Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tom & Susan's Pilgrimage: Our Lady of Lapa

Bom Dia (Found our “Cheat Sheet”) … tomorrow it will be “Buenos Dias”.

 This is our last full day in Portugal and we have three Shrines to visit today.  Two are dedicated to Our Lady of Lapa and the other is to Our Lady of Remedies.  This should prove to be an interesting day because all three places are in very remote areas … a distance from each other.
We woke up at 7:00 A.M. after a marvelous sleep.  We had set our alarm clock so that we could attend the 8AM Mass back at Our Lady of Samiero Basilica.  Susan’s foot felt a little better, although I had to carry her into the bathroom to shower … ha), but I knew she was still in pain, so I got out the “maybe we will need” bag that I brought with us.  Found an ace bandage and wrapped her foot. still havn’t used the heating pad)  It seemed to help and off we went … Susan with cane in hand.  I told this comes in handy if not for walking then for first floor rooms and other necessities)
I didn’t want to push my luck again with driving on to the Basilica grounds, so we parked in the regular parking lot.  We were the only car there.  Sure that Mass was going to take place, we walked to the Basilica.  There were about 20 people inside including several Religious Sisters and locals.  Mass was just beautiful in this Blessed Shrine with the Priests voice echoing throughout.  I even snapped a few pictures which I rarely do during Mass.  But I waited until after the Final Blessing to do so.
Then we were back to the hotel for a great breakfast.  We packed up and headed out to Our Lady of Lapa … a/k/a “The Rock”.  It was only about a 20 miles away, but the driving was intense to say the least.  The roads in to the mountains were narrow and, at one turn, the road was impassable as far as I was concerned.  Just couldn’t do it.  So, I backed up and kept going straight ahead rather than turn.  “Princess” finally decided to cooperate and she re-calculated her directions to get us to Our Lady of Lapa (“The Rock”) … it even said “Rock” on the GPS screen.
This place is just incredible.  We had traveled here knowing that it was not open … we only wanted to see the place where Our Blessed Mother appeared in 1498 … and to deliver a very, very  important Special Intention directly to Our Mother.  This Special Intention is and was for Karina since it is a story of a little girl who could not speak.  When the little girl found the Statue of the Virgin and brought it home, her irritated Mother through it on the fire infuriated … at this point, the young girl miraculously spoke for the first time in her life … “Don’t burn it”, she cried, “It is The Lady of Lapa”.   Karina … our Prayers are that you will also receive the miracle of speech.  We love you.
When we arrived at “The Rock” of Our Lady of Lapa, we were greeted by a flock of goats that were being shepherded by a dog.  The dog wasn’t too happy to see us and was barking loudly.  I backed the car up to the very bottom steps to “The Rock” to get away from the goats and, of course, from the barking dog as he stood about 50 feet away “daring” us to get out of the car.

I got out our trusty cane( another use) just in case the dog decided to get aggressive (not to hurt him but hoping to scare him).  We slowly got out of the car, left both of our doors open and just stood there for a while.  The dog kept barking, but I saw his tail begin to wag after he had thoroughly inspected us.  I felt much better and said “OK … let’s go”.  We shut the car doors and proceeded up the few steps to “The Rock”.  We peered in through the iron gates and Prayed to Our Lady.  We Prayed, in particular, for Karina to gain her sense of speech.  We walked around the area of “The Rock” in amazement … hard to explain.  We then lit a candle to Our Lady of Lapa and left two other Special Intentions with her.  It was time to say “See You Later” to “Our Lady of Lapa”.  (See Photos).  They moved the original Statue of Our Lady of Lapa to another province about 120 miles south of here because of the remoteness of the original  site and to be able to protect the statue of “Our Lady of Lapa”.  See the Trip Report for our third stop today at “Our Lady of Lapa 2”.

We walked back to the car and we talked about how easy it had been to find this very remote place in the middle of nowhere (easy to find … not so easy to drive to).   We had “Princess” all set for our next stop and departed.  As we were leaving, I think the dog got very angry … see photo of our Lapa 1 departure.
On to “Our Lady of Remedies” in Lamego, Portugal.  We are going to send separate Trip Reports today for our three stops.  To include all three in one email would be asking way too much of you to have to read and digest everything. 
May Our Blessed Mother answer all our prayers and keep us safe.

Tom & Susan
                                Partial story of Our Lady of Lapa

The chapel of Our Lady of Lapa is situated in the parish of Soutelo, near the town of Vieira do Minho, northern Portugal.
The only existing document that tells us the story of Our Lady of Lapa and is a written document dated 1851. This document is framed within a context of Lapa Soutelo.
The framers of the chapel were John Gill and his wife, Mrs. Margaret Smith, from the parish of St. Adrian Soutelo in 1694.
After the chapel was erected, the image of Our Lady was kept there and loved with such devotion that, in 1697, pilgrims to Rome required a perpetual fellowship with Jubilee. Nevertheless, in 1788, the image was taken to the parish of Outeiro, where another chapel was built. The reason for the transfer would be the fact that the original site was a remote place and subject profaning by thieves.
In the original place was built a small wall around the cavity and placed a cross on top of huge granite block, thus showing that this site was sacred and thus would not be forgotten.
It is the year 1805, when Our Lady of Lapa appeared before a small shepherdess in the first place where the picture had emerged. Knowing what happened, the father went to the site to see what happened. When her daughter pointed to the apparition site, there was Our Lady again. Quickly the news spread through the appearance of nearby villages, starting the first day of the pilgrimage in June. On June 10, 1805 gathered more than five hundred people on this site.
Given the enormous flow of pilgrims, the abbot Rodrigues Ramos ordered the construction of an altar beneath the granite block where the image of Our Lady had appeared.
He also ordered that the area around it was conveniently prepared in order to receive the greatest possible flow of pilgrims. Later, at the behest of Abbot Manuel Goncalves altar went through improvements as well as the podium, while other arrangements were later made by Jose Antonio Rodrigues, among others.
Today, there are many who visit this beautiful region where it Soutelo and its beautiful chapel, which is closed most of the time, opening only for certain religious ceremonies.

