The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. - G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Vatican Museums -- Rome, Italy

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Destination: If you’re heading to Rome in the next several weeks, a two-part exhibition — one at the Vatican and the other at the Jewish Museum of Rome — explores the significance of the menorah.
Masses are frequent in Rome. Check on the web for a location convenient for you.

Photo: A journalist looks at a replica of the 1st-century Arch of Titus, showing Roman soldiers carrying the menorah, in a exhibition at the Vatican May 15. The replica is the central motif in a two-part exhibition on the menorah at the Vatican and at the Jewish Museum in Rome. 

Why to go:  From a coin minted in the century before Christ’s birth to a 1987 Israeli comic book featuring a superhero with a menorah on his chest, the exhibit, “The Menorah: Worship, History and Myth,” documents the use of the seven-branched candelabra both as a religious item and a symbol of Jewish identity.
Among the pieces displayed at the Jewish Museum stands a towering mosaic inscription describing treasures buried at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome. Dating from the 13th century, while the Crusades were raging, the mosaic’s 37-line inventory includes “the golden candelabrum” Titus brought to Rome.
The exhibit prominently features a replica of the 1st-century Arch of Titus, showing Roman soldiers carrying the menorah and other treasures into Rome. They also give a nod to the centuries-old legend that the Vatican is hiding the golden menorah from the Temple of Jerusalem.
Francesco Leone, the art historian who prepared the exhibit catalogue, told Catholic News Service the most historically reliable explanation of the Temple menorah’s fate is that it was taken as booty from Rome by the Vandals or Goths before the end of the fifth century and melted down.
Admission: The exhibit is scheduled to be open through July 23. One ticket — 25 euros — includes admission to the main part of the exhibit in the Charlemagne Wing just off St. Peter’s Square and to the Jewish Museum, located about a mile away at Rome’s main synagogue.
Hours vary at each museum and the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays while the Jewish Museum is closed Saturdays.  Check details for both venues at the Vatican Museums website (below).
(Grand) Kid friendly: Of course.
Info: Address — Vatican Museums, Viale Vaticano, 00165 Rome
Phone — +39 06 69884676 or +39 06 69883145
Website —
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Xaverian Mission Center Our Lady of Fatima Shrine -- Holliston, Mass.

(Observer screen grab/ Facebook:
Our Lady of Fatima Shrine a ministry
of the Xaverian Missionaries)
Destination: If you plan a trip east during the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance in Fatima, Portugal, a visit to Our Lady of Fatima Shrine might make a good spiritual rest stop.
The Xaverian Missionaries, who maintain the shrine, are a religious community of priests and brothers founded in 1895 by Saint Guido M. Conforti, who was inspired by the life and dreams of St. Francis Xavier.
Masses are Sunday, 11 a.m. (Shrine Church); Monday–Saturday,  Morning: 7:30 am (House Chapel); Tuesday, 7 p.m. for vocations (House Chapel); Wednesday,  7:30 p.m. (Shrine Church); Saturday, 10 a.m. Votive Mass to Our Lady (Shrine Church).
Why to go: Since it opened in 1947, its Facebook page says, “the shrine is a place of prayer and education for thousands of people annually.” Parish groups come for summer pilgrimages. In December there are Christmas lights that draw thousands. Throughout the year the Xaverian Missionaries hold education programs and retreats.
Special events: Fatima Days will resume in May and continue until October on the 13th of each month with a 7p.m. Liturgy of the Eucharist; 8 p.m. outdoor candlelight rosary with prayer of the Hail Mary in the different languages of the participants; 8:45–9:30 p.m. Fraternal Agape in the Shrine Hall (coffee, tea, cookies etc.) On May 13, there will also be a 6:30 p.m. praise and song gathering.
Amenities: The shrine is open daily, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Our Lady of Fatima Gift Shop is open 11a.m.– 6 p.m.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Absolutely.
Info: Address — Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, 101 Summer St., Holliston, MA 01746
Phone — 508/429-2144
Website —
Facebook — Our Lady of Fatima Shrine a ministry of the Xaverian Missionaries
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

