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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Home sweet home!

With happy hearts we landed safely in Spokane, happy to be home, and happier still to have completed our pilgrimage of love and reparation for Our Lady. As Fr. Benedict said as we left Portugal, may the graces of the journey enable us all to live Our Lady's message more fervently, and to lead souls to Jesus through her!

Thanks to Brother Sebastian and the younger sisters who met us 
at the airport and drove us home!

The Journey home...

Bright and early (2:55am!) we headed to the airport. Our kind guide had arranged for the hotel to pack us a breakfast. At the airport we said our goodbyes and were on our way. The security here is so much simpler than in the US…or, maybe it’s just that it was 4 AM!

Since we said our prayers at the Lisbon airport, and had a tight transfer in Amsterdam, we were unable to post anything until now. It is good to be back in the USA! One more flight, and we should land in Spokane at 4 pm. 

Happy to be almost home.

Still being apostles of Our Lady!

So many graces to be thankful for!! Looking forward to seeing our Sisters and friends at home soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

One more thing...

While we were in Braga on Tuesday, Reverend Mother and a few of the Sisters met with a young local family. They are friends of Mr. John Bole, and he put us in contact with them.  Both the husband and wife are teachers. They took the 4 Sisters to dinner in a restaurant that was in an old monastery! The food was great and the Sisters enjoyed an opporunity to meet and visit with a Catholic family from Portugal.

Our Final Day

  Today is our final day. After Mass and breakfast we started the long drive toward Lisbon. We stopped at Bathala Monastery along the way.  This was a Dominican Monastery … we’ve seen Franciscan, Carmelite, Cistercian, Templar, Dorothean  and Augustinian monasteries on this trip!

The magnificent entrance.

The ceiling

Tombs like this are all around one of the rooms... this is one of the queens.

More of those beautiful Gothic cloisters!

The Portuguese tomb of the unknown soldier is in the monastery.  
Also a damaged cross which they rescued during WW1.

Look a the detail of the craftmanship!

Outside the monastery is a monument to Blessed Nuno; he was a nobleman, soldier and friend of the king, who helped win an important battle against the Spanish. After the war his young wife died and so he entered the monastery. He was very humble and pious, and soon became known for his sanctity. After his death he was eventually canonized.

Before reaching our hotel, our wonderful guide Helena surprised us with a stop at a Poor Clare Convent… it was formerly the orphanage where Jacinta Marto stayed before going to the hospital in Lisbon where she  died. Our Lady appeared to Jacinta here … we saw the chair where she sat! … and it was there she talked about modesty and fashions that would offend God, about treating priests with respect, and the need to pray for them.  We were able to kneel and pray by her bed, and from the balcony where she would attend Mass, since she was too ill to go down to the chapel. This was such a special way to end our trip…and a wonderful surprise from our guide (and Our Lady!)

Jacinta's room and the chair where Our Lady sat.

Sr. Rita told us about Jacinta's stay there.

Jacinta's dress

The balcony above the chapel.

From here we went back to the hotel for dinner and to pack. We leave for the airport at 3:00 AM!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thank you

Though we cannot reply individually to those who have left messages on the blog, we wanted to say that it is fun to receive them, and that we are grateful.  Be assured of our many prayers for you all. We look forward to sharing more about the trip with those we will see when we get  home. God bless you!

In the footsteps of Sr. Lucia

This morning we headed north across the border into Spain, visiting first the Dorothean Convent in Tui. Sr. Lucia lived there for 17 years, and it was there that she had the famous apparition of Our Lady of Fatima over the altar, with the Holy Trinity. The chapel no longer looks the same, but the sisters there were very welcoming. We prayed and sang for awhile, and one of the sisters told us about Sr. Lucia’s life there.

Then we drove to the convent of Pontevedra, where Sr. Lucia lived for 3 years. Her room there has been made into a chapel, which we visited, as well as the actual chapel which has a large, beautiful statue of Our Lady which has been seen to cry real tears. We also went to the courtyard where the little Boy Jesus appeared to Lucia while she was a postulant. The small wall shrine there was made possible by donations from Americans! It was in this convent that Lucia received the revelation of the First Saturday devotion. After more prayers and singing and time for quiet prayer, we took a group picture and then had to go.

This beautiful statue greeted us as we entered the convent.

Praying in Sr. Lucia's room where Our Lady appeared to her ... now a little chapel.

Also Lucia's room ... the painting on the wall depicts the apparition.

The courtyard where Jesus appeared to Sr. Lucia as little boy...with the little niche statue from Americans!

A picture of Sr. Lucia when she was living at the convent.