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.

In honor of St. Michael this weekend, here's another of "Joey's Messages" -The Feast of St. Michael the Archangel-

In honor of St. Michael this weekend, here's...
From Glenn Hudson

“I, your Mother, through the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel, ask you to amend your lives”

-The Second Message of Our Lady at Garabandal, June 18, 1965

Dear Friends,

On Wednesday, September 29th, we celebrate the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel. Fr. Joe Pelletier first told us in 1968, “Garabandal is a message for a world in crisis.” In 1970, he wrote his first book on the apparitions, God Speaks at Garabandal.
(follow this link and scroll to the end of the page,


The following excerpt from that book about the importance of St. Michael at Garabandal is even more enlightening and profound now, with forty years of hindsight, than when it was written. 


“At Garabandal, the first heavenly visitor to appear was also an angel, the archangel St. Michael. Like the angel of Fatima, he came before Our Lady did and his initial mission was to prepare the visionaries for her coming and also to help set the spiritual climate which constitutes such and important part of the apparitions. But the fact that the angel of Garabandal was the archangel St. Michael has a special meaning. It indicated the basic theme of what was happening in this little village. Saint Michael’s very presence proclaimed the great spiritual drama that was unfolding on earth and of which Garabandal was to be one of the very important acts. It heralded a gigantic struggle in the world between the forces of good and the forces of evil…

Those who have taken to heart the Garabandal Message understand this and pray frequently to him whom the Church has always invoked as a powerful ally in its struggle with the devil.”
-God Speaks at Garabandal, pg. 115

Of the interviews given by the visionaries on this topic, the most interesting and illuminating was given by Conchita in 1981 to J. Dominguez, M.D entitled “St. Michael at Garabandal”. This interview was published in GARABANDAL magazine and is available at our website. (The link is and the article is under the Interviews section).

I urge you to read it and by reading it, increase your devotion to St. Michael as Our Lady advised.

In Union of Prayer, Joey

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Susan & Tom MELILLO'S DAY 4: Blessed Alexandrina, Balazar - Someiro and Bom Jesus, Braga, Portugal

Bom Dia,

We headed out to Balazar and the shrine of Blessed Alexandrina, who was not to long ago Beautified by Blessed John Paul II.  Along with this visit we were anxious to see the Miracle of the Holy Cross which occurred right on the church property. (this is a most moving and courageous story of a young girl whose passion towards Christ caused her to willingly suffer great pain and sorrow).  Blessed Alexandrina also lived for 14 years on no other nourishment except the Eucharist!
We arrived with out a hitch and parked right in front.  As we entered the church we realized Eucharistic Adoration was being observed so we knelt and prayed.  The church was small yet beautiful and full of joy, you couldn't help feel it. After awhile we quietly made our way to the tomb and managed to take some pictures, unnoticed by the faithful present.


