According to tradition, towards the end of her life the Blessed Virgin moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey). No longer able to retrace the steps of her Son’s passion where they actually occurred, she set up an identical Stations of the Cross on her property using stones and markings. This became the first devotional Stations of the Cross. This is described in detail by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich according to her visions.
Since we live in an era when customs and traditions have faded and tend to lose their meaning, it’s good to remind ourselves that, concluding the spiritual preparation of Lent, Holy Week is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Christ. It’s not just another religious tradition. We aren’t celebrating the fact that the Son of God suffered and died, but Catholics are recognizing and honoring His sacrifice, accompanying Him spiritually and physically, as if we had been there with Him, two thousand years ago.
Her catacombs, known since the earliest days of Christianity as the “Catacombs of Priscilla” are also referred to as the “Queen of the Catacombs” because such a large number of martyrs and popes were buried there. They extend for eight miles under the city of Rome and contain a significant collection of early Christian iconography.
The Mother of God told St. James not to worry, that the people to whom he preached would not only be converted, but they would one day have faith as strong as the pillar on which she stood. She gave the pillar and the statue to St. James and asked that a church be built on the spot in her honor, using the two items for the altar. “This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build… and the people of this land will honor greatly my Son Jesus.”
August 21st, 1879 is the anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at a small village church in Knock, Ireland. Known as Our Lady of Knock, it is one of the major Marian apparitions approved by the Church.
Mary’s miraculous appearance was a great consolation to the Irish people who suffered through the terrible famines and extreme hardships of that era in Ireland’s history. Although Our Lady of Knock was silent, the peace and healing she brought was real and lasting.
I’m learning that this pilgrimage is so much more than catechetical talks. It is also very much about relationships. One of my prayer intentions coming in was to meet and develop new Catholic friendships. That is for sure happening! There are so many cool and interesting Catholics on this trip. Because I went with a group from a different parish, I didn’t really know anyone. Now that we’ve been sharing such a transformative experience together, I’m getting to know everyone better and the conversations we’re having are really helping me to grow in my faith.
August 5th is the feast of Our Lady of the Snows, which marks the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome (Santa Maria Maggiore). It is one of the four major papal basilicas, and Rome’s largest and most important church dedicated to Our Lady—and one of the oldest, dating to the 4th century.
We arrive as pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, and make our way through the first security checkpoint. Then another. Then another still. Swiss guards, resplendent in their livery, examine our invitation and direct us higher.
We reach the landing area where in less than an hour the Pope will speak. Papal ushers, or sediari, lead us to our seats. Mine is better than I’d dared hope. When the Holy Father arrives to address the faithful, I will be directly to his left, about 20 feet from him, with no one in between.
Our prayer life is a continuing journey. Each word uttered to God in the silence of our hearts is a step towards Him. The Way of Saint James is a source of inspiration to us. But Jesus Himself is the True Way, a Way that all of us are called to follow. To pray the rosary is to meditate on the life of Christ. Mary will lead us to Him, and through the power of this prayer, we will find ourselves on The Way and in the arms of Truth Himself.
I wake up every morning and stretch out my body before I get out of bed to go for an early morning run. They wake up in the same position in which they went to bed, arms tightly gathered and clenched in a sort of permanent contraction. They will not rise up and greet the morning with a run, instead they will remain there…where they were yesterday, and the day before that, and the weeks and months before that. While we sat there with the brother, he bent down very close to one of their faces and smiled and kidded with her, and she smiled back.