What a day! I got up at 6 and made as much noise as I could but Susan wasn’t responding. I showered and packed and finally she stirred. By the time we packed the car, and had breakfast it was after 8. We were again going to cut it close with Mass, at Our Lady of the Garden, so I took the autostrada and stepped on it. We would have plenty of scenery later.
We made it to Our Lady of the Garden just after 10 and we were late again for Mass, even though we got a parking spot right in front. Not to worry, I’m sure we get a little leeway from up above. The Cathedral was simple and beautiful and after mass we said our prayers in front of the image of the Madonna at the altar, for your indulgences, and intentions (we will send you an e-mail when we do yours, tonight I will call Regina and Jack because they don’t do e-mail). We bought a trinket and left figuring we could make Montellegro, 12 miles away, before it closed at 12. We drove to take the funicular up the mountain but again we ended up directly at the shrine. Sue was shaking from the ride and she hadn’t seen anything yet.
The Minor Basilica sits atop the mountain and the views are spectacular. The Basilica is so very beautiful. The icon of Our Lady is very small and set lovingly above the altar. We again prayed for the intentions we had brought and Sue entered them in the book and we lit a candle. We had time so we sat up front near the Madonna and said our rosary. We can’t describe the feeling. This Basilica was also filled with thank you’s hung on the wall for the graces and miracles given by our Blessed Mother.
Before leaving we stopped at the funicular and had a cappuccino, I’m sure Sue would have preferred a double vodka for the ride down. Our next stop was our hotel in a small village of Uscio, high up in the mountains, like we weren’t high up already. The ride was scary to say the least. It even got to me at times when I looked down. Susan kept saying Pena de Francia from last year was easier when she was on the floor of the car then. I had to agree since the drive was 3 miles there and this one was 23 miles. See photo’s although I don’t know how she took them as she held on to the door and roof of the car at the same time. She was leaning so hard on each turn I think they will have to replace the leather on the door of the car! I finally saw her doing it and asked if she was getting ready to jump out or trying to keep the car on the road. LOL. WE (I) laughed all the way to the hotel. On the way we stopped at a church that had a statue of Our Blessed mother and both said a Hail Mary, I kept repeating to myself the sign from La Sallette France, come my children, do not be afraid. Boy, does that work!
The owner, of the hotel, Eugino was as pleasant as could be. His knowledge of English was comparable as my knowledge of Chinese but we communicated beautifully. We got our room and went down to explore the town. That took about 3 minutes. Back at the hotel we decided we deserved a beer and sat outside enjoying the view. Several local people joined us and we sat there trying to communicate. Somehow we did and we all laughed, took photos and enjoyed our time. Eugino’s daughter arrived and her English was great, so she explained to them our pilgrimage and that we had driven up to Montellegro before arriving. I think someone said stupid! in Italian and Susan shook her head yes.
Tonight if we can stay awake we will dine in the Eugino’s restaurant. Maybe I will tell him I’m a chef. No, he would probably tell me to cook my own. They already feel like family. What a great day! You may get extra pictures of tonight’s festivities which I will comment on tomorrow.
I want to share an e-mail from Sue’s niece and goddaughter that she wrote for Religion class and got an A+. It was really sweet and rewarding.
The Person I Admire Most: Aunt Susie
The person whom I admire the most is my God-mother, and aunt, Susie. I admire this particular person because of what she has done for me in my spiritual and everyday life.
Each year my God-mother takes a trip to Europe. She and her husband have been doing this for five years, this year being the sixth. I have just recently found out about her pilgrimages, last year in fact, and I love that she is doing this. In Italy my aunt and uncle will visit over 20 shines or sacred sites and send emails/ pictures of all the places they visit. I believe this has helped my faith life over the past year.
Her going to Italy has not been the only thing she has done to help my spiritually. When I was in third grade she gave me a rosary blessed by Pope John Paul II, and has seen the pope get chosen (the smoke from the chimney) twice now.
Despite the fact that she lives in Florida I believe that we are very close. She has texted me just to say “Hello to my Goddaughter, just texting to say that we love you and miss you.” Just these little words have helped me. For her to take time out of her busy day just to text that has helped me, it makes me feel happy. I believe some people take for granted a simple “thank you”, “I love you/ I miss you”, or “have a nice day” just those simple words can brighten someone’s day, they surely have with me. That is why I believe that my God-mother is someone I admire, not just in my faith life, but also for the little things she does.
The stories of today’s shrines are below plus lots of photos of the terror of Susan to follow.
Our Lady of the Garden The origin of the devotion to Our Lady of the Garden takes us back to the late 1400s. In the spring of 1493 the city of Genoa was suffering from a most serious epidemic, cholera. Chiavari, a coastal town nearby Genoa, also was effected by the cholera epidemic.
In Chiavari, Maria dei Quercio, known as Turchina, promised to give a mark of public gratitude if her family was spared from the epidemic. She was not disappointed; her family did not contract the disease. In thanksgiving she commissioned a painter, Benedict Borzone, to paint a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, flanked on either side by Saint Sebastian and Saint Rocco, patron saints of wounds, illnesses, and famine.
Our Lady of the Garden Maria dei Quercio’s idea of painting the image of the Blessed Mother on a wall, right in a place where everybody would see her, could not be better. It was a permanent reminder of the favors received from her.
Perhaps one of the main miracles is the picture itself. After many years, the picture, exposed to the rain, the sun and the salty air from the sea, conserved its beauty and the freshness of the colors.