Sue and I have decided to send you separate reports for the next couple days since we are visiting so many Shrine and so much information, we think it will be easier to read and absorb.
We have a very weak signal were we are but hopefully this will get to you. 
God Bless
Tom and Susan
Blessed Alexandrina da Costa
Victim Soul of the Eucharist
and of the consecration to the Immaculate Heart according to Fatima.
Alexandrina Maria da Costa (1904-1955)
Chapel of the Holy Cross in Balazar, Portugal
The village of Balazar is located 40 miles north of Oporto, made up of small houses of stone with a population of about 1,000 people. The village is surrounded by vineyards and fields of corn, dates and olives. The Church of Balazar is dedicated to the Holy Cross. Erected in 1832, commemorating the mysterious apparition that year of a cross made on the ground. In a report sent to the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Braga, the pastor of the parish testifies the happenings of that day:
“I’m writing to make you aware of the happenings in the Parish of St. Eulalia de Balasar. During our latest celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi, the faithful were coming towards the Church and noticed a cross of a lighter color formed on the ground. The morning dew was all over the area, except on the cross. I myself went and touched and moved around the ground where the cross was formed, but the same image reappeared in the same place. Later, I ordered water to be poured over the same area, but the cross reappeared again and it has remained ever since.”
Many people came to see this phenomenon of the cross to venerate it with flowers and offerings. Till this day, the cross remains in the same place, and it continues to be a challenge to erase it.
Alexandrina lives the mystery of Cross
East of Balazar we find the Church of St. Eulalia where on April 2, 1904, Alejandrina Maria da Costa was baptized. She was born on Wednesday of Holy Week, March 30th of the same year. She is the daughter of very devout and hard working farmers. Her father died shortly after her birth. Alejandrina grew up with her older sister Deolinda in a very simple, devout, and pious environment.
In the writings of Alejandrina de Costa, she makes three references to the cross, the last one dated Jan. 14th, 1955. While in ecstasy, she heard the voice of our Lord saying to her: “A century ago I revealed to this village the cross that comes to receive the victim. Oh Balazar, if you don’t respond ! . . . A cross made of dirt for the victim that is offered for nothing . . . The victim is chosen by God and has always existed in His eternal designs. Victim for the world, but favored more by celestial blessings, who has given ALL to heaven for love of souls, she accepts ALL. Trust, believe my daughter, I’m here!
All your life is written and sealed with a key of gold.” (Alejandrina: Her Agony and Her Glory)
During the first years of her life she was fascinated by the religious processions that took place around the village during days of great celebration. At age three, while resting one afternoon with her mother, she saw a jar of cream on the table. She leaned over carefully not to awaken her mother, and reached out for the jar. When her mother called her, she was surprised and the jar fell on the floor and broke into pieces. Having lost her balance, Alejandrina fell on the floor, consequently injuring her lip and created a scar for the rest of her life. She was then taken to the nearest clinic. Her mother, Maria Ana, anxiously cleaned off the blood flowing from her mouth. A generous assistant gave Alejandrina a bag of candies in order to calm her down, but Alejandrina responded by screaming, kicking, and hitting.
“This was my first offense,” she wrote years later in her autobiography, dictated to her sister Deolinda by order of her spiritual director. Alejandrina was a very active, joyful child, full of life, but never jeopardizing her precocious spirituality with her humor and spontaneous character.
Years later she wrote the following experience:
“Upon the death of our uncle, Deolinda and I stayed at the house with his family for seven days after his death to assist at the Masses offered for the deceased. One morning I was asked to go and get a bag of rice in the room where my uncle’s body lay. When I got to the door I did not have the courage to enter. I was so frightened that my sister had to get the rice. That same night I was ordered to go and close the window of that same room. As I approached the door, I felt my knees trembling and again I was unable to enter. I said to myself: ‘I have to fight against this fear,’ I opened the door slowly and walked around the room where my uncle was. Since that day, with the help of God, I am able to manage my fears.”
By the time she was ready for her First Communion, at age 7, Alejandrina had a profound love for the Eucharist, visiting the Blessed Sacrament with unusual frequency and doing spiritual communions on occasions she was unable to attend daily Mass. On one occasion, an aunt of Alejandrina who suffered from cancer asked her to remember her in her prayers. The child responded with such perseverance and fervor that this habit of prayer continued in the soul of Alejandrina ever since.
Later she wrote: “I’ve always had great respect for priests. At one time I found myself sitting on the stairs at the entrance of the village and I saw priests walk through the streets. I stood as I was accustomed to stand up in respect when they passed by in front of me. They took off their hats and said “May God bless you!” I realized people would stare at me because I had the habit of sitting at the same place on purpose in order to see the priests enter the village and show my reverence to them."
Due to the privations of the rural life at the time, Alejandrina only assisted school for 18 months and was sent to work in the fields. She was hardworking and exposed to bad habits and vocabulary from the other workers who worked with her. After 3 years, an employee of the area tried to attack and abuse her. The Lord protected her with the grace of an extraordinary strength that came while she held the holy rosary in her hand.
After this serious incident, the child was returned to her home. This opportunity allowed her to renew her love and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In that same year, she became ill with typhoid. Her mother would give her the crucifix for her to kiss and Alejandrina would move her head and murmur : “ I want Jesus in the Eucharist.” Finally she recovered her health and was transferred to the hospital in Povoa located in the Atlantic coast. Upon returning to Balazar her health was poor, she was very weak and virtually paralyzed. Alejandrina dedicated herself to sewing with her sister Deolinda.
She became paralyzed to defend her purity
Cama de AlejandrinaJust like Saint Maria Goretti, the Italian martyr of purity, Alejandrina would rather embrace death before yielding to sin. In 1918, an incident occurred that would mark Alejandrina’s life forever. She was in the second floor bedroom of her house with Deolinda and another young friend when three men approached and insisted with a strong voice to allow them to enter. Alejandrina looked out the window and recognized one of the men, the one who tried to attack her some years ago while working in the field. She rapidly closed the door, but the men were able to enter through an emergency door in the roof. Deolinda and the other young lady were able to flee, but Alejandrina was cornered in the room by this man. She screamed: “ Jesus, help me! ” hitting the man with her rosary.
Behind her was a window, about 13 feet high. It was the only way out. She preferred to jump out the window with the possibility of death before consenting to the low passions of this man.
The fall was severe and with much pain. With excruciating pain and grinding her teeth she crawled her way into the house. Her vertical spine was irreparably injured. Alejandrina was 14 years old. What followed were many long years of pain that increased unceasingly, along with incapacity and depression, but she never yielded to desperation or weakness.
Completely paralyzed on April 14th of 1924, she became bedridden for life at 20 years of age. Her distraught family prayed for her every night, united around her bed they would light two candles to the image of our Lady and prayed the Holy Rosary on their knees.Alejandrina would spend her days praying, meditating, asking our Blessed Mother for healing; she would ask Jesus “his blessing from heaven and from all the tabernacles in the world.”
Because of her increased love for prayer her distractions diminished. She started to desire more and more a life of greater union with Jesus. This union that she perceived could only take place by orienting all her incapacities and illness towards the Love of Jesus. She soon understood the idea that “suffering was her vocation.” At the end of this same year, Alejandrina found herself immersed in the sublime desire to offer herself to God as a victim soul for the conversion of sinners.
After praying and discerning, she felt confident that our Lord was calling her to live a life of love and reparation, offering voluntarily all the sufferings to the Beloved for the conversion of sinners. Like St. Paul, Alejandrina was able to say, “ At present I rejoice when I suffer for you; I complete in my own flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, which is the Church.” (Colossians 1:24)
Alexandrina and Fatima
News of the apparitions of our Lady of Fatima started to reach the village, 200 miles south. Healings and miracles were reported at Fatima. A pilgrimage was organized to go to Fatima from Balazar. Having a great devotion and love to Our Lady, Alejandrina wanted to be completely sure of God’s will for her in relation to her call to suffering. She asked Our Lady to allow her to go and accompany the pilgrims. The parish priest and the doctors insisted that the trip would be deadly for her condition, so the pilgrims departed without her.
After all the pilgrims left, Alejandrina closed her eyes and started to pray, offering to the Lord the sacrifice of her abandonment and desolation. As she prayed her mind was transported to the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of St. Eulalia, close to her home. Unexpectedly, she received a divine illumination. She was able to understand that Our Lord is also a prisoner in the tabernacle.
This unity with Jesus allowed her to visit Him spiritually and to be constantly in His presence, loving Him unceasingly and praying, offering herself in immolation to console His Sacred Heart and to obtain the conversion of sinners. Recollected and moved by tears, Alejandrina pleaded to the Lord to allow her to suffer to the limit that she could tolerate if this would help the sinners to be delivered from the fires of hell.
She was unable to go to Fatima, but the Virgin Mary granted her the grace to understand and live the messages in the most perfect way, intimately uniting herself to the desire of the Blessed Virgin. By offering her passion in this way, Alejandrina became a victim soul for love of the Eucharist and the consecration to the Immaculate Heart, which are fundamental messages of Fatima.
In response to the courageous petition, her pain increased until becoming almost intolerable. Night after night, with very high fever Alejandrina awoke with her head on her pillow and with the rosary clasped strongly in her hands so as to receive strength from each Hail Mary. With tears, she prayed exclaiming and repeating the prayer Our Lady had taught her in Fatima: "Oh, Jesus, it is because I love you, for conversion of sinners and in reparation for all the offenses to the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
She lived the Passion of Jesus
Alejandrina experienced 180 ecstasies of the Passion, preceded by many hours of fear and horror as midday of Good Friday approached. This fear was generally accompanied by an intense sadness, nausea, and a strong sensation of loneliness.
For seven years she was unable to forget her first crucifixion. She wrote: " All seemed to be present before me, I felt the fear and horror of those bitter hours, the anxiety of my spiritual director at my side, and my family in tears and horrified." Minutes after midday on October 3rd, 1938, Our Lord invited Alejandrina to immerse herself in His Passion: "See, my daughter, Calvary is ready, do you accept?" Alejandrina courageously accepted. Witnesses held their breath while she was in ecstasy. Even though she was paralyzed, she would recover movement in her body and almost levitated from her bed with the same movements of Jesus in the Agony of the Garden of Olives to Calvary.
Images of the ecstasy of the Passion were filmed forming an important part of her beatification process.
At the end of one of her ecstasies at 3:00 pm, Alejandrina raised her arms in thanksgiving and exhausted in horror, she immediately cried: "No, Jesus, no, Jesus, crucify me !! Forgive, forgive, forgive !!! They have the same right as I have, you died on the cross for them, like you did for me. Jesus I don’t want any soul to go to hell. I love you for them. Forgive them Jesus, remember me in my crucifixion. Hell is the worst place." This dialogue reminds us of Saint Gemma Galgani, a mystic of the end of the 19th century.
A few days later, Alejandrina suffered terrible pain, she vomited blood and was tortured by an unquenchable thirst. Water was not enough; she was unable to swallow a drop of water. She started to perceive the strong odor of sin: "they were repulsive odors," she related in her autobiography. "Perfumes and violets were brought to me, but I rejected them because I was still tormented by this vile odor. Just to remember these things make me suffer."
She is nourished only on the Eucharist
One day she heard the voice of God say to her: "You will not be nourished any longer with food from the earth. Your food will be My Flesh, your drink will be My Divine Blood, your life will be My Life. You receive it from me when I unite my Heart to yours. Do not be afraid, you will no longer be crucified like in the past, now new trials await you that will be the most painful ones. But at the end I will take you to heaven and the Blessed Mother will accompany you."
Her last ecstasy of the Passion occurred on March 27,th 1942 on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows.
During the last 13years of her life, Alejandrina ate and drank nothing. She was nourished exclusively by the Holy Eucharist.
Her thirst was only satisfied by God Himself. She was submitted to many medical studies; the last one was performed by: professor Joao Marques, a teacher of Medical Sciences at the University of Pernambuco; a well-known conference speaker from the faculty of this university; a professor of the nutrition department of the School of Social Services; and the President of the Gastronomy and Nutrition of Pernambuco.
Alejandrina shared with her spiritual director what the Lord said to her: "You will live only on the Eucharist because I want to show the entire world the power of the Eucharist and the power of My life in souls."
During her long agony she heard the voice of God saying to her: "Give me your hands because I want to nail them to mine. Give me your head because I want to crown it with thorns like it was done to Me. Give me your heart because I want to pierce it with a lance like My Heart was pierced by one. Abandon yourself completely to ME . . .Help Me in the redemption of humanity."

