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Pope Francis to visit Bonario, Sardinia

Pope Francis has announced only two trips this first year of his Papacy:  World Youth Day in Brazil in July and to the Mediterranean the island of Sardinia, which is part of Italy, to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria (Our Lady of Good Air) to venerate the statue of Our Blessed Mother that has inspired seafarers for centuries. 

At first I did not realize the relationship between this city and his homeland of Argentina.  But after reading more I now understand why this shrine would have such meaning for him. The Conquistadores who came to South America named the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina after this shrine.  Buenos Aires literally means “Good Air”.  Apparently they argued over whether to name it the “City of the Most Holy Trinity” or “The City of Our Lady of Bonaria”.  The sailors, many of whom were from Sardinia and therefore had a devotion to Our Lady of Bonaria prevailed in the argument. The name was later shortened to simply Buenos Aires.

Of course, since Pope Francis is from Argentina he is quite familiar with history of the shrine so it is no surprise that he wishes to pay a visit as many other Popes have done previously.

For more about this shrine check the page on our main website.

Brothers of the Order of Mercy in Bonaria, ItalyThe Shrine has been under the auspices of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (the Mercedians) since its founding in the 14th Century and are active is several areas throughout the world today.  Note the comment below for a description of the above photo.

 To learn more about the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (the Mercedians) click here for their website.

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Great Travel experience: Staying at a Chateau in France

Like many independent Catholic travelers, we like to try unusual things.  Although staying in a chateau is not terribly unusual, it was the first time for us and therefore we considered it outside the norm.  For some reason, we just don’t seem that keen on B&B’s.  Can’t explain it—just prefer hotels.  Perhaps we feel less privacy when staying in someone else’s house rather than a hotel. So when planning a trip to Normandy (mainly the Catholic pilgrimage site of Pontmain, Mont St. Michel & the D-Day beaches) we decided to try a chateau just to see what it was like.  We hopped a train (our favorite way to travel in Europe) from Paris to Lisieux to visit the Shrine of Saint Therese of Lisieux.  It’s only a little over an hour by train and so we spent a day there and then caught the high-speed TGV to the city of Rennes near the Normandy coast where we picked up our rental car.  From here it was a short drive to the Chateau de Bouceel, our choice for this trip.

Chateau Bouceel  in Normandy France
View of the Chateau Bouceel in Normandy France

As you can see, the setting was like something out of Downton Abbey (minus the staff & the British accent).  The chateau itself was beautifully maintained and definitely had atmosphere.  The chateau briefly housed the German army officers for a few months in the summer of 1940 but they later moved elsewhere since the chateau did not have electricity at that time.   The owner pointed out the front steps where his father, as a member of the French Resistance in World War II, was arrested by the Gestapo and was due to be shipped off to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp where he would no doubt be executed.  However, the rail lines had been bombed and since by now the Allies had landed on the Normandy beaches he eventually was freed by the Allies.   With all this history, staying here was a unique experience.

Breakfast at the Chateau Bouceel in Normandy France
A great way to start the day: fresh croissants, coffee, orange juice, cheese and more

We had a car and made day trips to nearby Mont St. Michel, the Normandy Beaches and Pontmain among other sites.

 Our host had a book of cartoons (in French), the cover of which is shown below, detailing his father’s experiences during the war which he signed as follows:

Chateau in Normandy note in book To the brave young heroes from the U.S., Canada, England, Australia….who gave their life and without whom my dad wouldn’t have come back, this book wouldn’t exist….I wouldn’t be here to sign it.

Let’s never forget!

Chateau France BookPeople who prefer a chateau or B& B cite advantages such as individually decorated rooms, direct contact with the owners or the chance to mingle with other independent travelers.

Those who prefer hotels cite the more flexible check-in times (often you cannot come and go as easily), more anonymity, usually a restaurant on the premises.  So I guess it is just a matter of taste.

Certainly, in our case, the chateau fulfilled all our expectations and then some.