In 1528 cholera returned to Northern Italy, including Chiavari. The danger of getting infected brought back the devotion to Our Lady of the Garden. Many people got miraculous favors through the intercession of Our Lady of the Garden. Even when the pestilence has left the region, people continued visiting the image.
These where just the first signs. Today, thousands of people from all over the world invoke Our Lady of the Garden’s name in different languages obtaining Graces from God through her intercession.
>Our Lady of the Garden
The citizens of Chiavari became very fond of their “Madonna”. So fond that in 1643 they proclaimed her Patroness of their town and set apart, thereafter, July 2nd as a holiday. They took her image wherever they went. Merchants brought the image to Africa where Our Lady of the Garden has been honored since the 18th century, and to Uruguay, in South America, since the 19th century.
In 1829 the priest Anthony Gianelli founded, in Chiavari, a religious congregation to meet the social and spiritual needs of the citizens. He gave the Sisters the name of Daughters of Our Lady of the Garden. Wherever the Sisters O.L.G. are called to do apostolic work they carry not only the image of Our Lady of the Garden but they also try to spread devotion to her among the people they serve. Today they are in Italy, Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, U.S.A., Palestine, Jordan, India, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Bolivia.
OUR LADY OF MONTALLEGROMeaning “Happy Mount,” this shrine of Our Lady is situationed on a mountain overlooking the resort town of Rapallo and its gulf. Approximately 15 miles southesast of the great port city of Genoa, Rapallo’s gulf also opens into the Ligurian Sea. But unlike the many shrines of Our Lady located on the shores of Italy which are consecrated to the Queen of hte Sea, that of Montallegro has a different dedication.
The shrine owes its origin to one Giovanni Chichizola, who was making his way home through the moutains behind Rapallo on July 2, 1557. Coming upon a cool, shady spot, he paused for his noonday rest. The sound of a sweet voice calling his name startled him to alertness. There, standing close beside him, was a beautiful lady surrounded by an intense light. With a reassuring smile the vision addressed Giovanni with the words: “Do not fear, Giovanni. I am Mary, the Mother of God. Go and tell the people of Rapallo of my appearance.” The vision then directed his attention to a small picture propped against one of the rocks where he had been resting.
“Tell the people that this picture was brought here from Greece by the angels. I leave it here in token of my love for them. Fast on Saturday.” The vision then disappeared as if carried away in a cloud.
Giovanni was filled with happiness as he looked upon the painting. His first reaction was to pick up the picture and carry it to Rapallo, but he found it impossible to remove the picture from the rock. Giovanni then called to other peasants who were nearby to come see his treasure. While he told them his wondrous story, they discovered that a trickle of water was starting to flow from the same rock against which the picture stood — a place which until that moment had been perfectly dry.
Giovanni left the blessed picture in the charge of his friends while he ran to the city. The priests to whom he told his story were skeptical, but because of Giovanni’s excitement they reluctantly followed him to the place of the apparition. There they saw the picture which none of the peasants could lift, and the spring which had mysteriously appeared.
One of the priests raised the portrait without difficulty and carried it in processin to the parish church, where it was carefully locked up pending further investigation.
The next day the painting was missing from its locked enclosure, but was found on the mountainside at the place where Giovanni had originally found it. This could mean but one thing: Our Lady wantd her image to remain on the mountain, and that it should be protected by a chapel.
The people at once began to plan for a chapel and more permanent church that would come later. A herculean task confronted them, since hundreds of tons of solid rock had to be removed to provide a level place for construction, and building materials had to be dragged up the mountain to a height of some 1,900 feet. Nevertheless, a year after Our Lady’s apparition, the church was ready for consecration.
Painted on wood, the miraculous picture measures 6 1/2 by 5 inches, with the upper part slightly rounded. Our Lady is shown lying on a bier which is covered with a red pall and surrounded by a number of small flowers. Our Lady is clothed in a brown robe. Her feet are bare, and her head is surrounded by a halo. Behind the bier is a figure representing the Blessed Trinity. A large aureole represents the Beatific Glory into which Mary was admitted. St. Peter, vested in Greek episcopal vestments, stands at Our Lady’s head, while at her feet a group of saints linger in a mournful attitude. Archangels Michael and Gabriel are also depicted.
In the basilica which replaced the original chapel, the celebrated picture is enshrined in a pavilion behind the high altar.
Preserved in the State Archives of Genoa are important documents relating to the inquiry made in 1558. Given before Msgr. Falceta, the Archbishop’s Vicar-General, the documents pertain to the questions asked of Giovanni Chichizola and the observations of Msgr. Falceta.
Records also reveal that Our Lady’s intervention brought about deliverance from the plague in 1579, 1590 and 1630. On these and other occasions, the people saw to it that Our Lady was thanked by means of votive plaques, hundreds of which still hang in the basilica. The ex-votos became so numerous that galleries were built to accomodate them. These additions to the sancturary soon proved inadequate, since the plaques multiplied to such an extent that even the cloister and sacristy were covered with them.
The Sacred Congregation of Rites, in 1739, granted the plea of the city of Rapallo to name Our Lady of Montallegro as its patroness. Once again the shrine found acceptance with the Vatican when Our Lady of Montallegro was crowned in solemn ceremonies on July 7, 1767 by the Bishop of Ajaccio, Corsica.
And what became of the rock upon which the miraculous picture rested at the time of the apparition? It is found almost concealed at one side of the altar. And what of the water from the miraculous spring? A white marble trough with a faucet is provided for those who want to drink the water or collect it in bottles. Just above the faucet is a small door through which the rock is visible. Also seen here is the small cavity which is the actual source of the water.