Her deathAlejandrina died a little after receiving the Holy Eucharist on October 13th, 1955, the 38th anniversary of the miracle of the sun in Fatima. Her last words before death were: "Don’t cry for me, today I’m immensely happy . . . . at last I’m going to heaven."
To the priest, pilgrims, and reporters who crowded the place, she gave a message that should move all humanity: "Do not sin anymore. The pleasures of this life are worth nothing. Receive Holy Communion; pray the Holy Rosary daily. This resumes everything."
Lápida de la Tumba de AlejandrinaBefore her death, Alejandrina requested to be buried facing the tabernacle of the Church, saying: "In life I always desired to be united to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to look at the tabernacle at all times that I was able; after my death I want to continue contemplating, always having my eyes constantly on Our Eucharistic Lord." She dictated to her sister Deolinda her epitaph which still exists today over her tomb: "Sinners: if the ashes of my body are worthy enough to save you, come close. If it is necessary, step on them until they disappear, but do not sin anymore. Do not offend Our dear Lord anymore. Convert. Don’t lose Jesus for all Eternity. He is so good !!"
The process of beatification for Alejandrina was solemnly opened by the Archbishop of Braga in 1973, completed, and sent to Rome. Many miracles occurred through her intercession.
Alejandrina Maria de Costa was solemnly beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 26th, 2004.
We give thanks to the Lord for allowing us to visit the Church of St. Eulalia in 1996, where Holy Mass was celebrated before the body of the great victim soul of the Eucharist. We also visited her house, saw the window out of which she threw herself to save her purity and the room where she lay so many years in bed, loving and suffering for sinners. We will never forget her example and memory.

