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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Walking the Camino Santiago–the Way of Saint James

If you have spent even a small amount of time studying the basics of church history, you know that the twelve apostles covered a rather expansive amount of ground following the initial wave of persecution in 62 AD. Before the last of the apostles (John) died in AD 100, the Gospel had been spread through most of the Roman Empire and even beyond into the outlying people groups. The routes taken were numerous and the miles walked incredible. Paul, by himself, covered hundreds of miles during his three primary missionary journeys. Thomas was confirmed to have gone as far as India and rumored to have preached in China. While the lines between what is confirmed and what is rumored tend to blur when looking into the apostles’ journeys, today we have the opportunity to walk some of the paths that our forerunners traveled and experience glimpses of the annointings they carried.
As we all already know, it starts in Jerusalem. If you only make one religious themed trip in your lifetime, make Israel, and more specifically Jerusalem, your destination. The apostles were some of the greatest men of God to ever live, but nothing beats walking where Jesus walked, standing where He preached, and praying where He prayed. Like any pilgrimage, it’s an experience you cannot describe, but it is more real than anything you’ve ever experienced. After you’ve explored Jerusalem, a great next step is to follow one of the routes that Paul took up through Eurasia, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to traveling a uniquely beautiful area of the world, you will encounter awe-inspiring Cathedrals, exquisite cultures, and numerous historical sites that will provide contextual learning opportunities concerning the early church.
The next option, and probably the easiest to follow, is El Camino de Santiago, or The Way of St. James. For those unfamiliar with this route, it is actually the most popular pilgrimage in all of Europe. Almost 300,000 travelers embark on some portion of El Camino’s astounding 500 miles of well-marked path. Unlike a piecemeal adventure along the northern border of the Mediterranean, this route is easy to follow and offers a unique social, and subsequently spiritual, experience. The journey ends in the historic town of Santiago de Compostela and the tomb of St. James. The route’s accessibility and ease of travel, particularly on the more frequented 100 mile home-stretch, has resulted in travelers from every age group, religion, and ethnicity finding their way here. For those looking to spread God’s love and the Good News, this route is a fantastic ministry opportunity. Most travelers come with open minds, looking to broaden their understandings and tap into the spiritual world, and you will have no problem connecting with them on a deeper level than you will experience elsewhere. And for those simply looking to grow inwardly, taking  is a safe bet.

The paths are many, although often hard to find. While we should never focus on the past at the expense of the present, it is my personal opinion that we should always be looking to tap into the rich things that have been passed down to us by those who ran the race well. If we want history to remember our faith, it might just help us to walk the paths of those whose faith history already remembers.

Author Bio:  Tiffany Olson loves all things spiritual and travel. She works at a small web firm where her primary duty is to help inform that public on a wide range of interesting topics including all of the wonders found along the way from El Camino to Santiago.

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The Oblate Grotto–a weekend favorite in San Antonio, Texas

Oblate GrottoSan Antonio is one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. and every weekend we get requests on our main website for information regarding the Oblate Grotto in San Antonio.  Many visitors to the city are looking for a place to attend Mass and apparently the Oblate Grotto is one of the most popular.

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