How about you?  Do you have any experiences you would like to share with everyone?

 

 

 

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Mother’s Day Mass from the Lourdes Grotto in San Antonio, Texas

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Click here to view the video  Mass from the Oblate Grotto in San Antonio, Texas.  This replica of the Lourdes grotto is one of the most visited places for Catholics in the state of Texas.

For more information about the shrine click here to go to our webpage on the Catholic Travel Guide website.  It is open daily to visitors from all over, but is also a place of worship for locals as well.

In the video you will see Catholic artist Tobin Pilotte with his wife and six beautiful children taking up the gifts.  Isn’t it refreshing to see young Catholics bringing more than 1.6 children in to the world?  One of the tenets of our Faith is that children are a gift from God, not an economic and ecological burden.

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Vatican Announces Pope Francis’ World Youth Day Schedule

Here is the latest press release from the Vatican Information Service (reprinted with permission):

 Vatican City, 7 May 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis will make an apostolic trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 22 to 29 July of this year on the occasion of the 28th World Youth Day (WYD).

Sketch of Pope Francis
A sketch of Pope Francis by Catholic artist Tobin Pilotte

Read moreVatican Announces Pope Francis’ World Youth Day Schedule

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Night at the Museum—Vatican style


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For several years now the Vatican Museums have been open to the public on Friday evenings from May through October,  except for the month of August, when most Italians take their vacations.  These nights are different from the usual Vatican Museum tours in that they offer glimpses into areas not necessarily included in regular tours as well as musical performances by some of Italy’s most talented artists.

Read moreNight at the Museum—Vatican style

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Vatican Garden Tours Resume May 6

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Tours of the Vatican Gardens, one of the hidden treasures of Rome, will resume on May 6, 2013 according to the latest report from the Vatican Museums official website.  

Convent in Vatican GardensThe tours were suspended shortly after it was announced that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would be taking up residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Convent which is located within the Vatican Gardens.  There were certain alterations being made to the building that are now complete and on May 2nd he did indeed leave his temporary residence at the Papal Retreat in Castel Gandolfo and is now residing at the former convent.

Read moreVatican Garden Tours Resume May 6

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Is it safe to travel there right now?

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What a question….sound familiar?   How often have you heard this comment after excitedly announcing your decision to travel to a certain destination?  It seems that as soon as you make plans to visit somewhere then things start to happen: a bombing, an earthquake, or the local populace going on strike.  And of course the media is all over whatever sensational news there might be. That’s how they make their living!

 Well, having been in that position more than once, here is how the conversation usually goes:

Read moreIs it safe to travel there right now?

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI returns to Vatican

It was announced on Rome Reports that Pope Benedict XVI will be traveling from Castel Gandolfo, the Papal summer residence where he has been living the past several weeks, to his new permanent place of residence–a convent within the Vatican Gardens on Thursday, May 2.

Read morePope Emeritus Benedict XVI returns to Vatican

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The Way of Saint James

How often do you stop and reflect? In the rush of a fast-paced society, how frequently does a word or phrase slacken your pace, or perhaps even bring you to a full halt? Every day, I work on improving the experience of pilgrims traveling The Way of St. James. I couldn’t even begin to count how many times I’ve spoken the name of this historic route over the last few months. But this morning, as I read over route details for the hundredth time, perusing hotel schedules, tour guides, and trip agendas, a thought occurred to me that ground my day to an unexpected halt. I realized, rather suddenly, that I knew virtually nothing about St. James!

Read moreThe Way of Saint James

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Travel gets in your blood

Watching some movies tends to bring out the travel bug in many of us.  Older movies such as “the Sound of Music”, or newer ones as well, or perhaps the popular “Rick Steve’s Europe” series.  You are on this blog for one of two reasons, either you like to travel or you are interested in visiting some particular shrine or discovering more about Catholic culture in other places.  Probably it is both.

Read moreTravel gets in your blood