It has been a fast three weeks since I got back from the Rideau Canal in Canada, and I was so busy in town I never really told you I was going again. So, here I am, “live from Fatima, Portugal.” Hopefully I can post this story later. There is WI-FI in the public areas, secured, and I asked the desk manager for the password shortly after we arrived close to 4 PM, and she said, “I will give it to you at dinner,” which is at 7:30. Confused, but I waited and at 7:20 I asked for it, and she again said, “at dinner.” Then at dinner she disappeared and I could not find her. About 8 she brought our passports back (overseas hotels usually check them when you register), and then I asked again. “Didn’t I give you your passport?”, she replied. I finally realized she thought I said passport, and now she gave me the password. Logged in, and it appears their modem is not working. Well, just found a nearby hotel with access using my I Pod Touch, so will finish what I can do here, and meander out with laptop to post.
Did not get through last night, but posting now on Thursday since the hotel got fixed and I am in touch with the world.
Monday October 31st I had no book business so I was able to start my packing check off list early and consider every item carefully. With this year’s travel experience I can now easily pack for up to 10 days in my carry-on and still have room for my laptop, but I am still carrying it separately and easily in a soft briefcase from Cathy’s LOTUS days. On Tuesday, November 1st, I slowly double checked everything again and headed out of town at noon heading for David’s. He lives close to Logan so my car has lived in his drive often recently when he takes me to the airport. I arrived at 4, and to my pleasant surprise number two son, Gary, was at David’s. Gary has a conference there later in the week, but had no power at home so headed early to David’s on Sunday. We had a nice visit catching up on his recent doings and changes before Mari and Alex arrived and then David got home.
Awhile after dinner Gary took me to the airport. I arrived at 9 for my 11:15 PM flight. Once checking in I joined up with the group I am with. I saw this pilgrimage in our church bulletin run by Corinne who has run religious pilgrimages for decades, and Cathy and I really enjoyed her bus trips to Canada (yes, we actually were surprised that we enjoyed a bus journeys). Flight was uneventful with an hour plus stop-over in the Azores, and we arrived in Lisbon at Noon, and by 1 PM were aboard a beautiful new bus, complete with fresh rug and leather smell, for the about 1 ½ hour trip to Fatima. I point out “beautiful new bus” for a reason.
Half way we made a stop at Santarem for Mass at a 13th century church celebrating a double miracle with a relic that could be venerated. From memory, the story goes something like this. A woman, distraught over her unfaithful husband asked the town’s witch how to end the problem with sorcery. The sorceress told her to bring her a consecrated host. At Mass the woman feigned eating the host, wrapped it in cloth and headed to the sorceress. On the way the host began to bleed profusely. Scared she went home instead, hid it in a dresser, and later than night as the chest began to glow brightly she and her husband prayed, and their marriage saved. The host in the cloth was then placed in the Church of St. Stephen (now the Church of the Holy Miracle). Years later, miraculously, the bloody host became encased in a crystal and the cloth reappeared in a glass container. Today the encased host is in a monstrance high above the altar and pilgrims can
climb stairs up behind the altar into a small museum, and then up a tight narrow flight of stairs to venerate the relic, albeit through a sheet of plexiglass. This was a very special treat and meaningful beginning.
Back on the bus to Fatima arriving a short time later into the city that has built up around the Cove da Iria. The bus begins to pull into our hotel between ornate stone pillars, and Ray says to himself, “his angle of attack does not look good.” But for a moment the bus was going to clear by inches, but then the slope of the drive tilted angling the top of the bus toward the pillar. Not having even the time to yell out STOP, I threw myself across my seat towards the aisle covering my head and eyes with my hands as the pillar entered the window at my seat. In case you are wondering, double pane glass on “beautiful new busses” does not splinter like window glass
– it breaks into millions of tiny fragments that get into your shoes, sport coat, hair, brief case, etc. But no harm done to me, but in trying to correct his error the driver wiped out another window. I hope he still has a job, because he was concerned if I was alright.
Check in easy, rooms very nice, and I unpacked, put things away, and showered and shaved. Before dinner we took a walk a few blocks and around the corner and Corinne showed us the Basilica and other points of interest. I expected an open field and pasture just as it was when the children tended their sheep there when Mary appeared. The surprising thing to me is that the area (of course) is all built up and no longer a pasture where Mary appeared, but the spot is marked with a stature of her, and surrounding that is an open chapel where we will have Mass in the morning. Corinne is a wealth of knowledge about the history both past and present of Fatima (and religious sites and world religion) including 2000 when she was here with the Pope and Lucia when before a crowd of a millions her cousins were Beatified.
Well it is now Thursday evening here, and even though I have had another full and fascinating day I want to post this (hopefully when I go downstairs the WI-FI is still working) I really want to relate to you the importance of Fatima and what I am seeing, so maybe I will combine the next two days. Thanks for reading along so far. As always, yours, RAY