide them along their pilgrimage in Rome.

By registering online at jubilaeum2025.va or on the jubilee app, people will receive a free digital “pilgrim’s card,” which will be needed to participate in jubilee events, especially gaining access to the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica, said Msgr. Graham Bell, undersecretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization’s section that is coordinating the Holy Year.

The jubilee website was to go live May 10 and be available in nine languages, he said at a news conference at the Vatican May 9.

People can begin registering online starting in September, he said, “by clicking on the ‘participate’ button.” After registering, people will be able to access a personal page on the site’s “pilgrim’s zone,” which will also go live in September.

Registrants will receive a digital “pilgrim’s card,” which is a personal QR code needed to access jubilee events and better facilitate the pilgrimage to the Holy Door, the monsignor said. There also will be an option to purchase a “service card” for a nominal fee to receive special discounts for transportation, lodging, food and museums during the pilgrimage.

The jubilee website and app will give news and information on the Holy Door of St. Peter’s and the other basilicas as well as offer the possibility of organizing one’s own pilgrimage within the city, Msgr. Bell said.

People can choose from three proposed pilgrimages: “the traditional pilgrimage of St. Philip Neri with the seven churches; the pilgrimage on the churches dedicated to the women doctors of the church and patrons of Europe; and the ‘Iter Europaeum,’ that is, the 28 churches in 27 different European countries, plus the church that represents the European Union.”

Holy Year 2025 logo
This is the logo chosen by the Vatican for the Holy Year 2025. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)


“Tools are being prepared to better introduce pilgrims into these paths and to promote knowledge of the works of art in the various churches,” he said. It marks “an important effort carried out in agreement with the (Italian) Ministry of Tourism, which will encourage the discovery of many places often unknown to tourists themselves.”

“Rome has always been a cultural attraction and our aim is that the pilgrim may also become a tourist, just as the tourist may be fascinated by the pilgrim experience,” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, pro-prefect of the section.

Starting in September, he said, they will open an exhibition “with works by the great Spanish Renaissance artist, El Greco.”

The pieces “have never left Spain and are being made available for this very occasion,” he said. The exhibit will be held in the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone facing onto Piazza Navona and will feature El Greco’s three masterpieces: “The Baptism of Christ,” “Christ Carrying the Cross” and “Christ Blessing.”

Other art exhibits will take place throughout the run-up to and during the jubilee, including ones that will rotate into places like hospitals and prisons, he said. “We want as much as possible for these events to have free access, in order to encourage the participation of citizens in the contemplation of beauty that allows a better relationship with the city and its people.”

Archbishop Fisichella said Pope Francis has asked Catholics worldwide to prepare for the next jubilee year by spending 2023 studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council, especially its four constitutions, which focused on: the liturgy; the church as the people of God; Scripture; and the role of the church in the modern world.

“In order to help local churches in their catechetical, human and especially Christian formation paths, and to give younger people the opportunity to know and rediscover the central contents of the council,” he said, the dicastery published a series of 35 small volumes titled, “Council Notebooks,” in December.

The “notebooks” have already been translated into Spanish in one hardcover volume titled, “Cuadernos del Concilio,” he said, and they are now being translated into English by ATC Publishers-India.

Since the pope wants 2024 to be dedicated to prayer in preparation for the jubilee, the dicastery will publish an in-depth series called “Notes on Prayer” to promote “the centrality of prayer, personal and communal,” the archbishop said.

“We are studying the possibility of a ‘school of prayer’ with pathways that would cover the vast world of prayer,” he added.

The opening and closing dates of the jubilee year will be announced in the pope’s “Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee, which will be published according to tradition on the feast of the Ascension, May 9, 2024,” Archbishop Fisichella said.

The ordinary jubilee will begin with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica in December 2024, he said, and there will be “major jubilee events” throughout 2025. For example, Jan. 24, 2025, will be dedicated to the World of Communications, May 30-June 1, 2025, will be dedicated to families, and July 28-Aug. 3, 2025, will be dedicated to young people.

