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Pilgrim Cooperators visit Padua, Valdocco and Becchi


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Sr Ella FMA describes the joys of the recent Salesian Cooperators’ pilgrimage to Italy.


Every two years, Eamonn McDonald of the Cowley Co-operators, organises a Pilgrimage to Italy which always includes Valdocco and the places associated with Don Bosco. Sixteen “Pilgrims” set off from various parts of the U.K. We all met in Bologna Airport where our coach took us to Rimini where the Salesians have a holiday house facing the sea! Accommodation, food and weather were excellent. Our Sisters gave us a warm welcome at our house round the corner! On one day a guided tour of the ancient Republic of San Marino was included, a remarkable experience into another world and outstandingly beautiful!




Another Salesian House welcomed us for lunch on our way to Loreto. This is a Retreat House high in the hills with magnificent views of the sea in the distance. A Salesian, who had worked in Liberia, came specially to say Mass for us in English We then went down to Loreto where the Holy House of Nazareth has been venerated for centuries. A magnificent Basilica surrounds it. Again Eamonn had booked a guided tour for us. We returned to Rimini for a final dip in the sea and stroll barefoot on the soft golden sand. What a treat!


On our journey north we stopped in the marvellous ancient Roman city of Ravenna, what a history it has! Our Guide had spent some years in Ireland so spoke English well and had a delightful sense of humour. Our journey continued to Abano Terme. The Salesians have a magnificent complex there. It is a Spa centre with healing mud! Medical treatment is available with trained practitioners available. There are two swimming pools one outside the other partially inside because of the heat! The pine trees surrounding the gardens offer welcome shade. The ancient church is always open and we enjoyed our prayer there.


On Saturday evening Eamonn provided a surprise for us. He had arranged the coach to take us to Verona to attend the Opera “Aida”. What a treat! It was in the ancient Roman Amphitheatre. There was an audience of 10,000 in half of the space, the other half was used for the spectacle. There was a cast of hundreds and of course a full orchestra, magnificent!


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Sr Ella and Sr Cristina

The next day we were welcomed at our Provincial House in Padua, a lovely Villa set in a park! They also have not one but TWO secondary schools! Sr. Cristina who had stayed with us in Cowley told us about their work for the Asylum Seekers of whom there are many. She then accompanied us to the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua in the city. There were many Pilgrims there from all over the world as St. Anthony is so well known and loved.


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Next day we travelled by train to Turin. It was raining very heavily on our arrival but the next day all was sunny and hot again. Valdocco was really our point of Pilgrimage and did not disappoint. Pinardi Chapel, St. Francis of Sales Church, Don Bosco’s rooms and of course the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians looking even more resplendent than ever. What joy for all of us to be there where it all began. Our Sisters over in 35 welcomed us too and showed us something of the house and the Chapels. We stayed in a hotel a short distance away but had our meals in Valdocco which was very nice.


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Eamonn had yet another surprise for us on our last day: a trip to Becchi! That really was the icing on the cake! We had plenty of time and opportunity to wander around and drink in the significance of what had developed from that poor hamlet. What great things the Lord has done for us.

Sr Ella Flynn FMA






Last modified on Tuesday, 11 September 2018 15:24


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