PrayerMother of Jesus and our Mother, hear our prayer. We consecrate to you our bodies and our hearts. Mold them Blessed Mother, fill them with your love. Like Alejandrina, may we also be close to the tabernacle with Jesus, so that we may serve Him like lighted lamps while we live in this world. Bless and sanctify us, Oh, loving Mother of Heaven! May we also be prisoners of love. Purify us so that we may desire what is undesirable for love of Jesus, your Son and Our Lord.
Novena for personal use
Oh Jesus, who rejoice in the simple and humble souls, many times ignored, forgotten and despised by men! Exult your Servant Blessed Alejandrina who always desired to live hidden in the world and away from greatness.
Oh, Lord Jesus so often in our times we need lessons on holiness, which is the full realization of our human and Christian vocation, and, therefore, the elevation of the human being to the beauty of love and moral state. Bless your Servant Blessed Alejandrina, and hear the petitions which we offer through her intercession. Grant us especially the grace ..............(name the intention), if it is for honor and glory of your Name Jesus, and the glorification of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and salvation of sinners, for whom Blessed Alejandrina admirably immolated herself. Amen !
“Keep me company in the Blessed Sacrament. I remain in the tabernacle night and day, waiting to give my love and grace to all who would visit me. But so few come. I am so abandoned, so lonely, so offended…. Many…do not believe in my existence; they do not believe that I live in the tabernacle. They curse me. Others believe, but do not love me and do not visit me; they live as if I were not there… You have chosen to love me in the tabernacles where you can contemplate me, not with the eyes of the body, but those of the soul. I am truly present there as in Heaven, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.”
Blessed Alexandrina, pray for us to increase our love for the Eucharist!
Upon exiting the church we sought out the Holy Cross which proved to be harder than driving there.  No one spoke English and the hand signals didn't work.  After walking around the town we returned to the car and Sue said I think that might be it.  A small Chapel just 50 yards from the front door of the church, be
low the hill.  Sure enough we made it.  The original area of the miracle is surrounded by a small metal fence in the shape of the cross(see photo's). The miracle is not present today but after reading  the story you could help but contemplate the wonders of God.  We added more intentions into the book present and left on to our next stop, Blessed Alexandrina's house.  We followed the signs to this welcome center with no one around to welcome us, so we just explored the grounds finding a house we were convinced was her's.  Wrong it was the business office, but this young girl, Marguirite, who spoke perfect English came to our rescue.  She walked us to the right house only to find out it was closed by just a few minutes. (again).  She took us back and told us all about Alexandrina.  She was so excited and yet calming.  She showed us old documents and newspaper articles and added us to her mailing list.  She promised to send us the new English brochure as well as a power point of the actual video back from the 50"s.  (we had them by the time we got to our hotel).  She was our angel of the day.  Anyone interested in the video we can handle that when we get home.  We bid farewell and headed out to Braga and two important Shrines of this country. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fr. Ramon Andreu's Notes: Part Two, Post 43

After this Message, the situation took an indubitable turn, and the same Message can be glimpsed. Those who are hidden in order to do what the Message says have not done it for the most part. They have not given new marvelous tests without the last two warnings, the “warning” and the “miracle.” When these events happen the bravery of the sacrifices will also happen and will lose importance through the evidence of what will come to us as a result.

Through these methods God will supply what we should attain with our efforts.

Time happens like this until the year 1966 in which the phenomenon of amnesia begins. The girls who have already doubted or negated what they have lived, will do it with greater intensity and suffer these phenomena that result in the greatest confusion and doubt.

We can deduce the causes for these phenomena:

One, that Heaven, in obedience to the desires of the parents of the girls, or of the Bishop, will withdraw their actions until their minds are changed and they need a new occasion for the phenomena.

Another is that our judgment is the truest from the point of view of the reality of the facts, that our Mother in Heaven, in cooperation with the reiterated notes of the Bishop, permits this amnesia in the girls to dispel the marvelous atmosphere created because of them while a time will come when the warning and miracle will be produced. She punishes the lack of attention evident in the Notes and upon hearing what is essential, as Conchita (our main victim) has always said, the Message will come to fruition.

The girls’ doubts have been so intense that by simple deduction we can establish that they are not natural. It is not possible that after a year and a half of continuous ecstasies, with the multitudes of mystical phenomena, perfectly observed, that their memory could be so confused that they would not know if they had had them or invented them. This fact is monstrous, that in so little time, it seems that the origin is mistaken. What is more, if we consider that this amnesia was perfectly announced by the same girls from the first ecstasies, and that Conchita suddenly introduced it.


Sanctifying Your State in Life

From Glenn Hudson
Blessed Mother said in Garabandal on October 18th, 1961.
"We must make many sacrifices, perform much penance, and visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently. But first, we must lead good lives. "

In 1945 Jesus told Lucia, the seer of Fatima, "The sacrifice and penance I now seek and require is the fulfillment of your state in life and the observance of my laws." Whatever your state in life may be you can sanctify all your daily actions if upon arising you recite sincerely the morning offering prayer. Through the "Morning Offering of Reparation" every act you do becomes a sacrifice. The word "sacrifice" means to make "holy." Once you have made your morning offering you make "holy" every act you do throughout the day. Whatever trial God permits to pass your way during the day becomes a penance — whether it be work, bad weather, rebellious children, sickness in the family, tight economic conditions or misunderstandings by relatives or friends. All these sacrifices and penances obtain graces the Blessed Virgin needs for the conversion of sinners.

Thursday, September 27, 2012




Bom Dia,

We slept like babies under our down comforters on a luxurious firm bed.  I never knew I could get so excited about sleeping.  The first two days have been hectic as we knew and the next three are the same then we calm down. 

We drove about 500 miles the first 2 days (map in photos).  The driving wasn’t bad especially in Portugal.  We drove about 150 miles on the highway and didn’t see 100 cars in either direction. They don’t care if you speed so I obliged them, testing 90mph for a good part of the trip.  We knew they had toils but when we went to pay we realized why they are empty.    $50 – thanks you very much.  Who can afford that every day.

We had a good breakfast this morning (including fresh bread) and great Café Leche.  Ready to go we headed off to Nazare and the famous statue of Our Blessed Mother believed to have been carved by St. Joseph.  (The story is below and great reading).