The archbishop also announced that Italian composer Francesco Meneghello was the winner of the competition for an original score for the official hymn for the Holy Year 2025 that highlights its theme, “Pilgrims of Hope.” The lyrics were written by Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, an Italian theologian, composer and musician.

The city of Rome has estimated more than 30 million people will come to Rome for the jubilee year.

At least 87 public works projects are set to begin at an initial cost of 1.8 billion euro. Projects include revamping key areas, increasing accessibility and transport, and improving reception services and infrastructure.

Contact information  info@iubilaeum2025.va


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The future of pilgrimage travel 2024-2025

This article is courtesy of Select International Tours:

The Future of Pilgrimage Travel 2024-2025

A New Year is upon us again, and we are excited to see all that 2024 brings. We are seeing signs of hope for returning to Israel in 2024. Greece is becoming a very hot destination, and the coming Jubilee year in Italy is causing quite a stir. Read on to learn more.

Holy Land:  Signs of Hope

Of all the things we are hoping and praying for in 2024, the resolution of hostilities in the Holy Land is at the top of our list. Thankfully, we are seeing signs of life returning to normal in Israel, which makes us believe that travel there may be possible soon.

In the last few weeks, Israel has told citizens in the North to return to their homes after months living in hotels in and around Jerusalem. The northern checkpoint into Gaza has been opened, and people are returning to the area. Children returned to school, and hotels across the region reopened. Several European and Asian airlines have resumed regular flights in and out of Tel Aviv and US carriers have announced dates in February and March when they too will resume flights. Pilgrimage groups from Europe and Asia are on the ground and reporting having safe pilgrimages.

Encouraging Words from Our Guides in the Holy Land:  One of our chief guides, Hani Awwad, has been touring the US since January 1, speaking with Groups who are excited to return or visit the Holy Land for the first time. He tells us that he and other guides have been taking groups from Europe and Asia to most of the sites we regularly visit over the past month and a half or so. All the trips have been rewarding and without incident. The only major Christian sites still closed to tourists are in Bethlehem; however, they are expected to reopen in the next thirty days.

Travel to the Holy Land Resuming Shortly:  If you have a trip planned for May or later, plan on traveling. You will have an amazing experience as crowds will be reduced, and the people there will be very excited to welcome you to the Holy Land after being shut down for several months. If you, or someone you know, traveled to the Holy Land following the Pandemic, you will remember how easy and special it was to travel there before the crowds returned in force.

Greece: destination of choice for early 2024

Greece seems to be the destination of choice for early 2024. We have several groups departing to follow in the footsteps of St. Paul, and with good reason: the weather is mild, the scenery is breathtaking, the food is superb, and the places of spiritual significance are plentiful!

Next to the Holy Land, no place on Earth will change how you read the Holy Scriptures more than Greece. Most of St. Paul’s letters were written there. He spent a lot of time in the area ministering, and it is easy to imagine yourself standing alongside him as you tour through the well-preserved ancient cities mentioned in scripture.

If you’re looking to shake off the cold of Winter in the US, we have several trips to Greece departing this Spring and early Summer. Check them out HERE.

Italy:  New Property near the Vatican

We have just secured a new property in a Religious House within walking distance of the Vatican. This location will give pilgrims an incredible opportunity to explore and pray on their own during free time. Finding accommodations this close to the Vatican is always challenging, so we are very excited to offer another fabulous place to stay. A bonus is a garden, a private chapel, and dinners in restaurants, as the sisters are only serving breakfast at this time.

Just imagine stepping out the door of your hotel and strolling over to Saint Peter’s Square!

We are very happy about this new option for accommodations, especially with the lack of hotel space we are already seeing for travel in 2025.

2025 is going to be a Jubilee Year!

If you are hoping to plan a trip for 2025, Italy should be high on your list. 2025 is a Jubilee Year! What does that mean?

