At the feet of the Apostle St. Peter in Rome, Also the patron
Saint of our church in Barkur.
The month of May signals many things for us who live in the state
in the United States of America.
Among those are two important events which occur every year. First
of all, the beginning of spring. After a hard winter we all look
forward to this beautiful season. Secondly, the Easter season
begins with the hope of new life seen also as the
Minnesota landscape slowly changes from winter white to shades of
Something special happened this spring when a group of us from the
Archdiocese of St. Paul and
Minneapolis went on a pilgrimage to the holy places of Italy and
Rome. It was a marvelous and faith filled experience for me to see
century old basilicas, churches, places where saints lived and
where some suffered martyrdom.
Rome, the eternal city, and had an audience with with our Holy
Father Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Square in
I am happy to share with my fellow Barkurians and others who are
interested, notes and pictures about my pilgrimage.
5/11 &12, Thursday & Friday
Left St. Paul
& Minneapolis to join 46 others in a pilgrimage to
France and finally on to Venice, Italy. Staying in a Holiday Inn
in Venice for 2 nights.
Spent the day touring
Venice. Lots of
tourists all over. People in costumes available to have your
picture taken with them. Visited San Marcos Cathedral. We have
Mass everyday. Beautiful “old” buildings built 1000’s of years
ago. Visited a glass factory. Venice is famous for glass. Went for
a ride on a Gondola. It took 30 minutes through quiet canals with
buildings on each side where families live. Pigeons (100’s) in the
plaza being fed by tourists. Wrote postcards and got ready for
Mother’s Day. Raining.
7:30 AM for Florence. Stopped at a rest stop at
9:00 AM and then on to Florence. Arrived at 11:00 AM. and began
our tour. Many religious statues and paintings. Rain stopped
around noon. Spent a couple of hours going through a museum that
has many valuable pieces in it.
lunch (pizza) and then shopped. Visited a leather factory but
didn’t buy anything. They even had us modeling their leather
had Mass at San Cruces, (Church of the Holy Cross) a
Franciscan Church at 5:30 PM and then went to
supper...pasta, pork, salad, potatoes and ice cream. At this
restaurant if you wanted a drink of water you had to purchase it!!
the morning we were in
Florence. Visited another museum that was full of statues. Had a
good lunch in a nice “self service” restaurant. Food is expensive!
Walked back to our bus and we were on our way to
Assisi. Stopped at a pottery factory. Very nice. Sampled sausage,
wine, cheese and chocolate. A dog decided to be my friend and
started following me around! Someone in our tour group took a
picture of me with the dog.
Checked into a hotel in
Assisi. Dinner at 8:00 PM. We have pasta every night to start our
supper. Walked around a bit. All hills!!!! Beautiful countryside!
at 6:30 AM. Good breakfast except their coffee is not very good.
Left on a walking tour at
8:00 AM. Assisi is hilly and the streets are very narrow. The
stones in the walkways are uneven which makes walking a bit
Visited the Basilica of
Francisco, San Damiano and Our Lady of Los Angeles. Saw where St.
Francis died and where he was born. Viewed the crypt where his
body is buried. Visited the Church of St. Claire and saw where she
died. Visited the Portiuncula, “small chapel,” inside a huge,
beautiful church. The frescoes are beautiful and the homes on the
hillsides are lovely. Saw the beautiful statue of St. Anthony of
Padua, my patron saint. Had a picture taken of me touching the
feet of my patron saint. Left Assisi at 3:30 PM for Rome.
at 6:30 PM
and got settled in my room. Had supper at
and on the road by
8:10 AM for a Papal Audience. We arrived by 8:30 AM at the
Basilica of St. Peter. Dominico, our tour guide, gave us our
tickets to get in and we then filed in to find our seat. We sat in
the hot, bright Italian sun until 10:30 AM when the pope arrived.
While waiting 3 bands marched in and were seated up close to where
the pope would be sitting.
arrived in an open coach and the crowd (100,000) went wild. He
circled the huge crowd, greeting everyone. The pope greeted us and
then the gospel for the day was read in 6 languages. He addressed
the audience for about 10 minutes and then it was read in 6
languages. All the various groups from different countries were
recognized. The audience was over by
12:00 noon. We went for lunch and then visited 2 churches. Had
Mass at St. John Lateran, a huge beautiful church, at 4:30 PM. The
ceiling in this church was all gold. Many huge statues in this
Back to the hotel by 6:30 PM. Dinner at
7:30 PM. Later we walked around a bit to get to know the
neighborhood where we are staying.
5/18, Thursday...Visit to
Peters, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel
to go to
Had a sack breakfast and we were on our way by
We three priests concelebrated at
St. Peters at 7:30
AM at one of the side altars. After Mass we walked over to the
and stood in line for 45 minutes before we could get in.
Toured the museum. Many statues, paintings and tapestries that
took 7yrs. to make. Spent 15 minutes in the Sistine Chapel which
is spectacular! After we went back to
Peters and walked around and looked at all the statues. I saw the
statue of St. Peter seated on a bronze chair. Anyone could touch
the statue and take pictures. I had my picture taken touching the
feet of St. Peter, patron of my home parish in Barkur. It was a
great experience to visit this beautiful basilica of St. Peter’s
in Rome. Also saw the Pieta.
After lunch we drove to the Basilica of St. Paul, another huge
church. Then on to the catacombs. Walked through 2 levels of the
catacombs. This is where the Romans and Christians buried their
that we have seen has been remarkable. The crowds are staggering.
Hundreds of people everywhere.
Traffic is very heavy and the drivers are crazy! Scooters all over
the place. Our bus drivers have been great. Streets are very
narrow and they park their cars and scooters on both sides on the
street, and in all directions. Barely room for 2-way traffic.
5/19,Friday...Bus, taxi, railroad strike today.
6:00 AM. Had
breakfast and then went to Mass at the Church of the Immaculate
Conception at 8:30 AM. Church is located across the street from
the hotel where we were staying. Returned to the hotel and our bus
9:15 AM and
took us to “Old Rome.” Visited the Coliseum and saw many Roman
ruins. Visited the Parthenon and then came back to the hotel about
4:45 PM. We also saw a famous, huge water fountain
where movies like “Three Coins in the Fountain: were made.
Bought some souvenirs. T-shirts for $5.00 euros each. Decided to
rest a bit and then we went for dinner. There was an option to go
back downtown by bus from
6:30 – 10:30 PM
but we decided we didn’t want to do that.
at 6:45 AM. After breakfast we left at
8:15 AM for Mass at a church called St. Peter in Chains.
Toured the church after Mass and then on to a beautiful park that
overlooked the entire city of
Rome. Beautiful!! Then on to another church, St. Sabina and then
we came back to the hotel. Others went to tour the city and the
Basilica of St. Peter again. I decided against it as you had to
wait too long in line in the hot sun.
5/21, Sunday...Back to the
Many great memories. Each historic place in
Italy and Rome was very inspiring. I’m grateful to have been able
to make this trip and recommend others to also consider going on
such a pilgrimage at least once in your lifetime
-Fr. Tony Andrade.