Before leaving Fatima for the day, we went to a bank so I could exchange some US Dollars for Euros.  Susan stayed in the car directly in front of the bank.  And I will let her type what  she saw …

Tom walked up to the front door of the bank.  A Priest had just walked out so he knew the Bank was open.  He pulled on the front door and I watched as he continued to try to open the door to no avail.  There was a doorbell type thing on the wall and he rang it.  No luck.   He tried to pull the door open again.  Then he began knocking on the door .  Nada … he couldn’t get in.   I could see how frustrated he was as he put his hands around his eyes and his nose up to the window of door of the bank to peek in.  Then he knocked again, rang the bell and, once more, tried to pull the door open.  Just about the time I knew he was going to “implode”, the Priest who had walked out of the bank earlier came out of a store next door.  Tom turned and said …. “Do you need a lock or a key or something to get in her, Father?” … as I sat there watching, the Priest quickly put his arm and hand behind Tom and PUSHED THE DOOR WIDE OPEN … IT WAS A “MIRACLE”!!!!  I was absolutely hysterical watching all of this from the car and I described it to Tom when he got back in (by the way, once he got in, he learned they could not exchange US dollars so we are still looking for a bank).  We laughed our way through the drive to Nazare’.

And now I will give you back to Tom …

I decided to drive the mountain trek to Nazare’, a beautiful beach coastal town on the west coast of Portugal.  Thank goodness Susan remembered the word “Sitix” from our travel planning because the address we had given “Princess” was taking us below our destination.  When she brought that to my attention, I went with her suggestion, shut “Princess” off and followed the signs from there (I would get even with “Princess” later).

We ended up in this quaint little village on the edge of a cliff where the story you are going to read explains everything that took places there … the miracle at Nazare’.  We explored of the small Chapels and a very small cave where the Statue of Our Lady of Nazare was found.  They had a carved statue to depict her location.  The real Statue of Our Lady was in the Shrine of Our Lady of Nazare’ which stood in the center of the square.

Noticing that a flock of tour buses had just arrived, we hurried to the large Shrine to see what we had come to see (and before the tourists arrived) … the Statue of Mother and Child.  Again, no photos were allowed but you will see that I didn’t disappoint you (got a few).   You will see, up close in the photos, what is considered to be The Greatest Icon In The World.


It is said to have been carved by St. Joseph when Jesus was a child.  And that it was painted by St. Luke years later.  We made it just in time before the throngs of tourists off of the bus began pushing and shoving to get up the stairs and move us out of the way. 

In all seriousness, we stood on the step before the Statue of Our Lady with Child to Pray for your Intentions and we stopped in the Adoration Chapel on our way out.  We also felt it fitting to dedicate our Prayers to all of the children we know and all of the children you have asked us to Pray for who are afflicted and in need.

Having accomplished our goal in Nazare’ (fairly easily for a change), we headed back to Fatima.  We turned “Princess” back on and she began to guide us on our return until we saw a sign for a “brand new highway” that said “Fatima”.  We immediately turned on to the new highway.  For ten minutes, “Princess” freaked out … she was just a car floating around on the GPS screen with no roads and all she kept saying again and again was “Re-calculating … make a left on the next dirt road … re-calculating”.  We finally had to shut her off and we made it back on our own.

We had planned to go to the 3PM Mass which were told was in English.  The Basilica was pretty full and I thought it was a good time to meet some fellow travelers after.  Mass began as soon as we got therein POLISH.  Surprise, but not a problem.  The funny thing was that after communion the organist  played “My Country Tis of Thee” one of American favorites. May Our Lady is hearing the call that America Needs Fatima.

Afterwards we went to the “Cova De Aria” to deliver your petitions and bought a very large candle to light in honor of them. 

I took a lot of photos of the grounds so you can see the enormity of the Shrine.  I think it holds a million people.  We stopped to get holy water from the spring that runs under the pillar that Jesus stands atop.  We found out that many miracles have been attributed to this water.

Found a place to grab a quick bite since all the rest. Are closed until 7.  We couldn’t wait.  So now we back at the hotel getting ready to send you this.  I had Susan type for awhile so I could lie on the bed and contemplate my next sleep.

Tomorrow onto Balazar and Braga Portugal.

 May Jesus, Mary and Joseph keep you close and protect you.


Tom and Susan


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Nazaré, the cliff.

The Legend of Nazaré has it that on the early morning of September 14, 1182, Dom Fuas Roupinho alcalde of Porto de Mós, Portugal, was out hunting in his domain, near the coast, when he saw a deer which he immediately began chasing. All of a sudden a heavy fog rose up from the sea. The deer ran towards the top of a cliff and Dom Fuas in the midst of the fog was cut off from his companions. When he realized he was on the edge of the cliff he recognized the place. He was next to a small grotto where a statue of Our Lady with the Enfant was worshipped. Thus he prayed out loud Our Lady, Help Me. All of a sudden the horse miraculously stopped at the end of a rocky point suspended over the void, the Bico do Milagre (Point of the Miracle), thus saving the rider and his mount from a drop of more than 100 meters, that would certainly caused their death.

Dom Fuas dismounted and went down to the grotto to pray and give thanks for the miracle. Then he ordered his companions to fetch masons in order to build a small chapel over the grotto so that the miraculous image could be easily worshipped by all and as a memorial to the miracle that saved him. Then before walling up the grotto the masons destroyed the existing altar where amongst the stones they found a ivory chest containing some reliques and an old parchment describing the story of the little wooden statue, one palm high, of Our Lady seated breastfeeding baby Jesus seated on her left leg.

According to the parchment the statue must have been worshipped since the beginning of Christianity in Nazareth, in Palestine. It was rescued from the iconoclasts in the fifth century by the monk Ciriaco. It was he who brought it to Spain, to the monastery of Cauliniana, near Mérida, where it remained until 711, the year of the battle of Guadalete, when the Christian forces were defeated by the Moorish invading army coming from north Africa.

When the news of the defeat arrived at Mérida, the friars of Cauliniana prepared to leave their monastery. Meanwhile the defeated king, Roderic, who was able to flee the battlefield alone and disguised as a beggar anonymously asked for shelter at the monastery. When he asked one of the friars, Frei Romano, to hear him in Confession he had to tell who he really was. Then the friar suggested they flee together taking with them an old and holy image of Mary with the Enfant worshipped at the monastery.

