Have you ever had one of those experiences that was a big turning point in your life? Well, this is mine.
I joined Profil Holidays’ European Pilgrimage Highlights and I can truly assure you that in all of the three-pilgrim site that I visited – there was something special about it that left me blessed. Thank you, Profil Holidays, for providing this well-organized tour.
This city in France is a well-known place to many. Known to be a special place to visit because prayers and services are believed to bring real blessings to the pilgrim. People have said that they became cured from their illness due to the spring water from the grotto. You may be curious to wonder why such spring water can heal others? This is because Lourdes is the place where Mary appeared to a 14-year-old peasant girl named Bernadette in the Grotto.
The first thing that I noticed upon stepping foot within the city was the prayerful ambiance. I could sense everyone was there for a reason. Some were physically disabled and hoping for a cure after bathing in the Lourdes water, others may have been seeking mental or spiritual healing. Some came perhaps out of curiosity to see what is so famous about Lourdes.
A memory that I cannot forget in Lourdes is the one of a kind Holy Water. To give you a small background as to why it is healing is because when Mary appeared to Bernadette she instructed her to “drink at the spring and wash in it”.
Today, the shrine has rows of fountains to fill up water bottles. Just a few steps away, there is the Holy Bath – here, pilgrims come one by one and state their intentions for the Blessed Mother, then bathe themselves in the water.
I took this opportunity to try it out myself. Upon stepping foot in the ice-cold waters of Lourdes’ Holy Bath Water, I found myself in shock as chills ran down my spine; I felt goosebumps. Nevertheless, I felt a magical feeling as a sudden ambiance of peace filled my soul. Once I stepped out of the waters, I felt clean and pure.
The experience of partaking in the Holy Bath is definitely one that everyone should experience once in their lives. Lourdes, France has always been a magical place to feel a sense of purity and cleanliness.
Before ending the day, I couldn’t miss the participation of The Torchlight Marian Procession. The candlelit procession takes place every evening at 9:00PM since 1872. During the procession, the pilgrims walk in groups behind their pilgrimage banner. Everyone is invited to carry a lighted candle in their hand as a reminder of Baptism.
Located in Central Portugal, the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima has become, throughout the years, one the biggest catholic pilgrimage site in the world, due to the apparitions of Virgin Mary to three little shepherds in 1917.
The Sanctuary of Fatima annually welcomes hundreds of Thousands of pilgrims and tourists. Here, you may participate in the celebrations that commemorate the apparitions of Our Lady to the three children who were able to witness her.
This pilgrim site is situated in a huge square with astonishing architecture of its basilica. It will surely capture your attention. Find yourself eyeing multiple chapels and most importantly the Apparition site. Before entering, I suggest you buy rosaries or any religious materials to be blessed by the priest.
I also went to Aljustrel. This was the religious route heading towards the spots where Lucia de Jesus, Francisco and Jacinta Marto at the age of nine and seven respectively, declared that they saw the Angel of Our Lady of Fatima.
The small Town of Aljustrel is also the birthplace of the 3 shepherds who witness the miracles happen.
Of course, I couldn’t miss the candlelight procession at night – make sure to arrive the site before 21:00 to not miss it! After the reciting of the Rosary at 21:30, there is a procession with the statue of Our Lady. The candlelight procession takes place every evening, the pilgrimage group volunteers from over the world are carrying the statue from the sacristy through the Chapel of Apparitions and around the prayer area.
In front of the procession is a halogens cross, then the priests and the group who would carry Our Lady. Behind them, you’ll notice the volunteers who would recited the rosary and then followed everybody else. Everybody would sing during the procession the famous Ave Ave Maria. If you do not know the lyrics, you may tag along – it’ll be easy to follow. Sometimes, the procession is silent.
When you join a pilgrimage tour, you cannot miss out Italy in your itinerary! Known for its religious history and filled with pilgrimage sites, you will definitely recognize the city of Rome to be the home of the Pope and the Catholic faith.
Given that there are numerous pilgrimage sites in Italy, I was able to witness three places: the St. Peter’s Basilica, the Basilica of John Lateran and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
St. Peter’s Basilica
Considered to be the largest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica is part of the Vatican City complex. The church is dedicated to St. Peter, one of Jesus’ apostles. According to the catholic tradition, this is his burial site. The Sistine Chapel, located inside the Apostolic Palace, houses Michelangelo’s famous ceiling artwork The Last Judgment.
Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
This is another popular pilgrimage site in Rome. The basilica is dedicated to the apostle St. Paul and houses his burial site. Once become the largest basilica in the world, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura) is one of four papal basilicas in Rome and among the city’s most important Christian sites. Presumed to be contain the tomb of St. Paul, the church has a striking interior decorated with 80 columns and extensive mosaics.
Basilica of John Lateran
The Basilica is the oldest church in Europe and the Cathedral of Rome.
It is the most important of the four major Basilicas.
Known as St. John Lateran Arch Basilica, it is considered to be the mother church of the Roman Catholic faithful.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
This ancient Catholic basilica is considered to be the largest of the churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome. It is one of the city’s four major basilicas.
If you are in Rome, you must visit the Vatican Museums because if you did not, it is a wasted opportunity and one that you may regret.
Within the vicinity of the Vatican, you may opt to head straight into the museum to get the tickets to explore the interior of the museum alongside your guide. Headsets will be offered as you can properly comprehend the stories of the beautiful art found within the Vatican Museum. Witness with your own eyes the famous Sistine Chapel and Last Judgement artwork by the one and only Michaelangelo. Head over towards the Raphael Rooms and hear the stories behind the renowned “School of Athens”.
Papal Audience every Wednesday
Of course, while in Roman – most especially if you are in the Vatican City – then you may opt to take a moment of your day to see the Pope.
You will need a ticket to attend the General Audience with the Pope. Although, it can be free if you contact the Vatican, for the experience it is a long queue. After passing through security (bags will be scanned, metal detectors will be used and many more), you will find yourself in the St. Peter’s Square. Here, there will be several sections of chairs spread out, separated by aisles / corridors lined with wooden fences. The Pope will travel down these aisles in his Pope Mobile – so try to get as close as you can so that you may sit in the Aisle section.
I personally suggest that you arrive at the square at 6:00AM so that you will be the 1st one in the queue as well as the 1st person in the square, which will allow you to get a perfect spot to see the Pope.