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WYD venues changed for Saturday & Sunday

It seems that the rain never quits.  Although it has apparently not dampened the enthusiasm of what could be over one million young people—as well as Pope Francis—it has resulted in flooding of the original planned site for the Vigil Mass on Saturday evening as well as the closing ceremonies on Sunday.  

No doubt this is a disappointment to those who worked so hard to set everything up, but the weather dictated otherwise.

Therefore these events have been moved to Copacabana Beach.  The schedule remains the same.  And as we said, enthusiasm remains high, and Pope Francis seems to draw energy from the crowds.  We will keep you updated on any changes in the next 24 hours.

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Are Travel Guidebooks passé?

Earlier this year the venerable “Frommer’s” travel guides were purchased by Google and soon thereafter it was announced that they would discontinue publishing the travel guides in book form.  Word on the street is that Google was mainly interested in the social media followers of Frommer’s, not in publishing guidebooks, so they sold the publishing rights back to Arthur Frommer and the good news is that he will continue to publish the books. 

A frommer's guide book from 2000
Even an older guide book can have a lot of great information….and you can probably pick them up cheap at a used book store.

So are guide books still useful?  Well, let me give you my “two cents”.  Guide books are still a great planning tool: you can lay them out on the table, flip from page to page and share with one another much easier than if you were on a computer or tablet.  Also, you can highlight items that are of interest to you.  Even an old guide book that might seem out of date can provide great insights you may not find on a website.

Once you’re on the road, a guide book can be invaluable to you. Although most travel websites are now adapted for mobile use, and there are many apps available as well, there are times when a guide book is more convenient, especially if you have bookmarked or highlighted pertinent pages when planning.

So bottom line…..both guide books and travel websites together can help you plan the trip of a lifetime. Hint….check out our website first!

We offer reliable guidebooks that are carefully selected for Catholic travelers.  Together with secular guide books they are a great resource. If we can quote Rick Steves, he said something like “$30 tools for $3,000 experiences.

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Relics of Saints to be venerated at WYD 2013 in Rio

The veneration of relics is an age-old tradition in the Church, and no, we do not worship them as some people might think.  It is a tradition going back to the early days of the Church to venerate them as reminders of the holiness of these great Christians.  As the originator of World Youth Day, John Paul II obviously had a great connection to this event.  A vial of his blood was sent to World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011 and has again been sent to World Youth Day in Rio to be venerated by the faithful.  

This vial arrived in Rio in early July and will remain in Rio for several weeks after World Youth Day officially ends on July 28th so that visitors and locals alike will have the opportunity venerate his relic. 

Among other relics at WYD in Rio are the body of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam and St. Antônio Galvão de Santana, the first Brazilian-born Saint. 

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Pope Francis to celebrate Mass at the Jesuit Church in Rome July 31st

According to Vatican sources, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the Church of the Gesu (home Church of the Jesuits) in Rome on July 31. This is the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order.  Pope Francis will celebrate the closing Mass of World Youth day in Brazil on Sunday July 28th and is due back from World Youth Day on Monday, July 29.   We do not have the details of the Mass yet (the time or whether it is open to the public) but will try to find out in the next few days.

If you are in Rome, whether this July 30th or any other time, we encourage you to visit the Gesu Church.  In addition to its architectural beauty (the “domed” ceiling is not actually a dome, but is painted to look like one) you can also visit the rooms next door where Saint Ignatius lived out the last 17 years of his life.

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Relics of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati arrive at WYD 2013

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati holding cigarIn a time when young people are under attack from so many secular sources, Blessed Pier Giorgio is truly a man for our times. He showed that a Christian can be fun-loving and devout at the same time.  Born to a wealthy family, he loved to ski, smoked cigars and clown around just as most young people.  His sense of humor was well-known and he loved to pray practical jokes.  At the same time he let all his actions be guided by his Catholic faith.  

But he was best known for his efforts at social justice and service to the poor that he exhibited throughout his short life—he died July 4, 1925 at the age of 24 from Polio.  In 1981 his body was exhumed and found to be incorrupt. In 1989 Pope John Paul II traveled to visit his tomb at the family plot in Pollone, Italy before it was moved to the Cathedral in Turin.  And it was Pope John Paul II who Beatified him in 1990.  

