We arrived in Rome late on Monday and had to walk down the stairs from the plane on the tarmac to the bus AGAIN … suggestion: don’t ever fly TAP Airlines! We hurried to the rental car place and stood in line for an hour … finally got our “pilgrimage car”. We couldn’t leave the airport because we had to stop and get instructions on how to use the car. It had more buttons and switches than the airplane did. Not bad though since the drivers seat gives you a massage as you drive. It’s a Hybrid Diesel and I hope that the mileage will be good since fuel is only $9 buck a gallon over here.
I had previously set “Princess” (our GPS) for a scenic route from out of Rome and over the mountain range to our first hotel to prepare Susan for our trip. Susan didn’t even know we were in the mountains as she tried to learn the GPS that was in our rental car and start coordinating our driving pilgrimage, the files, the car, etc.
We stopped on the way to our first hotel and picked up “supplies” at the store, planning to enjoy our first “picnic” in our hotel room while we organized for our journey. We got to the hotel around 7PM and, finally at about 8:30 PM we called it quits from pure exhaustion. I think I was fast asleep by 9PM.
After a couple of Cappuccinos early in the morning, we headed out to our first destination on our pilgrimage … St. Rita of Cascia. We arrived a little late for Mass … only because we were flagged down by two police officers for a spot check! It was the first time in six trips to Europe that I have ever had to use or “show” my International Driver’s License. The police officers didn’t know how to read it … one of the officers spoke a little (very little) English. After he finally found my photo in the Intl. Passport, I guess he assumed we were okay to let go. His only question was “where go now????”. We said St. Rita of Cascia. He said “where next” … We said Roccaporena. He asked “rental car”? I shook my head ‘yes’ as I said “no, officer, I brought the car over on the plane”! He smiled and he motioned for us to move on.
Mass at any shrine is always very spiritual and this one was a little more special since we had been here before. After the mass we did the tourist thing taking pictures, we already have but to send to those of you who haven’t seen them. Waiting for the small crowd to leave the tomb of the saint. We finally made our way over and while praying a nun came out behind the cage and motioned for all those left to come over where you could venerate St. Rita’s cane and were given 3 rose pedals. The last time we were here we brought her 3 roses and we felt she returned the favor. It took a little time for Susan to write all the intentions in the book, 2 pages almost full and then we departed.
We hurried over to the convent which wasn’t open the last time we were here. The girl at the door wasn’t going to let us in and she could not understand English. As we were about to leave a beautiful nun came out to see what was going on and I gave her my best puppy dog eyes and asked if we could go in. She didn’t speak English either so I guess the eyes worked and we were let in and guided to the first garden. There was the grape vine that used to be a stick?(you now have to read the story below). While in the garden we met a couple from Wyoming who had taken a cab from Assisi to visit St. Rita. We then became tour guides for them and explained all we knew about the Saint.
When we tried to get to the other side of the convent where the bees hibernate, the door was closed and we decided to leave. We took the couple with us and brought them to the Eucharistic miracle and the tomb of Blessed Maria Fasce, where her incorrupt body lies. As we walked we told them of our last trip and the white bee that we were blessed to encounter. They looked at us like we were crazy and made a beeline for the door. Oh’ well.
We headed for Roccaporenna where St. Rita was born, married and was miraculously transported to the convent that refused to let her in. We managed to see almost everything in the town except to climb the mountain where St. Rita used to pray and was taken from to the convent. We did start up but decided against it because of the shape (out of ) we were in. We did manage to get to the gardens of miracles totally out of breath and sweating profusely in 60 degree weather. At our last stop, St. Rita’s house, they had a continuous display of photo’s depicting the life of the Saint. Sue was so excited that they had photos of the Saint and her history until I had to tell her that in the 1400’s they didn’t have cameras and that the picture of her husband getting stabbed had to be staged. LOL That’s my honey, very gullible and trusting.
The whole ride this day was through the mountains and just spectacular. The temp was 65ish and sunny. We made our way to Trevi and Our Lady of Tears. The GPS brought us to this church attached to other buildings right on the road close to Assisi. The doors were locked as well as the others and we knew we were in the wrong place so we reset the GPS and headed up the mountain. We parked and no one could help us with anything. We went to 2 wrong cathedrals which were closed and left town. On the way out Sue decided to enter the map co-ordinates for the shrine and we followed Princess right back to the first place we were at. How good is that.
The doors were still locked and we knocked hard on the door to the right and were let in. The nun at the desk asked us in Italian (No English) who we wanted to see, of course we said the Madonna. She looked at us funny and we then we realized we were in a home for elderly nuns. Back out in front of the Cathedral we deciding what to do while talking to another couple that had arrived (New Yorkers) on bikes. We were all about to leave when I heard the bolt to the door open and the nun from next door motioned us in. The Cathedral was in the process of being renovated after so many years and was closed to tourists. I don’t know why but we were thankful for the chance to see the weeping Madonna.
The other couple stayed for about 3 minutes and Sue and I were left alone with our Lady. We prayed our appropriate prayers for the Plenary Indulgence and the Rosary for all of the intentions we had brought. It was so peaceful and special and before leaving we decided to explore and Sue found a hatch under the altar that I could fit in and touch the Madonna. We also sat in one of the old pews that I’m sure Blessed John Paul sat in when he was here.
Totally filled with joy from the day’s events we drove to our B&B. This place was in the corn fields outside of town but was quaint and had 3 rooms. After checking in it was time to get some food, no Breakfast this morning, so we headed back to town. It was getting late and we did not want to drive back there in the dark we didn’t care what we ate so we grabbed a couple sandwiches from a gelato shop.
We headed back to the boonies and couldn’t open the door to our room. After several tries I went to the man building and started knocking on doors and yelling. there was no one around. Before retiring to the car for the evening I tried once more as I said a Hail Mary, not knowing Sue was doing the same. The door opened on the first try. Thanks, Dear Mother!
We devoured our dinner in minutes and began writing this trip report that we lost. At 11:30 totally exhausted we said uncle and went to sleep.
Night night! And God Bless.