One of the greatest rewards in the study of theology is being able to take a pilgrimage to see where significant events took place. Diane Cortazzo of Queenship of Mary Roman Catholic Church, Northampton, organizes custom pilgrimages.
“I work on pilgrimages, but I can organize any kind of a tour,” said Cortazzo, who has quite an extensive background in European travel.
Forty-one Queenship of Mary parishioners set out on a 12-day pilgrimage in September. The group’s tour began with a trip to Barcelona, Spain. The first stop was the hillside Monastery of Montserrat, accessed via cable car over spectacular scenery. The monastery houses Catalonia’s miraculous and beloved statue of the Black Virgin.
The most photographed church in Barcelona is Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia. The church, which broke ground in 1882, is still under construction as workmen implement Gaudi’s vision. The building is awe-inspiring. The latest completion date for this labor of love is 2026. Three million visitors a year help support its 25 million euro annual expense.
The itinerary included a coach trip to the French town of Lourdes. The grotto at The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is believed to be a location for healing and miracle works. Lourdes is the world’s most-visited religious site.
From Lourdes, the group traveled to Burgos, Spain, with time to explore the city and its remarkable cathedral. The cathedral houses the tombs of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (El Cid) and his wife, who rid Spain of its North African Moorish invaders.
The last two stops are well known. Santiago de Compostela is in Spain’s Galicia region. Thousands take the monthlong journey to and from the Pyrenees Mountains to the church every year.
No pilgrimage is complete without a stop in Fatima, Portugal. Here, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared six times to three shepherd children and left them with three secrets, one of which has still not been revealed. One of the highlights of the tour is Fatima’s candlelight rosary procession.
If interested in a pilgrimage or custom trip of your own, contact Cortazzo at firstname.lastname@example.org.