The lady in the tan cost is our tour guide, Helena.  She is an amazingly kind and knowledgeable woman, and we love her! The other woman to the left of her is the caretaker of the convent, since no sisters live there anymore.

It was pouring rain as we walked the several blocks to our bus ... but nothing could dampen our spirits! It was fun to see the reactions and expressions on faces as the 24 of us went single file through the streets in the rain!

We also made a short visit to the nearby parish church which was one of the stops on the pilgrimage route to Compostella. It was beautiful, but no pictures were allowed! Then we headed back to Braga, visiting the cathedral there before returning to our hotel at Bom Jesus. The cathedral had an amazing double organ, painted wooden ceilings, and statues of the apostles and doctors lining the walls. There were beautiful altars and statues, and a unique area with tombs of the bishops of Braga.  It was the first church we visited where there was not an opportunity to sing.

See the pipes from the two massive orns?

Such a cute Infant of Prague!

Bishop's tombs

Sr. Michael Marie points out St. Michael saving the souls in purgatory!

As we returned to Bom Jesus we took the tram ride up the hill. That was fun! The tram is over 100 years old and is operated with hydro power.

 Afterwards a number of us were able to walk down the stairs of the shrine (all 360+ of them!) and many also walked back up...another opportunity for reparation!

This place is a massive monument of Faith!

Little chapels like these are all along the path and have scenes  from Passion within.

And beautiful statues and shrines inside the church at top provide perfect places fo quiet prayer 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Farewell to Fatima

Today was the first cloudy day and we even had periods of rain and drizzle…but the cooler temperatures were a nice change and there wasn’t enough rain to be a problem. Several of the sisters got up early to walk to Valinhos and make meditation there. A few others went back to the Cova da Iria to pray there … everyone finding a way to say a personal goodbye to Our Lady of Fatima. We sang Farewell to Fatima as the bus drove away, waving our white napkins! 

The first stop of the day was at the Carmelite Convent in Coimbra where Sr. Lucia moved in 1948 and lived until she died. There are still a small number of nuns there, and as they are cloistered we were only allowed to see the chapel. Very prayerful! We sang the hymn to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel… Sr. Mary Petra always knows just what to sing!

Also in Coimbra we visited the former Poor Clare Convent where St. Isabella (Elizabeth) of Portugal’s body lies in a reliquary above the main altar. She is incorrupt, but you cannot actually see her in the casket. There is also a lovely statue outside. Sr. Mary Isabella, we all thought of and prayed for you here!

Next was Holy Cross Monastery – a beautiful church and former monastery of the Augustinians. St. Anthony lived here, which made it particularly special to be visiting on his feastday … Sr. Mary Antoinette loved that!

Again ... quaint streets!

St. Anthony dressed as an Augustinian ... something you don't often see!

This reliquary contains relics of the five Franciscan martyrs that impressed St. Anthony and made him want to be a Franciscan.

Sr. Mary Antoinette is enjoying walking the cloister where her patron saint walked .... and on his feastday, too!

We went to Coimbra University next … one of the oldest and most famous universities in the world. It was founded by the king, husband of St. Elizabeth, and it was here, too, that St. Anthony received his doctoral degree (before he became a Franciscan).  We were able to see the amazing library, the chapel in honor of St. Michael, the rooms used for disputation and defense of the doctoral theses of students, and more.

These gorgeous tiles cover all the roads of Portugal!  The fancier one was outside the university, but the others are EVERYWHERE!

Coimbra University buildings.

One room had large, old liturgical books on display and our guide was amazed when we were able to read and sing the chant notation! It was the Vexilla Regis.

The St. Michael chapel.
The organ!

Outside the photos were allowed inside (too was amazing!)

The disputation room.

Chanting the Vexilla Regis

Then it was time to board the bus and head north several hours, to the city of Braga, which is near the Spanish boarder. We visited the beautiful church of Sameiro, with some of the most amazing statues! And not only did we sing here, some of the Sisters even were allowed to play the organ!

The grounds here are beautiful ... including this little Lourdes Grotto.

The front of the church.

The view over the city!

Every statue in here was gorgeous!

Just a short distance away was the shrine of Bom Jesus…an amazing Portuguese shrine that is so different than most others we have visited. It is a place of pilgrimage and special devotion to the Passion of Jesus. No pictures will do it all justice ... but we'll share a few and maybe you can look it up more on your own.
The small plaza just outside the main church at the top of the hill. 

Such a beautiful statue of Our Lady!

IMG_9868.JPG (800×533)
One of the beautiful caves ... there are flower gardens, caves, and even lakes on the grounds of this shrine

 Will have to load more pictures from here tomorrow!