As I lay on “my bed” in total exhaustion, my wonderful wife is typing this (in total exhaustion). LOL. What an incredible day we had today. And, other than almost falling asleep as we finished our Daily Rosary at the Tomb of St. Padre Pio late this afternoon (we started our day at the Cave of St. Michael the Archangel this A.M. where we Prayed two decades before Mass began), we feel great and elated after having had such a wonderful and spiritual day.
After our breakfast (which include an omelette today … yeah!), we headed out toward Mount St. Michel and the Cave. The 40 minute ride was incredible. I actually almost began to “like” (not “love”) this car as it handled the roads and the curves and s-turns beautifully. I’m sure tomorrow when I begin to put all of our luggage back in the car and begin driving, I will once again be “unsure” about my feelings for our car this year … LOL.
Monte Sant’Angelo is hard to describe in words. The setting, the town and the Cave are all breathtaking. We parked in the only parking lot one can park and they can “get you” for a few Euro for parking. We made our way down and down and down through this very lovely and very old town to the Sanctuary Cave.
As you enter this ancient structure to get down to the Cave of St. Michael the Archangel, you walk down and down and down even more. It is worth every step you take as you realize, once again, how many Popes, Saints and people have made this pilgrimage over the centuries.
The Sacred Cave is beyond words. We explored every inch and touch everything in sight, not know whose hands might have passed over the stones and cavern walls before us. We went into the Adoration Chapel to begin our Daily Rosary there while waiting for the 11:00 A.M. Mass to begin in the Cave. We left Adoration feeling guilty because there were only four chairs in the Adoration Chapel and we didn’t realize that people had been waiting outside to pay homage to our Savior.
We sat directly in front of the Altar as we waited for Mass to begin. A very, very young Priest celebrated the Mass. Just watching him and Praying with him during Mass was very moving as one could feel his reverence and humbleness/piousness and his love for God and the Eucharist.
After Mass, we found the location of where St. Michael the Archangel first appeared to the Bishop. We knelt and offered up your Special Intentions, through St. Michael, to Our Lady … our Mother in Heaven.
I asked a Priest where the cross of St Francis was that he embedded into a rock at the cave’s entrance.(he felt unworthy to enter) and it was right behind me, I knelt and asked him to give me some of his humility. It was almost Noon and we knew that if we didn’t leave the Sacred Cave, we would be thrown out once again from another Shrine (closing time … siesta). So we made our way to the exit of the Cavern.
Yet, we stopped in the Religious Store and bought our little momento for our home “shrine”. We are still Praying for the woman in the Religious Store that waited on us because it was obvious she really didn’t like her job … a nice way of saying she was “not nice”. As we made our way back to the car, we stopped at one of the local stands that have all of the medals, statues and momentos one could want. The prices were a third (or less) than in the Religious Store at the Cave, and the attitude of the locals was overwhelmingly grateful and friendly … we have always felt that we wish to support the Religious Stores directly related to the Shrines we visit as yet just another way of making another donation to support the Shrines and their survival.
We spent a little time walking around this small town. But, I have to tell you, IT WAS COLD … NASTY COLD … as the mountain winds tore around us. It may have been 70 degrees out, but it felt like somewhere around 40 degree as the winds ripped through us. We decided to head back to San Giovanni Rotundo, get some lunch and re-visit San Giovanni and St. Padre Pio. We stopped back at our hotel to “refresh” (actually to brush our teeth for the second time today because both of us noticed that the “aroma” was not pleasant … it must have been the omelette this morning).
We walked down from our hotel and found a quaint little local restaurant to have a bite for lunch (no late night dinners anymore for this journey). We sat in an empty restaurant with no lights on (only a television). We ordered two different bowls of pasta that were outstanding. I had fresh tuna in mine and Susan had Italian Sausage in hers. I only stabbed her once as I tried to steal some of her pasta. She, on the other hand, was very sneaky with her fork as she sneaked portions of my pasta in to her bowl.
We walked back up the hill to our hotel and our car (not easy on a full stomach) and headed back to the Shrine of St. Padre Pio. This afternoon, we did the full tour of places we were not able to visit yesterday and, although cold, the mist we experienced yesterday was no where to be found. We visited the old Chapel where Padre Pio used to celebrate his Masses … his Confessional (shown here)….the cell where he lived and died…his memorabilia … and his original Tomb.
We both feel like we pretty much experienced this history of his entire life. If you have read the stories, you will understand how wonderful it was to be here (we recommend a visit to this Shrine to everyone). He is a Saint of “Our Times”. We then returned to the Church where St. Pio’s body is on display to finish the rest of our Rosary and to present some old and new Special Intentions we have received from you (yes, Father John M. … we delivered yours).
I really don’t know how we are right now physically with our colds (which seem to be subsiding … finally), but mentally and spiritually, our health and well-being are “great”! I really want to say something … when Susan and I are on this “personal pilgrimages”, we Pray fervently for you and for the Special Intentions you have asked us to deliver for you. And, yet, we know that our Prayers and your Prayers for Intentions may not at all be what God has planned for any of us. So, we always Pray and then, trusting in Him in all things, we just leave things in “His Hands” through Our Blessed Mother and her Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Please don’t ever stop Praying because if you continue to Trust in Him, you will see and learn that he has “His Plan” for you and for your loved ones.
We are now back at our hotel room checking emails, packing up, preparing “Princess GPS” for tomorrows travels and preparing this Trip Report. We have received several new Special Intentions from you the passed few days and, even if we don’t respond to you immediately, your Intentions are placed on our extensive list each evening and they are presented on your behalf as we move on to the next Shrines.
Right now, I am going to open a nice bottle of wine and have it along with some great Italian Salami & Cheese (Extra Virgin Olive Oil … Spicy Mustard, etc.) we brought yesterday and we’ll have a light snack before retiring for the evening. We will leave here in the A.M. for our next stops … Our Lady of the Crowned Mother of God and a couple of other Shrines I am sure will thrill you tomorrow (not, Susan … when you see the photos of the mountains I will be driving tomorrow … shhhh … don’t tell her or I won’t get her in the car tomorrow morning).
God Bless all of you … Susan & Tom
For more information about Saint Michael’s Cave click here.