Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Susan & Tome Pilgrimage continues: Silla, Alcoy, Onil, Novelda & Alicante, Spain

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Buenos Dias:
 
Well, today stated out very well.  We were up at 6AM, finished our packing from last night, showered, got out a Trip Report and got down to the lobby to check out by 7:15 A.M. ... just as we had planned with many Shrines to visit today.  It was still dark..a first.
 
Paid our hotel bill and left Susan at the front door with luggage as I headed down to the small and dark underground hotel garage to try to negotiate my way (and the car's way) out.  I had to somehow figure out how to turn the car around and get it on the elevator/lift without a scratch or "dent-fest".  I'm getting to be a real pro on these K-turns.  Six K-turns later, I had the beast (a/k/a car ... I love this car) on the lift and went up even though the hotel clerk was afraid to start the lift because it just fit..  I didn't take Susan with me on this journey because, if you think she hates tunnels, she would have freaked out on this venture!
 
When I finally got him to press the button to bring me up with the car all was well.  I exited and back up the one way street to get the luggage, Oh and Susan too! LOL  Sue got in the car and laughed because the clerk freaked out repeating "I corumbra" as he ran back to his desk. I began signing goodbye to Bettenuser, your are the loooooser.  Little did I know how true this would turn out. "Just read on"
 
We didn't even have coffee this morning before heading out.  The hotel restaurant wasn't even open yet when we departed.  So, I figured that we would grab a Cafe Leche' at our first stop (Shrine) which was only 20 minutes away.  I was confident we would find a "Cantina" in this small and remote town.
 
By the way, last night I made two scrumptious sandwiches after dinner with the leftover croissants, meats, cheeses & olive oil.  What a wonderful thing to have on hand today when we get hungry but don't want to waste time stopping for lunch.
 
We got to the Parish Church in Silla, Spain (Eucharistic Miracle).  Parked the car and went across the small plaza for a cup of Cafe Leche' ... the Shrine was CLOSED so we thought we would enjoy a cup of coffee and wait for it to open ... hoping to catch Morning Mass.  20 minutes went by and no activity at the Shrine.  I went inside to ask when the Church would open.  We had heard the Church Bells sound ... SOMEONE HAD TO BE RINGING THEM!  With his best universal language "hand signals", he let me know that "sometimes they open ... sometimes they don't".  With a full agenda for today, one Shrine down ... 4 to go (I will send you all very short stories on today's Shrines.
 
Next stop ... Alcoy (Alcoi), Spain ... another Eucharistic Miracle Shrine.  We decided to head there from Silla, not wanting to waste time and hoping for the chance that this Shrine would be open and that we would be able to attend Mass.
 
We made it to  Alcoy about 40 minutes later.  I could see the Church on "Princess's" (GPS) Screen ... I just couldn't get there with her directions.  So, we parked the car, brought "Princess" with us and we walked and walked and walked ... first up, then down .... then up, then down,( People kept staring at us as Princess kept screeching "recalculating" from a pocket in my cargo pants) we had to negotiate more very hilly streets and tried to keep remembering where we had parked the car.
 
  Finally, it was time to stop at another Cafe' for another cup of Cafe Leche' (to be honest, it was also to use the restrooms and get directions ... men never ask for directions so I had Susan do it).  The owner/waiter pointed us up a street and signaled to make a turn at the top.  Susan did her hand signals to ask if we should walk or drive and he said something about three minutes ...no problem ... we will walk.  I left him a good tip because we could have been walking around Alcoy for days trying to find the Shrine if it wasn't for him.
 
So we paid our cheque and followed his directions ... we CLIMBED up another steep street ... made the turn and CLIMBED up more steep steps ... VOILA ... the Shrine was right before our eyes.  Thrilled, we quickly walked to the front of the Church ... DOORS CLOSED AND LOCKED!  Doesn't anyone go to Church around here?).  It was after 9:00 A.M., so, disappointed, we knew we had to leave and get back to the car before I got a parking ticket.  We knew, with the time, if the Church was going to be opened, it would have been by now and Mass might have even been in progress when we arrived.  So back down the narrow and steep steps and road ... back to our car and on to Shrine No. 3 ... Onil, Spain.
 
