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Tom & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Day 18: Three Marian Shrines in one day

Buona sera (although we will probably not send this out until the morning, “our time”:

Well, I fell asleep in about 2 seconds after finishing your Trip Report last night … I think it was about 8:30 P.M. … I was beat.  Susan stayed up to watch TV (or rather, try to understand the Italian news) … she said she stayed up late … until about 9:30 P.M. … I know she is feeling better when she stays up later than I do.

Breakfast...no omlettes today but still good.
Breakfast…no omlettes today but still good. Sue feeling better at last!

We had breakfast downstairs this morning … again in our PJ’s.  We were the only ones in the Dining Room so it felt like home (although a much bigger dining room).  No omelettes today so we were a bit disappointed but we had our two cappuccinos … took the second one up to the room while we packed and then we headed out for what we knew would be a long day with a lot of driving and a lot to see … but neither of us knew what was in store for us.  As I always say … Our Blessed Mother always loves to appear in very remote places … and she has a great sense of humor while laughing as one tries to locate some of her Shrines.

Driving to our destination...one of three shrines we hope to visit today.
Driving to our destination…one of three shrines we hope to visit today.

As we drove away from San Giovanni Rotundo to travel to our first Shrine of the day … Basilica of Madre di dio Incoronata – “The Crowned Mother of God” in Foggia, Italy, we experienced beautiful and peaceful views of the Adriatic Sea.  I loved the beauty, all the time knowing that we would be spending our next night on the Mediterranean Sea on the other side of Italy and on the Amalfi Coast tonight.

The first part of the day turned out to be the easiest..good signage, decent roads and good weather.
The first part of the day turned out to be the easiest..good signage, decent roads and good weather.

Our first stop was a breeze to reach.  Good roads, good signage, no mountains (much to Susan’s delight).  We arrived at the Sanctuary of Our Lady, Crowned Mother of God in plenty of time for Mass.  Today was a day we planned to dedicate to Shrines of Our Blessed Mother.  This was the first of three Madonna Shrines we planned to see today … and it was, by far, the easiest to reach (see the rest of our day!)

The Shrine, itself, was simple yet eloquent.  We didn’t have much information on the Shrine other than what you will read below.  We hope to have time in the future to try to find out more history on this wonderful Shrine.  We do have to say that they had a wonderful “tribute” to Blessed John Paul II with photos and memorabilia of his visit there.  We are anxious to send a couple of photos we saw of Cardinal Stanislaus from Krakow … Blessed John Paul II’s best friend and secretary … because we believe it to be him many years ago when he accompanied BJP II to this Shrine.

We stopped to pray before the icon, the main attraction here at this little-known shrine
We stopped to pray before the icon, the main attraction here at this little-known shrine

Before Mass began, we visited the area where the Icon of Our Blessed Mother and Child are on display for the faithful.  On our way there, we passed through the Sacred Room containing the Consecrated  Holy Oil where you can anoint yourself  for physical and spiritual healing.  (Read story below)  Thank goodness both of us didn’t have to anoint our entire bodies with as sick as we have been until recently … only our foreheads, lips, chest and hearts.

We then went back down to attend Mass which was beautiful.  Although in Italian, they had guitar music and a wonderful Offertory Procession which was very well orchestrated.

After Mass was over, we explored the remaining areas of the Shrine before departing to our next destination.  We were led to the Site of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and we knelt and Prayed there for the Plenary Indulgence (after completing the requirements) and for your Special Intentions we always carry with us.

As we left our first BVM Shrine, we stopped to get a small memento for our curio shrine at home and yet another Blessed Mother medal from this Shrine to add to Susan’s memento bracelet.  I am sure that she won’t even be able to pick it up after we finish with this pilgrimage … it is a priceless piece for her.  (As I’m mentioning that, I might mention that the small suitcase we carry to bring back our small mementos and holy water is almost completely filled and we still have 10 days left  … oh well.)

Another great day on the road...lots of curves and hills.
Another great day on the road…lots of curves and hills.

We departed and began our driving journey to the next Madonna Shrine.  I have to say that the trip to this Shrine was the most “fun” I have had in our car this year as I opened it up on the roads, the curves, s-turns, etc. … much to Susan’s dismay!

When we finally arrived at what we thought was the turn to the Shrine in Bovino (Our Lady of Valleverde di Bovino), we turned up a mountain road and Our Lady was once again playing with me in great humor to find her Shrine.  Now I know why, suddenly, I got an awful headache.  It was our “Princess GPS” and our auto “GPS” who never stopped talking, arguing, recalculating and yelling at each other.  Not to mention that Susan was not a “happy camper” that we were once again on these windy mountainous roads.