A Jubilee year is a “special year of grace.” The Jubilee starts on December 24, 2024 and goes until December 14, 2025. During the Jubilee, pilgrims who pass through the Holy Doors opened for the occasion have an opportunity to ask for a plenary indulgence. While the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica marks the beginning of the Jubilee, the Holy Doors of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, and the Basilica of St. Mary Major will also open their Holy Doors for the Jubilee. Many of our tours will include an opportunity to walk through all four!

Shroud of Turin on Display?

Normally the Shroud of Turin, kept in Turin, Italy is not on display.  While no official notice has been given, we believe that the Shroud of Turin may be displayed during the Jubilee year. This was the case 10 years ago, during the last Jubilee. If this chance comes up again, you can be sure that pilgrims will be flocking to see it. It will be another experience that will make a pilgrimage to Italy in 2025 extra special.

Restrictions for travel in Venice:

Due to incredible crowds and large groups, Venice is taking new measures to restrict the number of visitors daily. New regulations are set to take place starting in June, limiting group size to 25 per group in addition to other restrictions. Florence, Portofino, and Rome are also in the process of announcing new restrictions.

Eucharistic Miracles:

Add to all this the fact that the Catholic Church is going through a Eucharistic revival, and Italy is loaded with Eucharistic miracles, like those at Lanciano, Bolsena-Orvieto, and Sienna! It has us wondering what God might have planned for this Jubilee year.

We already have trips in the works for 2025. You can see them HERE, as they open for registration….. but with so much happening in Italy in 2025, you might consider running a pilgrimage for your group or Parish. If you have a group of 20 or more people, give us a call at 1-800-842-4842, and let’s talk about planning your trip.

In Conclusion

There is a lot to look forward to in 2024 and 2025. But it all starts by saying, “Yes!” So assemble your family and friends, pull out a calendar, and start planning your pilgrimage trip! Remember, we only need 10 participants to start a group!

With over 100 trips on our website, and more being added each week, there are plenty of opportunities to travel somewhere extraordinary. We hope you’ll join us and we can’t wait to see you out there.

Note from the Catholic travel guide:  We like the idea of these restrictions in Rome, Venice and elsewhere.  It means smaller crowds and more access to the sites you want to visit…not to mention helping to preserve some of these precious sites.  Just be sure to book with Select International for the best group travel possible!

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Want to help the Christians in the Holy Land?

Wondering how you might be able to help Christians living 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 do live there face discrimination and worse.  And, of course, the ongoing war in Gaza has made things even more difficult.  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 International Tours 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.

Local Catholic residents in the Holy LandSelect 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. They work on several projects to assist Christians with education, medical care, financial support, and meeting basic human needs.

Palestinian Christian children in the Holy Land
Palestinian Christian children in the Holy Land The goal is to recognize and maximize human potential in Christian communities by establishing programs that provide opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, social justice and community building.

Select to Give sends 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.

An added bonus when you sign up to travel with Select International Tours, regardless of destination….. a percentage of your registration fee is donated to Select to Give, with no additional cost to you.

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

And here is a video from 2020 that describes Select to Give and its founder, Edita Krunic.

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You can receive a plenary indulgence by praying in front of a nativity scene located in a Franciscan church from Dec 8, 2023 to Feb 2, 2024

A Plenary Indulgence for the 800th Anniversary of the Approval of the Rule of St. Francis

This Christmas season, Catholics can receive a plenary indulgence by praying in front of a nativity scene located in a Franciscan church which includes our very own, St. Francis of Assisi. The indulgence will be available from December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, through February 2, 2024, the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those wishing to receive the indulgence must pray in front of a nativity scene at a Franciscan church.

