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Postcards from a pilgrimage, part II


(Second of two parts)
When I went on a Marian pilgrimage in Europe last April, I had mixed feelings. While I was excited to see new places, I knew I'd also be homesick after a few days, especially since I wouldn't be able to bring my eight-year-old daughter along. 
 
Eager to share everything with her, I took as many photos as I could. I ended up with plenty of unrecognizable photos, but I managed to take a few clear shots. We had visited over 10 churches in two weeks, including quite a few memorable pilgrimage stops. 
 
Here are the rest of those places (part 1 here):
 
The Chapel of the Heart, where the relic of St. Jean-Marie Vianney's heart is kept.
 
With only 1,300 people, the small village of Ars has about 500,000 visitors annually. Pilgrims and tourists alike visit the basilica in Ars, where the body of St. Jean-Marie Vianney is kept.
 
The Cure of Ars arrived at the village in 1818, when the population was about 200. The priest had his work cut out for him, but he stepped up to the task, sleeping for only two hours a night and spending most of his time in the confessional. The Basilica features several paintings by Paul Borel. Behind the presbytery is the Chapel of the Heart, where the relic of the Holy priest's heart is kept.
 
There is also a wax museum, where pilgrims can see the priest's life illustrated in 17 scenes.
 
7. Basilica of Notre-Dame of La Salette (La Salette, France)
 
The sanctuary of Notre-Dame de la Salette lies at an altitude of about 1,800 meters above the village of La Salette. The Basilica was designed by architect Alfred Berruyer, and was built from 1852 and completed in 1894. 
 
In 1846, Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat were on the slopes of the French Alps, above the village of La Salette when they saw the Blessed Virgin sitting and weeping.
 
She rose and spoke to the children, weeping the whole time. She wore a crucifix surrounded by a hammer and pincers, chains, and roses. The Lady warned of a great famine, which came to Europe in the following years. The Lady reminded the children of the Gospel, and urged them to say their prayers:
 
"If my people refuse to submit, I will be forced to let go the arm of my Son. It is so strong and heavy; I can no longer hold it back. How long a time I have suffered for you! If I want my Son not to abandon you, I am obliged to plead with him constantly. And as for you, you pay no heed! However much you pray, however much you do, you will never be able to recompense the pains I have taken for you."
 
Bronze statues of the apparition are in the sanctuary, which attracts over 300,000 visitors each year.
 
The sanctuary of Notre-Dame de la Salette lies about 1,800 meters above the village of La Salette.
8. Shrine of Our Lady of Beauraing (Beauraing, Belgium)
 
From 1932 to 1933, the Our Lady showed herself to five children in Beauraing. She was standing under the branch of a hawthorn tree in the garden adjacent to their boarding school.
 
The Lady identified herself as the Immaculate Virgin, and had a golden heart in the center of her chest. As in Banneaux, she requested for a chapel to be built. She promised to convert sinners, and asked the children to "pray, pray, pray." 
 
Today, pilgrims gather to pray the rosary in front of the Lady's statue beside the hawthorn bush.  There is also the Castel Sainte Marie, where pilgrims can explore footpaths through some 75 acres of woodland. 
 
At the heart of the Shrine is the Votive Chapel. The entire structure was created as a symbol of the message of Beauraing. The chapel is full of details of its history, such as the numbers five and 33, representing the children and the apparitions.
 
Pilgrims gather to pray the rosary in front of the Lady's statue beside the hawthorn bush.
9. The Loyola Basilica (Spain)
 
Constructed in the 17th century, the Baroque church was designed by Italian architect Carlo Fontan in the form of a small Vatican. 
 
At the birthplace of Iñigo de Loyola, pilgrims can visit the Chapel of Conversion, where the founder of the Society of Jesus overcame life-threatening surgical operations. While recovering in this room, St. Ignatius read about Christ and the lives of the Saints. He resolved to change his lifestyle and became a pilgrim in search of Christ. 
 
Pilgrims can visit the old medieval Tower House, St. Ignatius' ancestral home. The house is open to the public, and visitors can follow an audio guide that explains the Saint's life and works.
 
The Loyola Basilica is a 17th century Baroque church designed by Italian architect Carlo Fontan.
10. Fatima (Portugal)
 
In 1917. the little village of Aljustrel, the Blessed Virgin appeared to three little shepherds, Lucia De Jesus and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto. She urged them to pray a lot, and invited them to return to the Cova da Iria on the 13th day of each month. In October, she identified herself as the "Lady of the Rosary," and asked that a chapel be built there in her honor. After the apparition, all who were present witnessed "The Miracle of the Dancing Sun." 
 
Fatima is one of the world's greatest pilgrimage centers. At the heart of the sanctuary is the Chapel of Apparitions, where pilgrims say the rosary every evening during the candlelight procession. The exact spot of the apparitions is marked by a marble pillar. Around this spot, the sanctuary has grown to include several other chapels.
 
Fatima is one of the world's greatest pilgrimage centers.
The Basilica at Fatima has 15 altars dedicated to the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. 
 
The houses of the seers of Fatima are also open to the public, and there is an outdoor Stations of the Cross following the path the little shepherds took from Aljustrel to the Cova da Iria. After the pilgrimage, I felt both fulfilled and relieved. I knew I had just experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the same time, I couldn't wait to get back home to my daughter. The 15 days were the longest time we'd ever been apart, and as much as I hate to admit it, it was I, not she, who had a bad case of separation anxiety. As we looked at the pictures together, I realized that show-and-tell was a good way to share the pilgrimage, but an even better plan would be to return. I knew it would take me years, but it would all be worth it because this time, we'd be going together. –AC/KG, GMA News
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