So the statue of Our Lady of Nazaré, which received its name from the village in Palestine where it was first worshipped, was brought by friar Romano and by king Roderic to the Atlantic coast. When they reached their destination they settled in an empty hermitage on the top of a rocky hill, the Monte de S. Bartolomeu, and there they stayed for a few days. They then decided to separate and live by themselves as hermits. The friar took the image and settled in a little grotto, on the edge of a cliff above the sea, next to the hill where the king went on living.

A year went by and friar Romano died and Roderic buried him on the ground of the grotto. Then he left the region leaving behind the holy statue, a black Madonna, on the altar where it remained until 1182, when Dom Fuas, after the miracle, moved it to the chapel built over the grotto as a memorial to the event that saved his life. Thus the still existing chapel was named Capela da Memória (Chapel of the Memory).

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré, main chapel

In 1377, because of the growing affluence of pilgrims, king Fernando had a church built near the chapel to where the holy statue was transferred. In the end of the sixteen century this church suffered the first of a series of reconstructions and enlargements. The existing building is now the result of several interventions from the sixteen to the nineteen centuries that give it a very peculiar character. This church or sanctuary is named Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré). The holy image is now on display in the main chapel in a small niche above the altar that can be accessed by a staircase leading from the sacristy. So the statue has remained in the same place since 711, in a village named after it Sítio da Nazaré (Place of the Nazaré). In this village, nowadays a quarter of the town of Nazaré (Portugal), one can still visit the three sanctuaries mentioned above: the underground hermitage, the small chapel above it, the church where nowadays one can visit Our Lady of Nazaré.

According to oral tradition, the holy icon was sculpted by St. Joseph the carpenter, in Nazareth, when Jesus was still a baby. A few decades latter St. Luke the evangelist, painted it. So, it may well be the most ancient image venerated by Christians.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Evora, Santarem and Fatima Portugal

Tom & Susan Melillo’s – Day Three

Buenos Dias  …

As small as those beds were in Guadalupe, we were “out like a light” by 8:00 P.M.  There were no dreams or aches and pains to disturb us … just what seemed like a HURRICANE during the night.  It came blowing through the mountains around 10:00 P.M. … Susan woke and said “Is it time to get up?)”.  Luckily, the heavy winds and rain subsides and after a couple of Melatonin, it was “night-night” all over again until this morning.

We were up early as intended so that we could get on the road … it was still very dark out and drizzling rain.  Unfortunately,  we had to wait for breakfast at the hotel until the girl arrived.  We had a couple of cups of Spanish Coffee (Caffe’ Leche’) as they call it; some orange juice, mini-something-like-small-hard-donut-holes and fresh plain toasted bread – no butter – so we used the olive oil on the table and Sue seasoned hers with salt, too.  If it wasn’t for the bread since we have ventured on this trip, we’ve been eating very healthy for lack of better words.

It was still raining when we left the hotel and we had to drive, literally, through the clouds to descend the mountain.  Scary a bit … but surreal.  We crossed in to Portugal about three hours later on our way to Evora, Portugal and the Chapel of the Bones.

We drove through this big “little town” and passed by this very large old Church.  “Princess” (GPS) kept directing us to go on further based on the address we had given her for the “Chapel of the Bones”.  So we listened to “Princess” … 15 miles later, through back roads with no one around, we ended up on what we found to be the “Other Evora” … same address minus ONE DIGIT.  No “Chapel of Bones” in sight.

After finally figuring out our problem, we entered the actual GPS Coordinates for the destination we were trying to reach … lo and behold … it took us back through the same route and back to the “First Evora”.

We arrived somewhat close to our destination and parked the car on a very narrow side road and began walking.  We latched on to two women, one of which was carrying her GPS to try to find the “Chapel of the Bones”.  We were now 4 people lost.  We finally made a turn and arrived at our destination …

JUST IN TIME FOR THE CARETAKER TO BE CLOSING THE DOORS FOR “SIESTA”.  He informed us that it would re-open in two hours!  (For those of you who have travelled vicariously with us over the years, we’re not shocked when this happens!).

Needless to say, we did not and have not and will not see “The Chapel of Bones” in Evora, Portugal.  I calmed myself realizing that we were going to leave any of your Intentions there anyway … LOL.  So nothing was lost except for a couple of hours on the second day of our pilgrimage … still no Mass which was disappointing to us, though.

We stopped at a Super-Marche to get our first picnic lunch … “The Melillo’s Famous On-The-Road Hogie”.  The young lady at the Deli Counter was great … she couldn’t speak a word of English and I couldn’t speak a word of Portuguese.  “Universal Language” … I just pointed to the meats and cheeses and held my fingers up for how many slices I wanted of each … it worked out great.  And then, of course, we found our favorite European Dijon Mustard and a bottle of great olive oil and fresh baked bread.  We stopped not too far down the road, made our Hogie and “dug in”!

We were now on our way to Santarem, Portugal to visit the Holy Shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle.  Even using the GPS Coordinates with “Princess”, it was impossible for her to get us directly there.  We parked the car and approached a police officer in the Main Square.  No languages in common but he gave great “hand signals” when we showed him a copy of where we were trying to go … to the Holy Shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle.

Not wanting to get lost again, we walked about 10-15 minutes through this very quaint section of town.  We arrived at this very old “non-descript” Church, hidden on a very tiny side street of Santarem.  The only clue that we were in the right place was a depiction of the Miracle of the Eucharist on the front wall of the Church.


As we entered, we began to approach the Altar (after first Praying our “Hail Mary” as we do each time we enter a Church or Religious Shrine which we dedicated to our country).  No one was in the Church and we had no idea what we might see, how close we might get to the Relinquary … of if we were even in the right place (based on the day we had had).

As we approached the Sanctuary, high above the Altar and Main Tabernacle was another Tabernacle that appeared to be of gold.  After closer scrutiny, the front of the tabernacle above seemed to depict the “story of the miracle” but we were still not certain.  Then … THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN THE CHURCH AND WE HEARD CABINETS BEING CLOSED AND DOORS BEING LOCKED!!!  (As many of you know … “here we go again”!).

