Newsletter of the District of Asia

 September-October 2000

AUGUST 5-19, 2000

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Day 7: Friday, August 11, Feast of Sts. Tiburtius and Susanna, and St. Philomena, Virgin, Martyrs.

Two groups, like last Monday, with swapped destinations.

Fr. Onoda celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the hotel, for the first group, our group.  After breakfast we went to see the excavations of St. Peter underneath the Basilica.  The tour guide was quite knowledgeable; and gave us an excellent explanation of the area on which the Vatican is built. 

The Niche of the Pallia, standing right over the actual grave of St Peter.
The bones of St Peter were discovered hidden in a cavity in the right wall,
called the Graffiti Wall.

We met Fr. Griego at the Basilica where he had gone early in the morning to try to celebrate Mass.  After obtaining permission from the priest at the sacristy, and having arrived at the Confiteor, at the altar of Blessed Pope Innocent XI, he was made to stop and leave by one of the sacristans there who told him rudely to say the New Mass or to go because “This (tridentine) Mass is not allowed here!”    But Our Blessed Lady saw this sacrilegious interruption of the Holy Sacrifice.  Later, during the day, while visiting the church of St Alphonsus, Fr Griego got permission from the sacristan to offer the Holy Mass on the Main Altar, facing the original image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor!  Thank you, Blessed Mother!

Fr Griego saying the prayers at the foot of the altar
at the altar of Pope Blessed Innocent XI just before being rudely interrupted
by a sacristan and ordered to stop immediately

With a few others, we took the bus to go back to the church of St. John Lateran where we saw the massive statues of the apostles.  One showed St. Bartholomew skinned alive and holding his skin in his hands.  The chapel of the Scala Santa (the Holy Stairs) was across the street.  This is Pontius Pilate’s staircase, brought back to Rome by St Helen.  We went up the 28 steps on our knees and kissed the crystal in the center of the steps, which covered the drops of blood that dripped from Our Lord, on the first Good Friday.  It was so hot and humid and terribly painful, but really worth it.  Then we boarded the bus again, back to St. Paul’s Outside the Walls to see this time the relics of the arm of St. Ann and the chains of St. Paul. 

The Blessed Sacrament Altar in St John Lateran.
Behind the scene of the Last Supper is kept the original Table of the Last Supper.

The other group, led by Fr Wailliez went to Monte Cassino and Naples like we did earlier this week.

Day 8: Saturday, August 12, Feast of St. Clare, Virgin.

The Shrine to St Michael of Monte Gargano

We left Rome at 8:30 am under the leadership of Fathers Griego and Onoda, and started our long ride to Monte Gargano, in the South East of Italy, where, in the 5th century, the apparitions of St. Michael took place (see May 8 in the missal).  Saint Michael himself blessed this chapel.  In this church which is really in a cave we were able to have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Main Altar and to receive Holy Communion. 

Some of the innumerable relics found in Rome.
St Anania is the disciple who baptized St Paul the Apostle

We continued along the Adriatic Sea to San Giovanni Rotondo.  Here we were greeted by a Capuchin Father who blessed us with a crucifix that Padre Pio had used and a piece of cloth that had been touched to his body.  A lot of pictures depicting Fr. Pio’s life lined the walls of the monastery.  We saw the room and prayed fervently at the tomb of Padre Pio. 

Day 9: Sunday, August 13

The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

After breakfast we left for Lanciano to see the oldest Eucharistic Miracle recorded.  We saw the monstrance with the Sacred Host and Precious Blood that turned into real flesh and blood. This made a big impression on everyone, especially when we were told that the flesh is actually just like an horizontal cut or slice, if you want, of a human Heart!  That explains why there is a hole in its center: it simply corresponds to the cavity of the heart.  It sure gave us to have a deeper appreciation of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist.  Fr. Wailliez was allowed to celebrate Mass in a small, bare chapel in the basement of the church.  This was very moving.  The whole group crowded into this small chapel and as Father celebrated the Mass, a Franciscan friar kept coming in to look over and over again.  Then after communion the Filipino deacon that was with us had to consume a great number of consecrated hosts, since too many had been consecrated.  We really felt that we were in the times of the catacombs.  

The Basilica of Loreto, containing the scientifically proven
authentic house of Our Lady of Nazareth

Late in the afternoon, we arrived in Loreto and visited the church that contains Our Lady’s original house of Nazareth where the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnation took place.  What a privilege to be in such a holy place and to touch the walls that Our Lady had touched.  There are so many beautiful altars in this church.  One of them had scenes of Our Lady’s life nicely painted on all the walls and ceiling. 

Day 10: Monday, August 14, Vigil of the Assumption

Bologna: St Dominic, the Apostle of the Holy Rosary,
the founder of the Dominicans

We left the hotel in Ancona next to the Adriatic Sea and headed inland for Bologna to pray at the grave of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order.  Again, we were privileged to have the Holy Sacrifice in very special places:  Fr. Onoda was able to offer it on the altar of the tomb of St Dominic, another priest in St. Dominic’s cell, at the very spot where he died.  This last chapel was a very plain, small room housing some of his relics.  There were only a dozen people at this Mass and we were included!  It was so beautiful and special.

Bologna: the reliquary with the skull of St Dominic

The bus continued to Switzerland for a good 6 hours more during which we listened to some talks about Our Lady of Fatima and the three secrets.  We also sang many hymns, prayed and played games, led by Fr. Onoda.  The scenery as we left Italy and got into the Alps was indescribably beautiful! Many of us wanted to sleep but did not want to miss the panorama before us. 

Finally, we arrived at our hotel in Grimentz, in the Swiss alps, about one hour from Ecône, at about 9:30 p.m. and we were served a delicious and elegant dinner.  This was a quaint hotel whose owners are great friends of Fr. Couture.

Day 11: Tuesday, August 15, Feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady.

Switzerland, Grimentz: the small chapel in the alps

After breakfast we had a chance to look around the little village, so beautiful and picturesque!  Then, a one-hour walk from the hotel, all uphill, through the forest, brought us to our chapel where we were to have the Holy Mass.  Along the way, we were being prepared to unite ourselves to the Holy Sacrifice by beautiful Stations of the Cross, in bronze, put along the trail for the last half of the climb. 

The breath-taking view from the chapel, at 5000 ft (1600m)

What a majestic view!  Mass in the Swiss Alps, at Grimentz!  The Mass had to be said in the open air along the outside wall of the tiny chapel perched on an edge as on a promontory, on the side of a sky slope.  A good half a dozen of Oblate Sisters of the SSPX who had come to join us for the day, composed the Schola.  One of them was actually from the Philippines, Sr. Maria Concepcion.  The Sung Mass was offered by Fr. Couture with a short English sermon, translated in Korean and Japanese (like all the other instructions of the whole pilgrimage, by the way).  

A wonderful little picnic followed with complimentary wine from our hotel manager. Fr. Couture was kind enough to give many of us a ride back to the village, thanks to a family car he borrowed, and we were very grateful!  The afternoon was free.  Two cars brought a small group at a car park at 6000 ft (2000 m) to see the Moiry Glacier and to see and touch snow, which was for some, for the first time ever!!

On the way back to the village, Mrs. Salamin, our hotel manager’s mother-in-law, invited us to have a glass of wine in the family cellar across from her home.   It was a special treat!  A lovely wine cellar, with about 10 oak barrels of different wines, and stacks of rounds of Swiss cheese…  The dinner this evening included one of these delicious cheese from the region, the famous ‘Raclette’, that was served hot, with baby potatoes and little round onions.  The Hotel Manager himself entertained us with his accordion music during dinner.  A real treat.  Vive la Suisse!

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