A little frustrated, I told Susan that I wanted to stop so I could do a little hand-gliding to release my frustration.  It was great!  (See photo).  By the way, if you believe that one, then you also thought that was me swimming in the Mediterranean this morning!
 
Enough with jokes ... we made it to Onil, Spain in about 35 minutes later and headed straight to the Shrine.  "Princess GPS" showed that the Shrine was only about a mile or so away ... excited, we proceeded.  Only to be "stopped in our tracks" for some kind of a Marathon Race that was being held.  The police had closed off all of the streets in the center of town ... at this point, we laughed ... these types of trips give us a lot of lessons in patience and understanding.  As soon as we saw the running marathon and knew we could not get through, I found the closest parking spot on the street and we set off, determined to find the Shrine of the St James the Apostle in Onil, Spain and the Eucharistic Miracle.
 
We parked and walked without much of a choice.  People were everywhere clapping for the participants of the marathon as they passed.  Our goal was to manage our way through the crowds and get to the Church.  We stopped a few policemen standing in the road and Susan would show our computer print-out of the photos of where we were trying to go.  One officer pointed and it looked like we were just around the corner.  Excitedly (maybe this was our chance, today, for Mass), we turned the corner and lo and behold ... the door was open ... Yippee!  No ... it was BOOOO! ... The open door was only an entry into a courtyard and we stopped to ask a workman where to go (again showing our computer print-out).  With "universal language", he let us know that they were closed.  Sadly, we turned around and exited and checked the other side to make sure, he could have been lieing.
 
We thought/knew that there were two Shrines here in Onil ... one was where the Eucharist was actually found by the young girl and a Chapel was built to signify the spot ... and the other is where the incorrupt Hosts (from over 200 years ago) can be observed.
 
We continued on our quest ... asking about 3 to 4 other police officers who were guarding the closed roads for the marathon where we could find either of the Shrines.  "Universal language" seemed to be working each time ... to no avail.  We would think we were on the right path and ... boom ... dead end!  The last officer that we approached and showed our computer print-out to spoke quickly in Spanish ... pointing in one direction and then in the other.  But we could tell that he was guiding us to keep walking ahead so we continued on. 
 
 We noticed, at one point shortly after, that there was a Station of the Cross in the street (off of the sidewalk) and that each Station of the Cross were about 100 yards apart ... VOILA ... were we in luck?   I quickly calculated the distance to and from and realized that we had about another 2 miles to walk (that would a total of 7 miles to and from) ... by this time, I think we had walked all of the town of Onil and I convinced Susan that we should return to (and/or try to find our parked car) and that we would try to drive from there.
 
I just knew (and I was determined to) find the Shrine ... and I did.  It was not the Main Shrine that we had found closed ... the one that contained the Incorrupt Hosts ... but we found a small Chapel that was open (gated on the perimeter so we parked and walked there).  This was the Chapel that was built on the site where the young girl found the Consecrated Hosts that had been hidden by the thief. 
 
We entered the beautiful small Chapel (first one of the day) and spent a few moments in silence and Prayer, absorbed in our thoughts and hoping to rid ourselves of the frustrations of the day.
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Leaving the small Chapel, we were now on to our next destination ... Novelda ... a newer Shrine dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene.  At this point, we were 1 for 4 ... it had not been the best of days for us to find Churches open and/or to attend Mass.  My stomach began growling and I wasn't sure if it was from hunger or frustration.
 
As we continued our drive to Novelda, the stomach growls were getting louder ... I was going to reach into the back seat of the car to retrieve our "food supply bag" when, all of a sudden, I remember those two beautiful and scrumptious sandwiches I had prepared last night in our hotel room ... the ones I delicately placed on the ledge outside of our window so they would stay fresh for the day ... the ones that I forgot to bring with us when we checked out of our hotel this morning ... the ones that I WAS HUNGRY FOR AT THIS VERY MOMENT!  Now I wasn't quite so happy.  Susan and I laughed as we remembered the "very important sandwiches" that had been left behind.
 