St. Anthony Franciscan Monastery Estate -- Kennebunkport, Maine

(Observer photos/
Destination: Established in 1947, St. Anthony Franciscan Monastery is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.This could be a rest stop on a trip to Maine  or to other East Coast destinations, such as Boston. Beginning in April, the neighboring Guest House operated by the friars, will be open again. Both monastery and Guest House details are on the Guest House website.
Masses are offered weekdays at 7:30 a.m.; Wednesday and Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.; and Sunday, 8, 10  and 11:15 a.m.
Why to go: The Friars welcome visitors to view the quiet beauty of riverside walking paths, English-style gardens, woodlands, and outdoor chapels. The walking path is paved, has views of the river, and benches. A “Walking Tour of the Shrines” brochure is available at the Franciscan Guest House front desk.
Originally the site was a private estate, with landscaping organized by Frederick Law Olmsted Brothers, designers of Central Park in New York City.
In 1947,  the Lithuanian Friars of St. Casimir who had fled the Soviet Invasion of Lithuania, bought the estate. It became a religious center for the friars, the Lithuanian diaspora, and many others.
In the 1950s the friars built St. Anthony’s high school primarily for boys of Lithuanian Heritage, and it remained open until 1969. Some of the friars who served as both administrators and teachers still live at the monastery.  When the high school closed, the property became a year round hotel, guest house and retreat center.
The friars’ Lithuanian heritage lives on in guest house breakfast breads, through informal language lessons for the guests, and in cultural events throughout the year.
Amenities: A gift shop is located under the chapel and is open from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 pm daily from March 1 to Dec. 31.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Absolutely.
Info: Address —  Franciscan Guest House, 26 Beach Ave., Kennebunkport, ME 04043
Phone — 207/967-4865
Website —
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Divine Mercy Cross Stitch -- Monastery of the Holy Cross, Chicago

(Observer photo/
Destination: A hand made cross stitch of the Image of the Divine Mercy, measuring 84 inches by 40 inches, will visit the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago during Lent and through the Octave of Easter. The visit will culminate with Vespers on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23.
Masses are offered at the monastery at 10 a.m. Sunday and 6:35 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
Why to go: The Divine Mercy cross stitch, was crafted by Brigitta Gedvillas (right in photo) with the assistance of her husband, Jerry, of Houghton, Mich., in the Diocese of Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She began the work in 2005 and they finished in 2013. It contains 237 colors and 13.52 miles of floss. The computer generated pattern for the image consisted of 500 sheets of paper and 10 rolls of tape.
During the eight years of its fabrication, Brigitta faithfully prayed for the poor souls in purgatory as the 514,503 stitches of the image took shape.  Following in the footsteps of St. Faustina, who first received the image from Jesus in a 1931 vision, to make this mystery of His Divine Love known to the world, Brigitta  says she experienced great consolation and grace from God while enduring spiritual attacks on her faith and life from the devil, because of her cooperation with the dictate and desire of God: “My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy” (from the Diary of St. Faustina, # 699).
The monastery church will be open for private prayer and veneration of the Divine Mercy cross stitch from Ash Wednesday, March 1 through Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23, Monday through Saturday, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., with Vespers chanted daily at 5:15 p.m. with the monks.
Public prayers scheduled on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23, include Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 3 p.m., Chaplet of the Divine Mercy at 4:30 p.m., Solemn Vespers at 5:15 p.m. and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 5:40 p.m.
This extraordinary display of the Divine Mercy Image is free and open to the public.  All are welcome and invited.
Admission is free and parking is available on the street and on the monastery grounds.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Of course, but remind them this is a working monastery and that prayer is an important part of the monks’ lives.
Info: Address — Monastery of the Holy Cross, 3111 S.  Aberdeen Street, Chicago, IL  60608
Phone — 773/ 927-7424
Website —
— Compiled by Sharon Boehlefeld
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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Immaculate Conception of The Blessed Virgin Mary - Panna Maria, Texas

(Photo provided)
Destination: Should your travels take you to Texas, you may want to plan a stop to see the oldest Polish Catholic Church in the U.S., Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Panna Maria, Texas. The town’s name, by the way, means Virgin Mary.
Masses are offered in English now at 9 a.m. Sunday; 5:30 p.m. Monday; 7:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 5 p.m. Saturday.
Why to go: While Texas may not have as many folks of Polish descent as other parts of the country (including our own Rockford Diocese), the settlers of Panna Maria were among the first. And the town is proud of its heritage. The parish is one of the historic highlights on its website. (Don’t be surprised that it isn’t a parish-only site, but it is the one listed by the Archdiocese of San Antonio.)
The first settlers left Upper Silesia, Poland on Sept. 26, 1854, led by Father Leopold Moczygemba. The 150 Polish immigrants arrived in Texas on Christmas Eve the same year. At the spot of what would become Panna Maria, Father Moczygemba celebrated a midnight Mass of Thanksgiving under the town’s now-famous Oak Tree. Several groups of Silesian Polish immigrants followed them in the years soon after the town was founded.
On Aug. 14, 1855, Father Moczygemba blessed the cornerstone of the church. On Sept 29, 1856, he consecrated the parish, the first permanent Polish Catholic church in the United States. The community also founded the first Polish Catholic school a few years later.
The original church burned down after being struck by lightning on Aug. 15, 1875. A new church was built within two years and remains in use today.
Special events: A Homecoming Turkey Dinner is held on the second Sunday of October every year. The turkey is cooked over open wood fires throughout the night before. Meals are served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Panna Maria Hall.
(Grand) Kid friendly: Absolutely.
Info: Address —  Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Farm Road 81, Panna Maria, TX 78144
Phone — 830/780-2748
Website —
— Compiled by Sharon Boehlefeld
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament -- Hanceville, Ala.