Do you think it’s easy being one man, alone in a car with 3 screaming women????  LOL A couple of times on the way I would ask Sue a question or to do something and all she would say was re-calculating–re-calculating and the princess would start and then the other one, OH< BOY

In trying to find the Shrine of Our Lady, we both got so confused that, as we drove by what appeared to be a Church we passed right by as we listened to the GPS Twins … we even snapped a photo of it.

As we followed the GPS instructions, they took us up into this tiny old, quaint and very crowded village where they instructed us through the “portholes” of the village … to no avail.  I finally pulled over at what I was certain was a Church and I asked a police officer for directions (obviously it had to be that universal language).  Still didn’t know what he said to me in reply so I told Susan that we should visit the Parish Church (just in case we didn’t find the real thing in this area).  We entered and paid our respects in the very small and old Parish Church and departed.

We finally found it.
We finally found it.

As we proceeded down the mountain and we finally agreed to bypass this Shrine for the lack of “finding it”, we were driving down and I pulled over and into the parking lot of a Church we saw that was just outside of Bovino (the one we had passed and actually had taken a photo of) … it was the Shrine!

I backed up the car and parked, telling Susan that I would walk around the structure but we both knew that there was no way we could enter the Shrine since it was after 12:30 P.M. (closing time for Italian Shrines … 12:30 P.M. until 2:30 or 3:00 P.M.)  I walked around the building and, lo and behold, IT WAS OPEN.

We went in and were alone in this special place where our lady appeared to a hunter and a shepherd in 1001……and that’s all I’M TELLING YOU……..READ THE STORY.

The icon in Bovino.
The icon in Bovino.

We spent not a real long time yet prayed for the many intentions we have with us. and it was very spiritual.  We had almost 2 hours to our next destination and we should arrive right after they reopen so we left.

We saw our objective....far off at the top of the hill. Will make for an interesting drive!
We saw our objective….far off at the top of the hill. Will make for an interesting drive!

The ride to Foggia (Shrine of the Most Holy Mary Crowned One of the Poor) was less challenging than the earlier part of the day and I knew that was going to change rapidly as I saw the Shrine way atop the highest mountain around.  I didn’t tell Sue right away, I just tried to work her into it.  We began our ascent and the road was not bad by any means, I think the first week of our trip the roads were narrower, but this one went up and up and up so that made up  for it.  Sue was hanging on for dear life and I said a one point let’s turn around (where, I don’t know) but she declined and hung on some more.

We arrived at the shrine but princess had us going up even more to I assume the place of the apparition, so we kept going and this was not pretty.  The roads were washed out at places and the pot holes were big enough to fit a small car.  We finally quit when the road became unbearable and I had to back down to turn around  at a sharp curve just a two old ladies came down from wherever and pulled beside us to say don’t go up.  No kidding.

The view from the Shrine was magnificent, although it was pretty chilly up there.
The view from the Shrine was magnificent, although it was pretty chilly up there.

Back at the parking lot we sat and had some lunch before venturing on .  We even had a glass of wine to settle our nerves.  Finished, we made our way to the Basilica and it’s treasures, and there were many but I knew we wouldn’t be here long for it was 50 degrees out and the wind was howling.  We did get some great photos and spent a little time in prayer.  I think Susan was praying for an easier way down, she had said to me on the way up to remind her later that she wasn’t talking to me.

The ride down is always easier and the views all day were majestic.  We headed for a small town near Salerno called Maiori where we originally were going to stay for 2 nights but when we changed our plans I couldn’t cancel without paying.  I was only 9 miles from Salerno…..how bad could it be?  I can’t say on this e-mail what I said in the car a few times as we drove this treacherous road.  If you have never driven the coastal road, DON”T, even I was terrified.  The drivers on the road have no patience and drive like they have a death wish.

Drivers in Italy must have nerves of steel. I will definitely need a glass of wine after this!
Drivers in Italy must have nerves of steel. I will definitely need a glass of wine after this!

The hairpin turns butted walls of rock and I couldn’t go slow enough making the turns.  It was the worst possible road I have ever driven mostly because of the Italian drivers who all thought they were Mario Andretti. I have never seen so much road rage, even Sue had it and she wasn’t driving.  I wonder what it would be like to be Hungarian.

Well we made it and the town is right on the beach but our hotel isn’t and was supposed to be. I wasn’t leaving.  We dropped off the luggage at the desk and Sue waited while I followed the girl to private parking around the corner.  Now this is a secure place , so much so that we got locked in and she didn’t have the key.  I was about to climb the gate when she said wait a moment and hurried off toward the building the parking was under.  I figured she knew some one inside….wrong! I saw her exit a gate to the street and rush back to the hotel for the key as I stood there like a dummy.  We’re here and I couldn’t even entice Sue for a little dinner and a romantic stroll along the beach………..I don’t understand it!

May God shine his blessings upon you.

Tom and Susan