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Relics of John Paul II are now in Rio for WYD 2013

Pope John Paul II is the one who organized the first World Youth Day back in 1985.  The first one was a relatively small event held in Rome, but it has now grown to be an international sensation for young Catholics from countries all over the globe.  So it is very fitting that the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported that the relics of John Paul II reached the Brazilian capital on Sunday July 7th.  They will be on display at various locations throughout World Youth Day  Pope John Paul II made four visits to Rio during his Pontificate, the last being in 1997 for the World Meeting of Families.

In addition to the World Youth Day there is an art display from July 9th through October 13th entitled  “In the Footsteps of Christ”, with masterpieces from Italy and the Vatican at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Rio. It primarily contains  works by the most famous artists, painters and sculptors, ranging from the year 1400 to 1800, most of which have never been seen in Latin America.

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Canonization of John Paul II

For many, the only Pope they knew for many years was Pope John Paul II.  Having served as our Holy Father from 1978 until 2005, he was one of the longest reigning Popes in history.  Remembering his frail state of health at the end of his earthly life it is easy to forget how young and dynamic he was back when he first became Pope. A man who like to hike, ski and even clown around a bit, he was a bit of a change from Popes of the past.

Certainly his role on the world stage was unique:  helping to bring down the fall of Communism in his native Poland and traveling to over 124 countries set him apart from is predecessors.

With such a popular Pope it became obvious that there would be pressure to elevate him to Sainthood as early as possible.  One obstacle was removed by Pope Benedict XVI, that of the five year waiting period before the process could begin.

JP II Mexico CityCertainly he elevated many to Sainthood himself.  Here is a photo we took in 2005 when he Canonized Saint Juan Diego in Mexico City.  Although his health had obviously begun to fail he still traveled half-way across the world for this event.

The pathway to Sainthood is obviously well under way, and that means lots of speculation as to when it will take place. Many people are hoping for October, while others say it just can’t be before December since that takes too much time to prepare for such an event and still others say it won’t be until next year.  We know Pope Francis is a man of unexpected surprises, so I would not bet on any of these dates.  He does what he wants, when he wants, and that will be the case here as well.

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Summer Organ Recitals at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

During the months of July and August the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. will be offering their Summer Organ Recital Series. Performances are  Sundays, July through August, at 6:00 p.m. in the Crypt Church. Admission is free although there is a goodwill offering taken.  Here are the details of each performance at the Basilica and those who are performing.

July 7            Michael Lodico        St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square

July 14         Peter Latona   Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

July 21        Timothy Duhr     Holy Trinity Parish, Georgetown

July 28       Benjamin Straley     Washington National Cathedral

August 4  Russell Weismann  Basilica of the Nat’l Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

August 11  Josh Stattford   Saint Paul Parish, K Street & Saint John the Beloved, McLean

August 18        Adam Detzner     Stanford University

 August 25  Benjamin LaPrairie    Basilica of the Nat’l Shrine of the Immaculate Conception



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Egypt in the News


As we watch the events unfold in Egypt, it might be interesting to consider the reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Zeitoun  Here is a video concerning the apparitions.


Obviously we don’t encourage anyone to travel there right now, but it will be interesting to look back some day and ponder the significance of her appearance in this predominantly Muslim nation, with an ancient Coptic Christian minority..

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Pope Francis’ Summer Schedule Update


We announced previously that there would be no Wednesday Public Public audiences in July but that is now extended through the month of August.   Nevertheless, Pope Francis will be busy.

On Monday July 8th he will travel to the island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily.  It is to this island that many refugees from north Africa (only about 90 miles away) flee and often die in the attempt.   Those who do survive the trip then are held in temporary quarters which are filled beyond capacity and this naturally places a strain on local facilities. Recently some 10 immigrants drowned trying to reach the island.  On this trip  Pope Francis will be dropping a ceremonial wreath in the waters off the coast in memory of all who lost their lives on this perilous journey through the years. 

Plans were previously announced for him to travel to Castel Gandolfo on Sunday, July 14th to lead the Angelus.  Normally the public attends the Angelus when the Pope says it, either in Rome or Castel Gandolfo.  However, we are trying to confirm that this is still on his schedule.  Also, we’ve heard that Pope Francis will be in Castel Gondolfo, as previous popes  have, for the Feast of the Assumption (August 15), but are still trying to verify that.  If you have any information please let us know.

He will travel to World Youth Day in Rio from July 21st through July 30th.

So if you had planned to see Pope Francis in Rome this summer we think you will probably be disappointed.  We don’t expect the weekly Papal audiences to begin before September.