Photos from LWC Pilgrimage to Rome, Lourdes & Fatima – 29 May-16 June 2017
Eighty pilgrims visited Rome, Lourdes and Fatima from 29 May–16 June, led by Bishop Robert Llanos, Fr John Persaud, Rhonda Maingot and Rosemary Scott.
In Rome, we joined the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR). Arriving on 31 May, we went directly to St Mary Major Basilica for the Jubilee Mass of the Int’l CCR. We joined many groups trying to enter the Basilica and there was excitement as we greeted fellow Trinis and pilgrims from other countries. Some disappointment followed when we realised that the Basilica was full and we wouldn’t be getting in…but that didn’t dampen our spirits. Off we went to check into our hotels. It was Wednesday night, so after dinner we headed to St Peter’s Square to have a Prayer Meeting…..a wonderful evening of prayer, praise and worship.
We spent the next day in Assisi. We had Mass at St Francis Basilica, a tour of the historical centre of Assisi including St Clare’s Basilica, and a quick stop at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli which contains the original stone chapel restored by St Francis.
On Friday morning, we visited St Paul Outside the Walls, St John Lateran Basilica and the Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs), which many of us ascended on our knees. Later, we went to the Worldwide Jubilee Charismatic Gathering at Circo Massimo, where chariot races were held in ancient Rome. It was thrilling to be part of this Spirit-filled gathering of 50,000 crazy Charismatics from 122 countries. Despite the hot afternoon, we were soon caught up in the music and the singing, the praise and worship, the testimonies, the talks, and a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
We had Mass the following morning at St Peter’s Basilica celebrated by Bishop Llanos and Fr Persaud, assisted by Deacon Derek. In the afternoon we returned to Circo Massimo for the Pentecost Vigil with Pope Francis. He told those gathered: “It may be that your way of praying does not please some, but it is true that it is fully consistent with the biblical tradition. In the Psalms, for example, David dances before the Ark of the Covenant full of joy.”
By 7 o’clock next morning, we were on our way to St Peter’s Square for the 10 a.m. Pentecost Mass with Pope Francis. Another blessed day for us: we were seated near the front and were very close to the Holy Father as he passed in his popemobile. In his homily, Pope Francis said the arrival of the Holy Spirit brought the gift of forgiveness, which renews the heart, filling it with hope. He
said: “This is the beginning of the Church, this is the glue that holds us together, the cement that unites the bricks of the house: forgiveness.”
After dinner, we did a night tour of Rome which included the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and, of course, gelato!
Rome and the 50th Anniversary of the CCR was an unforgettable, moving experience!
After a flight from Rome to Toulouse and a 2-hour coach ride, we arrived in Lourdes on the evening of June 5 and welcomed the cool temperatures. Following dinner, we made our way to the Grotto to greet Our Lady and joined the Rosary procession.
The next three days in Lourdes were spent in prayer, reflection and participating in all the activities – Blessed Sacrament Procession and Rosary procession each evening; Mass in the Underground Basilica; pre-dawn Stations of the Cross on the upper hill for those who could make it and also on lower ground for the others. We took a dip in the miraculous baths and visited places associated with St Bernadette. In the Parish Church in Bartres, we venerated a relic of St Bernadette, and then had some leisure time at the beautiful Lake of Lourdes.
On our final evening, we lit candles in the Sanctuary and prayed for our country, our community and our personal intentions. Bishop Robert’s prophetic word that evening touched many hearts: God was telling us to lay down our burdens right there in Lourdes, to let go of them and move on, to trust that He will take care of them.
With a bit of nostalgia, we left Lourdes by coach the following morning, June 9th, for our two-day journey to Fatima via Salamanca.
We arrived in Salamanca in the evening, and after dinner we walked to the Main Square (Plaza Mayor) which is located in the Old Town. Bordering the Square are Salamanca University and the Cathedral. People of all ages gather in the Square in the evenings, enjoying each other’s company, singing, dancing and patronizing the many restaurants in the area. Salamanca, with its ornate sandstone architecture, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988. The following morning we took a guided tour of the city.
At midday we departed for the final leg of our journey to Fatima which took approximately 6 hours.
On arrival in Fatima we had a familiarization tour of the Sanctuary and, after dinner – and each subsequent evening – joined the International Rosary & Candlelight Procession.
The days were scorching hot and the evenings were cold but we participated in all the planned activities for the 100th Anniversary Celebrations, flying the T&T and LWC flags high, high, high!! Bishop Robert and Fr John concelebrated in the Chapel of Apparitions and at the International Mass on the 13th, with Deacon Derek assisting. How proud we were to see them in procession and on the altar! We participated in the ‘Adeus’ (Farewell) as Our Lady of Fatima was carried around the Sanctuary, all waving our white handkerchiefs.
We prayed at the tombs of Sts Jacinta and Francisco in the Basilica. We did the Stations of the Cross and visited the hamlets of Valinhos and Aljustrel, where the homes of Sts Jacinta and Francisco and Sr Lucia are located. A few of the pilgrims were fortunate to take photos with the aunt of the little saints. Some of us did penance by making the trip down the centre aisle of the Sanctuary and around the Chapel of Apparitions on our knees.
Our time in Fatima was a deeply moving experience. We will always remember Our Lady in the middle of those beautiful white flowers, held high and being carried in procession slowly around the Sanctuary. She said to Sr Lucia: “My Immaculate heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
After an early breakfast on June 14th, we departed for Lisbon Airport for our flight to London and a two-night stay. The next day, the Feast of Corpus Christi was being celebrated in Trinidad and so we had Mass at St Patrick’s Church in Soho that morning. Bishop Robert gave us these parting words in his homily: “This Feast invites us to take that time to adore, to worship, to love, and to praise in silence, in God’s presence.”