I really surprised myself with my own schedule after returning from the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, since we usually need a month or so to get back on track for the end of the season and prefer to stay at home. But after a couple of days back from Ireland where I spoke with my therapist, it was time to set off on a pilgrimage to Italy with my mother – heading to Cascia – Monte Sant’ Angelo in the Gargano Nature Park – San Giovanni Rotondo – Lanciano – Loreto.
Those few valuable days I spent with my mother were great since we rarely have the chance to be on our own together. Taking a break from everyday life was something we both enjoyed, even though experienced travellers handled the tiresome long bus journey after the ferry ride to Ancona far better than me. I’m not sure whether it has to do with my long legs and confined space or simply my habit of flying…
San Giovanni Rotondo is the famous shrine of Padre Pio, one of Italy’s most popular saints through fifty years bore the stigmata on his hands and feet – the signs of Christ’s suffering. Unhealing wounds that constantly bled is just one of the many miracles this saint is associated with. His most well-known work, “Hospice for the Relief of the Suffering”, is now one of the most modern hospitals in Italy. A man of prayer and suffering, whose intact body is displayed in the magnificent new basilica and crypt decorated with Jesuit mosaics of Marko Rupnik and Chiesa San Pio, forever within in our hearts and prayers
On our return to Ancona, we stopped at another two places. The first was Lanciano, where we visited a church which holds a Eucharistic miracle – the host which had turned into a part of the human heart and a few drops of blood. The last stop was a visit to Our Lady of Loreto’s house. The magnificent Basilica holds parts of the brick house in which our Blessed Virgin Mary grew up as a child where the Annunciation took place.
I’m sure there were many of us that didn’t want this journey to end. For a long time, we were exchanging experiences on board the ferry back home. So simply, three wonderful days of constantly sharing laughter and tears of emotion. Once again I felt how only the Lord can reach out and touch the innermost parts of my heart and leave an inerasable mark.