(Observer photos/
Destination: The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament was the home of Mother Angelica, the founder of the EWTN media ministry, and of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. The shrine is about an hour away from the EWTN studios.
Masses are offered Mondays at 7 a.m.; Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7 a.m. and noon; and Sundays at 7 and 10 a.m.
Why to go: The shrine church and monastery are modeled on Italian churches of the 13th century, when St. Francis began his evangelism and founded his orders. The shrine’s piazza allows vistors to make a symbolic transition from their hectic day-to-day lives to the silence of prayer and liturgy.
A monstrance, more than 7 feet tall, dominates the main church and makes the Blessed Sacrament visible to vistors in the church and the nuns who live there, but who pray on the other side of the reredos (the decorative altar screen).
The lower crypt chapel houses crypts of deceased Poor Clare nuns. Visitors are welcome to pray there.
Another stop: If you plan to visit the shrine, the EWTN studios are also open. You can tour the facilities or sit in on show tapings. The EWTN grounds are also home to the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA) Friary.
You can arrange pilgrimages for groups or individuals at either place by emailing or phoning, 205/271-2966.
Amenities: The El NiƱo Gift Shop at the shrine is open Monday through Saturday, 8:15 a.m-4:45 p.m. (The Religious Catalogue Shoppe at EWTN is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.)
(Grand) Kid friendly: The whole family is welcome, but everyone is asked to be silent in the main church and lower crypt church. Comfortable dress is fine, but sleeveless tops, tank tops, shorts, or skirts above the knee are discouraged. Women may wear slacks or jeans. Visitors are asked not to leave Mass in the main church until exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the nuns have finished singing. Taking photos is also prohibited in the churches.
Info: Address —  Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, 3222 County Road 548, Hanceville, AL 35077  Phone — 205/271-2917 Website —
— CNS; Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story.
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shrine of Our Lady of the Island -- Manorville, N.Y.

 (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Destination: Missionaries of the Company of Mary, who were founded by St. Louis de Montfort in 1705, established the shrine in the 1950s to encourage Marian devotion and to renew Catholic spirituality in the Diocese of Rockville Center. Now the shrine is open to all. Its statue of Our Lady and the Child (above) is atop the Rock is just one of many outdoor sculptures.
Masses are offered daily at 11:30 a.m. at the shrine. Starting in late April, Sunday Mass is offered outside at the Rock, one of the highest points on Long Island. A holy hour begins at 3 p.m. on Sundays.
Why to go: The shrine features outdoor walks for both the rosary and the stations of the cross, as well as an “Avenue of the Saints.” There are also several other statues on the grounds and the shrine to Our Lady, which has nearby parking.
Special events: The shrine is active with retreats, pilgrimages, prayer and other group meetings. But special events in the near future include:
> Dec. 11, after 11:30 a.m. Mass, a dramatization of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s meeting with St. Juan Diego
> Dec. 12,  4:30 p.m., Antorcha Guadalupana with a procession, traditional dances and Spanish Mass
> Dec. 18, 2 p.m., Songs of the Season with a handbell choir.
Throughout Advent, the shrine hosts Carols and Cocoa in the coffee shop after Sunday Mass for a sing-along with others.
More activities are listed on the shrine website.
Amenities: On the grounds, there are a gift shop featuring religious items from around the world, a coffee shop and reception area, all open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The shrine grounds are open from sunrise to sunset daily, although the buildings are closed except for Mass a few days of the year. Check the calendar on the website before planning your trip.
(Grand) Kid friendly: There is a pavilion for picnicking in nice weather, making it a good place to stop on a road trip.
Info: Address — Shrine of Our Lady of the Island, 258 Eastport Manor Road, Manorville, NY 11949 n Phone — 631/325-0661 n Website —
— Compiled by Sharon Boehlefeld

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