We made our way to Novelda ... You have to know that all these stops are all on the way to our final destination for the day  Alicante, where we will spend the evening.
 
(It started out as a good plan)
 
We arrived at Novelda and the church of Mary Magdalene and we were happy to see other people climbing up the road to the church. I found this while planning this pilgrimage and the picture made me want to add this to our itinerary.  It's unique to say the least and beautiful in it's own way.  There were no schedules posted and nothing but people coming and going as tourist.  We had hoped for a mass but that wasn't going to happen.
 
About 30 minutes later we were on the road and arrived at our hotel around 2pm.  While checking in I realized I had left my Master Card in the light switch panel that allowes the lights to come on at the loooooser hotel in Bettinesiur.  The door pass usually works for this, but it did not fit.  Being such a savvy traveller I used my card and it worked perfect. I have done it before but will never do it again.
 
 I had visions of the maid, after finding my card,  taking the rest of the day off and refurbishing her apartment and getting new clothes for her 5 kids and maybe a I phone or 5 and some tv"s on my credit card and eating my sandwhichs.  The reception clerk called the hotel and explained what happened and they said the got the card from the maid and would hold it for us.  That's 2 hours away but I considered it as I thought about those 2 beautiful sandwhiches.  I figured the maid deserved them as a tip.  (If I knew, I could have left a half bottle of wine to boot.) I told them to cut the card up.
 
After our reception-reception and help from the front desk, we got to our room ... the furthest at the end of the hall.  First things first, I tried to get online knowing it might be the last night for a couple of days that we could be on the Internet.  We were so far from the check-in desk that the Wi-Fi reception was horrible.  I had Susan go to the desk to request another room ... no problem.  Thank goodness ... we hadn't unpacked our bare essentials for the evening. Another trip to the front desk for an extra pillow and 2 hand towels we didn't have and another 2 trips to the car we finally settled in.
 
Moved into the new room, checked the Wi-Fi connection and, content, Susan returned the old keys to the desk and I got out our "MagicJack" to call my credit card company ( through the USA 800 toll-free number).  Cancelled the credit card, thanked the woman who helped me cancel my card, asked her where she was from and she said ... India!!!!  Go figure!
 
Relieved and having handled the "business at hand", I prompted Susan to return to the car (I love that car) so that we could search for a place to eat.  (We tried to find a SuperMarche earlier to no avail).  I couldn't believe that every town we were in today was shut down.  Apparently it was some sort of "holiday" today.  Not even supermarkets were open ... out of luck today all the way! We were hoping that all the restaurants weren't closed.
 
We found a restaurant and stopped.  We had Tapas type of a lunch/dinner.  It was good.  It should have been for the prices.  The hamburger we saw at the next table and checked on the menu was $20 BUCKS ... guess we are back to one meal a day.  We had a nice and relaxing time nibbling on tapas and departed on our return to the hotel ... hoping to find anything open to just buy some water for the room and, possibly, a bottle of wine to share with some cheese later ... like the rest of the day seemed to go ... THEY WERE ALL CLOSED.
 
So, back to our hotel we went.  I stopped in the hotel bar and bought a bottle of wine for the two of us to enjoy as Susan was in the room... typing away so that we could catch up on Trip Reports.  She was working on "yesterday's" report as I went outside,  to sit on this terrible chair ... to write this report.  Susan was stuck in the room with the computer ... did I tell you that I was out poolside writing so Susan could get it and type it in the room?
 
We are "off" for the next two days to try to wind down and try to relax before the end of our journey.  We still have three more Shrines to visit before our return home from Madrid on Monday ... hard to believe ... it went way too fast and we're not yet ready to return from this wonderful pilgrimage.
 
By the way it was a beautiful drive here, there and everywhere...albeit more photo's of the drive than interior churches..." CLOSED "
 
So, until Saturday (unless you hear from us tomorrow), I will leave you with this thought which I felt was appropriate for today ...
 
