Sunday, September 30, 2012

Melillo's Pilgrimage continues: Samiero and Bom Jesus

Bom something,(can't find the cheat sheet)
Our next stop was Samiero near the city of Braga, and is considered the second most important shrine to Our Lady in Portugal, dedicated under Her title of the Immaculate Conception. The dogma was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1854.
 We entered in the GPS co-ordinates and proceed to the old Samiero 30 miles away, and they came from the web site. We got back on track and 30 minutes later we neared our destination only we couldn't get there. Up and down steep hills, roads I wouldn't walk on let alone drive. SO WE BACK TRACKED AND TRIED AGAIN. AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. Finally we were on a road that actually had a sign, but it took us deep into woods (kept looking out for the wolf) and led us to a road under construction. Thank God the workers were there and gave great hand signals, except I was leery about going down the tiny road they pointed to. We had to try since our hotel was also up there were ever there was.
 About 1/2 mile later we were on the new main road the goes directly to the shrines. We saw our hotel and

 stopped first to check in  very grateful that we made it. I learned again today that on these journey's you have put all your trust and faith in God and Our Blessed Mother.
 The place was great and the girl at the desk spoke English. She showed us to our room and there before my eyes was a huge KING size bed. I asked were the single bed was for Susan. I got hit.
The girl gave us directions to the shrines, which are only 3 miles apart, and we ventured out, first to Samiero.
We had seen pictures, but nothing can describe this Shrine. (see Photos) We walk around in awe that something so large and so beautiful was built here to honor Our Blessed Mother. In the Basilica we prayed and left intentions took photos and again we completely amazed at the beauty and magnitude of this Shrine.
We wanted to walk to the edge of the mountain were there are stairs going down that some pilgrims climb to get there, some do it even on there knees. (we could have done that last year). There were too many stairs for my bum hip just to get down to the top of the stairs so we gave that idea up.  
We then went to the small chapel and spent a few minutes at Adoration. The gift store was open so we picked up a couple momentos and Susan asked the man there about driving to the edge of the cliff, explaining my hip and since we had seen a road. No Problem, he ran and got gate keeper and told us to go to the closed gate. We met him there and he opened the gate and showed me how to close and lock it. Good stuff, except it wasn't the right gate and we didn't realize it until we found ourselves in the upper center plaza directly at the Basilica. ( We could have driven in) Embarrased as people looked at this white mercedes with dark tinted windows like "it"s a Miracle the Pope must be here". In total histeric's I still made Sue get out of the car to get a kodak moment. We couldn't get out of there fast enough, locking the gate and laughing our way to Bom Jesus. I told you Our Mother has a sense of humor.

We decided to walk to Bom Jesus since the entrance was across from the hotel.  It was a beautiful park but after we made a complete circle we found out it was better to drive.  So back in the car and a short way down the mountain we found the real entrance.

This is truly another amazing old Shrine dedicated to the Passion of Christ.  There are 100"s of stairs that used to be the main entrance that cascade down the mountain.  People were walking them today. We had planned to go to the 5PM mass and after all of today's trials and errors we just made it.  There is only one main altar and no chapels so we were seated in this glorious Church built as a tribute to Our Lord's Passion and Death.  Mass was in Portuguese and the priest was very eloquent. We had no idea what he was saying but we were able to follow the mass and meditate easily during the readings and homily. 

 We had taken photo's when we entered and on the way out of the basilica Sue said looking up "did you get that one" and then she was looking down.  She forget the step and fell, but luckily I was able to break her fall somewhat and she said she was ok and seemed to walk fine.  Somewhat shook up and done for the day we decided we deserved a beer.  We sat on the open balcony talking and marveling over the day we had as the sun began to set.
Realizing we had not eaten since breakfast we drove back to the hotel and saw that the only 3 rest. in the area were closed.  The girl in the hotel said the would reopen at 8PM.  UGH!  So we went to our room and began writing trip reports.  That's why you only got Fatima last night and now we are back on  clock.  We see how long this last.
Only two off the three restaurants were open.  We walked by the first and thought the guy was going to drag us in. It didn't look to appitizing so we quickly went on up a dark ally to the only other one available and went in no matter what.  At least some people were there so we felt it must be better than the other joint.  We ordered a veal chop and grilled octopus.  The veal chop was good but the octopus was outstanding.  She brought cheese, olives and of course BREAD. We dug in and never stopped. It was great and not because we had not eaten in 12 hours. 
Sue made the mistake of slipping her shoe off and when we went to leave she had trouble getting it on.  I then knew she was in pain so when we got back to the hotel I got the girl to get us some ice and she brought a wrap. She was in pain so I gave her 3 Ibuprofen instead of 2 and not too long later she was sound asleep.  I was next and that ended the day the way it started in a GLORIOUS BED.  Night Night.
May the Peace of Christ and His Holy Mother be with all of us;
Tom & Susan
There is not a lot of translated history on these two shrines, so these are a little brief as well as the next three stops we will send.