We saw a lady in the sacristry so being the diplomat I am I sent Susan in to ask her if we could go up to the Museum behind the altar.  Of course she said no, “CLOSED”. There we were, so close yet so far.  I gave the woman my best puppy dog eyes.  They came from disappointment and exhaustion.  Susan then said in a very calming and angelic voice “Relic”.  This she understood and proceeded out the door and brought back the Padre, who was most gracious, knowing we had come a long way and proceeded to take us to our destination.  Behind the altar up a flight of stairs full of statues and paintings to the door in the middle of the room behind the altar we went not knowing what we were going to see but thanks to our friend Michelle we knew to ask and that we would get us very close to Miraculous Body & Blood of Our Lord

He opened the door and knelt very solemnly before going up to unlock the door to the Relinquery  as we knelt behind him.  There were about 7 very steep steps and a low-rise that you had to squeeze under so you didn’t crack your head.  Padre was quick to point out to me to watch my head.  The Priest went up alone since only one can ascend at a time.  He Prayed for a couple of minutes before backing down the narrow steps.  Susan went first  and she really can’t explain her personal experience.  The thing she remembered most vividly when she got there and she told me later was that she looked and said  … IT IS YOU!  Telling Jesus, I suppose, that she wasn’t sure He was going to be there. It was a perfect child like thing to say.

I went next.  And I, too, can’t explain the feeling of being so close to and being able to venerate the Second Greatest Eucharistic Miracle ever.  I stood there alone, in awe and weak at the knees.  I felt humble and grateful for such a wonderful honor and experience (you have to read the story of this Miracle below to understand). 

I could have stood there for hours but I soon realized that we have that same wonderful experience of the “Miracle” at every Mass we attend when we receive the Body & Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.  I slowly backed down the steps to “reality”.

Father directed us toward the Intention Book before he locked up once again.  Susan signed the Intention Book and listed … in one quick note … Susan & Tom Melillo … on behalf of all of our family and friends traveling on this journey with us. 

No photos were allowed at all in the Church at Santarem.  I must confess that I managed to sneak a couple.

As we were leaving, I purchased a small Cross (which is a Relic) with a depiction of the Miracle from the Sacristan.  It will join all of our special objects on our table when we return home  I attempted to light some candles … but those lights got shut off as well I guess.  The Euros went in, the lighs went out again… … maybe tomorrow morning they will light … the intention was there.

After this experience, we felt revived as we made our way back to our car.  We passed by the police officer who had guided us … gave him the thumbs up and thanked him.  Found our car and headed to Fatima.

Just when you think things are going your way … the “fan” was hit again!  The roads in Fatima are all torn up … it is a nightmare.  Round and round we went.  We saw our hotel but we couldn’t get there.   I finally stopped the car and walked to the hotel to get help.  20 minutes later, the young lady guided me and we were parked right outside the front door of the hotel … God is good.  The construction in Fatima is not.

Well, here we are.  Great room and people speak English.  Finally relaxing after a tedious 10 hour treck today. 

 Now, we are off to The Shrine at Fatima for the  9:30 P.M. Rosary and Procession.  It is 11:00 P.M. as we are writing this to all of you … so here is our late evening recap before we retire. 


We made it to the Shrine just in time as the service was about to begin at the “Cova D Iria” were 5 apparitions of Our Lady Took place, including the Miracle of the Sun when over 70,000 people were present.  We had been here 6 years ago for only an hour while on a cruise but felt like we had never left.
There didn’t seem to be many people for the rosary because they were all crowded around the shrine and way off by the Basilica.  Everyone prayed the Rosary and they began a procession of the Virgin around the square.  Then you could see 1000”s of people.  Can’t wait to go back tomorrow to deliver you intentions.


You are going to get this tonight with the story of Santarem below or on another e-mail as well as probably 2 sets 0f photos.  We hope you enjoy.  Tomorrow we will send you the story of Fatima as well as what ever else we encounter.

We also want to thank all of you who sent us you comments, prayers, intentions and wishes since (what day is it?) we left.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother bless all of you and those you pray for.

Noite Boa (good evening in Portuguese)

Love Tom & Susan

    The second most famous Eucharistic Miracle after Lanciano.

Not far from the Catholic shrine at Fatima and 45 miles north of Lisbon isSantarém, home of a number of notable churches. One of them, the Church of the Holy Miracle (Igreja do Santissimo Milagre) is home to a 13th-century eucharistic miracle. The shrine is among the most famous of its kind and is visited by thousands of pilgrims.


The story of the miracle centers on an early-13th-century woman with anunfaithful husband. Desperate to regain his faithfulness and save her marrige, she consulted a sorceress. The sorceress said she would cure the husband's infidelity for the price of a consecrated host (Eucharistic wafer). After much deliberation, the woman decided to commit the sacrilege.
The next time she attended Mass at the 12th-century Church of St. Stephen, she took the consecrated wafer from her mouth, wrapped it in a veil and headed quickly for the door. But before she had taken more than a few steps, the host began to bleed. It bled so much that concerned parishioners thought she had cut her hand and attempted to help, but she ran out of the church.
Back at home, she threw the bloody host in a trunk in her bedroom. Her husband did not come home until late, as usual. In the middle of the night, they were both awoken by a mysterious light emanating from the trunk. The woman confessed to her husband what she had done and they both knelt in repentance before the miracle. The next morning, the couple told the parish priest what had happened. The priest placed the miraculous host in a wax container and returned it to the Church of St. Stephen. Word spread quickly, and the townspeople hurried to the church to see the miracle.
The next time the priest opened the tabernacle that contained the miraculous host, another miracle occurred! The wax container was found broken into pieces, and the host was enclosed in a crystal pyx. This pyx was placed in a silver monstrance, where it can be seen today.
After an investigation, the Catholic Church approved the recognition of the miracle. The Church of St. Stephen was renamed the Church of the Holy Miracle, and it is one of Portugal's most-visited pilgrimage sites. St. Francis Xavier visited the Church of the Holy Miracle before setting off for missionary work in India.
The church was rebuilt in the 16th century.