Last month I was privileged enough to be on a two week pilgrimage with Deacon Harold Burke – Sivers and Harvest Journeys to Portugal, Spain and France. This was the first pilgrimage not just for me but also for Parousia as we have launched the first of hopefully many pilgrimages in conjunction with harvest journeys.

There were 29 pilgrims from not just Australia but New Zealand and the United States as well. The chaplain was an American priest, Fr Daniel Maxwell, who is a friend of Deacon Harold and is based in Oregon. We had Australians from all over the country including Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Country Victoria, Brisbane and North Queensland.

We had a great variety of ages from 81 years down to 17 years. For a majority of the pilgrims this was not their first go around with pilgrimages.  It was all about wanting to deepen their spiritual lives by journeying with Mary.

To be honest, I was not sure what to expect personally and I must say it actually exceeded anything I could ever expect. I now have an appreciation of Our Lady more than ever in my life.

The Journey.

First stop was in Lisbon (or Lisboa as the locals say) in Portugal. This was a beautiful city with so much history.

Initially we met all the pilgrims for the trip before visiting our first church and together celebrated our first private Mass. We followed up the next day by visiting the church built on the spot of where St Anthony of Padua was born. I learnt that St Anthony was actually from Portugal not Italy. He ended up in Padua later in his life but began really began it in Lisbon, Portugal. He is known as St. Anthony of Lisboa here, a nice surprise. We got to kiss his relic of the bone of one of his fingers.

Next stop on the journey.

Once we spent most of the day in Lisbon we set out for Fatima, Portugal but not without stopping to visit a church where one of the first Eucharistic miracles occurred.

Over 800 years ago a host began to bleed and the precious blood was collected and til today there is a monstrance with the precious blood visible. This should not be scientifically possible as the blood should not be present at all after such a length of time. I felt such a real privilege to be a witness to this Eucharistic miracle, that is still present to us modern pilgrims..

In Fatima, Portugal, where Our Lady appeared to three children, I found it amazing that they have a statue of Mary right on the very spot she appeared way back in 1917.

Millions of pilgrims visit each year and Harvest journeys, our pilgrimage company, were clever enough to time this pilgrimage so we were actually there on the 13th of the month, the anniversary of one of the visions.

Thousands of people showed up on the 13th of September and it was a blessing to be a part of it. What an extraordinary blessing it was to be a part of the candlelight rosary procession with thousands of people from around the world. To think that this happens every single night., is remarkable at best.

For our daily Mass, we were blessed to have Deacon Harold give we pilgrims a stirring and inspiring homily. In fact, many of the priests attending even asked him for a copy of his homily as it was a powerful reflection of the importance of Mary in the gospels.

On the next day we prayed the Stations of the Cross in the very same area the children visionaries played and spent so much time.

During the stations we got to see the spot that Mary appeared on the 19th of August. This date is different because it was during this month in 1917 that the three children were in jail, so Our Lady did not appear that month until the 19th and in another area which was not the usual spot.

At the end of the stations we got to see the very spot the angel appeared to the 3 children a year before the apparitions of Mary. The angel appeared to the children holding a host and chalice. There is so much beauty, and inspiration to the story of Fatima that I strongly encourage you to look into yourselves. We have plenty of resources at Parousia Store, on the topic of Fatima.

Only the beginning of our Marian pilgrimage.

Thus ends the first part of our tour, visiting Portugal.

Coming up in the next few weeks, I plan to have several Narrow Gate posts, one covering the saints of Spain and another on our trip to France focusing on Lourdes. Can’t wait to share my experiences with you!

I had such a moving experience walking with Mary and deepening my appreciation for Our Blessed Mother.

Please share with me, in the comments below, your pilgrimage experiences too! 

PS- I posted some more pictures below, and plenty more photos on our Parousia Facebook page at www.facebook.com/parousiamedia

God Bless…..Charbel

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