01 September 2007

Commemoration of St. Giles, Abbot

St. Giles, an Athenian, fled to the south of France, where he lived as a hermit in a vast forest. Discovered by king Theodoric, he founded a renowned monastery and was so famous on account of his miracles that a great number of churches were dedicated to him. He died in the 6th century.

Today I woke up at 6am in order to go on pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Mariazell. The shrine, the same which the Pope will visit next Saturday, houses an ancient miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin. We walked for about 8 hours through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. Needless to say, my feet are now killing me, but if I manage to go to confession this week and detach myself from all venial sin, I will be the grateful recipient of a plenary indulgence. So, I'll deal with sore feet. Along the way we prayed together all 20 decades of the holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The few pictures that I managed to take do not do justice in the least to the awesome majesty of the Alpine Mountains. Nevertheless, here are a few of my favorites.
Our path winds right into the mountains.
Here you can see two of our party to give you a sense of scale.

For most of the day, we followed the path cut by this river as it winds its way through the mountains.

Here is our whole group together. All ITI students/staff except for three Ave Maria students here for the semester.

When there was no path, we made one.

And at long last, our destination came into sight. We heard Mass at 4:00, offered ad orientem to my great delight! And then piled into vans for the return trip. A magnificent experience that I wouldn't mind going through again in a year or so when my feet are fully recovered.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!


Margo said...

That's one thing I miss about Europe: in some areas, there are several shrines, and pilgrimages are much more of a common occurrence there than I've experienced them being here. Not to mention that beautiful chapels and shrines (even the tiny ones almost no one has heard of, right?!) are more common there than here. I'm glad the pilgrimage bug is alive and well in Gaming, and that you got to go to Mariazell!

John said...

Yeah, it's incredible how many little shrines dot the landscape around here. In a random field, or clearing in the woods, they will be a little hut with a statue, a candle, some flowers, etc.