Sorry no blogging for the last two weeks, but I’m now back in the USA after an utterly fantastic two weeks in England and Italy. Both weeks were more pilgrimage than vacation, but that’s what a true pilgrimage is: a holy vacation. I’ll be writing more later as it all continues to sink in but one of the greatest parts of the trip were the unexpected blessings and delightful meetings. Here are a few as a way of round up:
- Visiting the Salt Tower at the Tower of London and seeing and touching the graffiti by the priests who were imprisoned there–most of all seeing where St Henry Walpole carved his name in the soft stone of the wall.
- Celebrating Mass at Tyburn Convent and venerating the relic of St Cuthbert Mayne–an Anglican priest who converted, was ordained Catholic priest and then returned to England to minister and was maertyred
- Being able to celebrate Mass in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral a few yards from the site of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket
- Climbing into the priest’s hole at Oxborough Hall with Joseph Pearce and singing the Salve Regina with him
- Meeting Sir Henry Bedingfeld and being given permission to celebrate Mass in the ancient chapel at Oxborough
- Joining a totally unexpected Corpus Christi procession around the moated manor house of Oxborough
- Saying Mass at Oxford Oratory–where Gerard Manley Hopkins also stood to say Mass and where Tolkien worshipped daily.
- Finding and bringing home a statue of St Edmund Campion at Walsingham
- Walking across St Peter’s Square on the first morning in Rome and spotting Cardinal Burke and him saying, “Oh, yes, I read your articles, but we haven’t met in person…” Really.
- Visiting Norcia the birthplace of St Benedict
- Seeing a road sign to Cascia and saying, “St Rita!” then taking a detour to venerate her incorruptible relic in the basilica there.
- Arriving at Sant Antimo in time for Vespers and Solemn Benediction
- Mass on my birthday at the heaven on earth abbey of Sant Antimo in Tuscany. See picture above.
- Compline on a summer evening with the monks of Monte Oliveto
- Visiting the basilicas of OL Help of Christians and OL of Consolation –both in Turin
- Climax and focus of it all: being in the front row to venerate the Holy Shroud of Turin.
The connections and graces were numerous and the blessings manifold