[Parish of St. John of God]

Monte Sameiro
Immaculate Conception

A:The shrine at Monte Sameiro, near the city of Braga in northern Portugal, is considered thecountry's second most important shrine honoring Mary. She is honored there under her title of theImmaculate Conception. The dogma was proclaimed by Pius IX on December 8, 1854.

During the following month, January 1855, thediocese of Braga was the first in Portugal to celebrate this dogmatic declaration with an elaborate ceremony. A priest of the diocese, Martinho Antonio Pereira da Silva (1812-1875), thought it would be fitting to commemorate the dogmatic definition with a permanent monument. In 1861 he began gathering funds for the project, and construction began in June 1863.

The following is an excerpt of the talk given at theground-breaking by the dean of the diocese of Braga:

How fitting it is that on this elevated and lofty height, which appears to dominate all of nature and to encompass the most distant places, there is placed an image of theFavored Daughter of the Most High, who fromthe first moment of her existence was destined to rule and protect with her scepter of sweetness, goodness and mercy all mortals who are tossed about by the torrents of the world. How fitting that we have here a monument to perpetuate the memory of this most perfect creature, the one who is herself a most monumental work of grace! She is a supernatural edifice of perfection, whom the Church presents to us as a tower of ivory, a house of gold, the gate of heaven, the morning star, the Queen of All Saints.

The outdoor shrine was dedicated on August 28, 1869. A marble statue of Mary was installed, the work of a sculptor from Porto, Emidio Carlo Amatucci. Unfortunately Amatucci's statue was destroyed by some kind of electrical failure in 1883. It was replaced in 1886 by the work of another Portuguese sculptor, Antonio Teixeira.

Father da Silva wished to commemorate the dogma of Vatican Council I with a chapel next to the shrine of Our Lady. Work began on this chapel on August 31, 1873. A statue of Mary intended for this chapel was created by theItalian sculptor, Eugerilio Maccagnani. It was blessed in 1876 by Pius IX. It finally came to Monte Sameiro on August 29, 1880.

In 1890 the present church at Monte Sameiro was begun. Near the entrance to the grounds is a row of four statues honoring theologians noted for their writings about the Blessed Virgin: St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Alphonsus di Liguori, St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Anthony of Padua.

In 1904 on June 12 one of the statues of Mary was solemnly crowned by the Papal Nuncio Giuseppe M'acchi, delegated for this event by Pius X. This was to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

                                                            BOM JESUS
When you start to feel your car climbing away from sultry plain of Braga, you'll soon enter a tunnel of trees. There is a feeling of piece, comfort and shade. You press onward in the sudden coolness, strangely at peace, until you see the twin spires of the Sanctuary ahead of you, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte.

You park and press forward with the other pilgrims, reaching the sanctuary and peering down the ancient staircase--a dizzying array of switchbacks, fountains, meditation stops, statuary, all converging at a distant speck on the landscape, a point indistinct in the bluish haze of summer. You wipe the sweat from your brow before realizing a disturbing fact: penitents arrive exactly here, exactly where you're standing, by crawling this incredible staircase on their knees.

Bom Jesus is a short 5 km drive north east of the town of Braga (the signage tends to be confusing, allow more time than you think if you haven't a good map). The sanctuary is built on the side of a hill 400 meters above sea level--you can get up to the Sanctuary by car, a clever water-counterbalanced funicular, or walking (first through a forest path, then up the sprawling staircase that marks the pilgrimage route).

The sanctuary of Bom Jesus was designed by a fellow named Carlos Amarante. Work on it started in 1784. Besides being the most photographed church in Portugal, Bom Jesus features gardens and grottos for quiet meditation. There are a couple of hotels on the site.

Getting to Bom Jesus by Funicular

Santuario do Bom Jesus do Monte is served by an old, water counterbalancing funicular that will take you nearly 300 meters up the 400 meter hill to the pilgrimage site of Bom Jesus. Built in 1882, it moves by loading water into the car at the top of the hill, which weighs it down so it sinks to the bottom, at the same time drawing the lighter, drained car up the hill, where the process starts all over again.

Bom Jesus - The Way of the Cross Granite Staircase

Building of this staircase was begun in 1722 under the archbishop of Braga. The stairway pays homage to the five senses and the three virtues (Faith, Hope and Chastity) by snaking through a series of themed statues and fountains. Each landing has a fountain. At the base of the stairs is a section of patterned pavement with benches featuring a good view of the Braga plain on a clear day.

During Holy Week (the week before Easter ending on Easter Sunday), the Baroque stairway is climbed by penitents on their hands and knees.