 
Lord Jesus, I willingly accept my disappointments,
 my irritations, my moods, my weaknesses,
 my headaches and fatigue ...
 all of my defects of body, mind and soul.
 
Because they are your will for me,
 these "handicaps" of my humanity.
  I gladly suffer them.  
 
Make me content with all of my discontents,
 but give me strength to struggle after you.
 
 
Good night and God Bless
 
Tom and Susan
 
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ALCOY
 
The Eucharistic miracle that
took place in Alcoy in the
year 1568 regards the
miraculous retrieval of some
consecrated Hosts that had
been stolen. The miracle is
still remembered every year by
the inhabitants of Alcoy in a
festival that is celebrated on
the feast of Corpus Christi.
The house of the man who
committed the sacrilege was
turned into an oratory and
can be visited to this day.
n the 29th of January in 1568, a citizen of
Alcoy by the name of Juan Prats, a man of
French origin who needed money, secretly
entered the parochial church and stole many
sacred objects, among which was a precious silver
box containing three consecrated Hosts. Juan
Prats consumed the three Hosts immediately and
then hid the box in his stable underneath a pile of
wood. The next day, the parish priest, Don
Antonio, found out about the sacrilegious theft.
Distressed, he sounded the church bells to let the
people know of the horrendous act. Soon after,
all of the people of Alcoy were assembled in
prayer in front of the church. The searches began
immediately, but were in vain. Near Juan Prat’s
house lived a pious widow, María Miralles, who
had a statue of the Holy Child. The woman, profoundly
disturbed by the profane act, began to
pray intensely in front of the statue of Jesus,
pleading for the consecrated Hosts to be returned
to the citizens of Alcoy. Few hours had passed
when she started her fervent prayer when María
saw the little hand of the statue of Jesus point its
finger to the house of her neighbor, Juan Prats.
The woman, suspicious, decided
to tell the civil authorities of what had taken
place. In that moment the pastor of the church,
moved by a mysterious force, went to the garden
of the house of Juan Prats and entered the stable.
He rummaged through the pile of wood and
immediately recovered the silver box with the
three consecrated Hosts. Juan Prats, not understanding
how the three Hosts were inside the
silver box again, (as he remembered consuming
them) repented deeply and confessed the misdeed.
The documents relative to the miracle and
the statue of Baby Jesus are still kept today in the
monastery of the Holy Sepulcher of Alcoy.
© 2006, Istituto San Clemente I Papa e Martire / Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration
 
Eucharstic Miracle ONIL
 
On November 5, 1824, the monstrance which contained the Blessed Sacrament and several
liturgical objects were stolen from the church in Onil by Nicolás Bernabeu, who as a child had
been an altar boy in that very church. News of the sacrilegious robbery spread quickly through
the whole region. When Nicolás tried to resell the stolen objects in Alicante, a merchant there
became suspicious and decided to
inform the authorities. Nicolás
Bernabeu was arrested, but did not
want to reveal where he had hidden
the monstrance, which still contained
the Blessed Sacrament. The faithful
and the civil authorities looked for
several days around the countryside,
but it was in fact in a nearby town, at
Tibi, where the thief had settled
down to live, that a woman named
Teresa Carbonell, on November 28,
1824, recovered the stolen
monstrance in the part of the town
called “la Pedrera.” The woman
immediately brought it back to Onil,
where it was received with great
festivity. Exactly 119 years later, on
November 28, 1943, Father
Guillermo Hijarrubia, the delegate of
the Archbishop of Valencia,
confirmed the authenticity of the
miracle, verifying that the Host
contained in the stolen montrance
had been preserved incorrupt.
Today, at the parish church of St.
James the Apostle in Onil, one can
still adore the miraculous Host, which has remained intact after almost two centuries. Each
year, the Feast of Our Lord “Robat” (“Stolen”) is celebrated in commemoration of the
Eucharistic Miracle and the recovery of the Host.