A plenary indulgence is a grace granted by the Catholic Church that removes the temporal punishment due to sin. In order to receive this indulgence, one must have a detachment from all sin, including venial; receive the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of confession within 20 days of praying in front of a nativity scene. In addition, those attempting to receive the indulgence must pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

“We ask you to share this “privilege” in all our locations, which fits in well with the special relationship that was established between Saint Francis and the Church when he asked the Pope for the indulgence of those who visited the Porziuncola, and we hope that it will be an opportunity for communion and spiritual renewal for every brother and sister. in the entire Franciscan family,” said the conference in a statement.

In 1223, St. Francis created the first nativity scene in Greccio, Italy, to marvel at the mystery of the incarnation.

Here is a list of Franciscan churches throughout the world.

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My loving tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe


I am a person who does not like crowds, so you would think that attending the Feast Day celebrations of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City on December 12 would be something I would avoid at all costs.  After all, well over one million (some estimates say 5 million) people pack the shrine on the Feast Day.  And yet I have always relished the times that I have been blessed to attend.

Join me as I reminisce about my first visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. On the evening prior to the Feast Day, those of us in our tour group who were more adventuresome decided to taxi to the Basilica. Traditionally many famous Mexican singers, performers and high ranking politicians show up for the festivities that start around 10:00 p.m. This lovely tribute goes on deep into the night and the love songs (Las Mananitas”) sung to Our Lady and the devotion the locals show for her is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  These are memories I’ll hold deep in my heart forever.

On the Feast Day itself (December 12th) we excitedly boarded our tour bus to take us to the Basilica.   But what a surprise was waiting for us!  Buses were restricted from getting too close to the shrine and we had to be dropped off quite a few blocks from there.  At this point we walked the rest of the way….something that turned out to be a blessing.  As usual, God’s plans are better than ours.

The Feast Day is a family event..here a man brings his young child to the Basilica.
The Feast Day is a family event..here a man brings his young child to the Basilica.

As we walked along with throngs of others all headed in the same direction, we experienced a real feeling of pilgrimage; unity with our fellow Catholics.  Those alongside us were mostly Mexican pilgrims, both individuals and whole families, carrying placards of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many had walked for miles, and sometimes for days, to get here.  We passed young people rousing themselves from sleep as they had camped out overnight.  These heartwarming images help you to appreciate how universal and vibrant our Catholic Faith is.

There is more to the Shrine than just the Basilica that contains the miraculous Tilma of Juan Diego, although that is certainly the high point.  I think many of us were surprised that the grounds encompass both the new and old Basilica (now leaning as if it will fall any moment).

You can also see the room where Saint Juan Diego lived out the rest of his life after the apparitions and his simple grave.

Upon entering the grounds where the Basilica is located, we were presented with a kaleidoscope of sights.

We were greeted by descendants of those original Aztecs dancing in the ancient dress as would have been worn at the pagan festivals prior to the apparitions to Juan Diego. The dancers reverently process in to the Basilica symbolizing the shift from the old pagan religion to the new religion of Christianity that they now so enthusiastically embrace.  The colorful dancers add a festive atmosphere to the Celebration of the feast day.


But what moved me the most was that in the midst of it all was the Monastery built atop the Hill of Tepeyac (shown in the top portion of the picture on the left).  This is where Juan Diego first encountered Our Lady!  To stand in that same spot is a feeling that is hard to describe.

The climb is steep, but unlike the time of the apparitions, there are now stairs to make the climb relatively easy (remember you are at a high altitude, so go easy if you have breathing problems).

The nuns in the monastery are cloistered, so visitors are not allowed.


It might seem more like a carnival than a religious event….. because the Mexican people do not pigeon-hole their faith in to just one hour on Sundays.  It is a part of their daily life.

One of the native dancers

Faith, culture and daily life all come together in this magical land, and nowhere is that more evident than here on December 12th each year.

If you can’t make it to the Shrine on that date, try to find some of the many festivals nearby celebrating this Patroness of the Americas.  Or maybe you can catch some of the action on one of the Spanish-language TV networks (don’t even need to speak Spanish to enjoy the celebration)  or perhaps one of the Catholic TV networks such as EWTN.