*FAITH, Down Memory Lane, The World (TRAVEL)

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy: St. Padre Pio’s Sanctuary

September 23 is the day the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. It was also on this day in 1968 when he joined our Creator and became a more powerful intercessor. 🙂

He’s known more as Padre Pio (and personally, I prefer to call him St. Padre Pio! Hehe!). Two years ago, I had the privilege to visit his resting place in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy (which was four hours away from Rome by land travel – train-walk- and bus), where his incorruptible body also rests.

I wasn’t able to write about that experience in detail (with the exception of my photo blog – check out “Euro Trip 2018 Highlights: Italy and the Vatican”), but for some special reason, I’ve been called this year to finally recall the details.

As you read on my previous blog entry, I’m currently pregnant and I had a hard time during my first trimester due to nausea/vomiting, etc. It was an excruciating and frustrating time; I even lost around 6 lbs. then because I couldn’t eat and drink properly. During one of those days while I was in bed, I scrolled through the photos on my phone. Then, I saw this:

my “prayer letter” to St. Pio in 2018, written while inside his former tomb

I totally forgot about this “prayer letter” I left in San Giovanni Rotondo when I visited St. Pio‘s place! In 2018, two years before I got married and pregnant (my husband Ish and I weren’t even engaged then), I was already claiming and praying for our “future godly family” and my “healthy and safe future pregnancies and child birth” — like woah! It was like the Holy Spirit gave me a wake-up call and reminded me that everything was, is, and will be fine. As St. Pio used to say, “pray, hope, and don’t worry.” Of course I asked and continues to ask for his intercession, and I’m a witness to how powerful his prayers are.

In James 5:16, it is said, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” Read the last line again, and I can say it very much applies to St. Pio! No wonder he’s a favorite among fellow Catholics! 😉

If you happen to be in Italy, I highly suggest you also pay his place a visit. Here’s how to get there:

“Approximate price” is in Philippine pesos (PHP)

  1. From Rome, go to the Roma Termini train station.
  2. Buy a train ticket going to Foggia (this will be a 3-hour train ride).
  3. Once in Foggia, travel by foot to the Foggia bus station (this will take around 10 minutes).
  4. Buy a bus ticket going to San Giovanni Rotondo.
  5. When you’re on the San Giovanni Rotondo-bound bus, relax for 30 minutes because in no time, you’ll finally arrive at St. Padre Pio‘s sanctuary!

Upon stepping down the bus, you’ll be welcomed by these awesome sites:

the church-shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggia, Italy

I went with my two ates! And yes, I miss traveling with them!

the church altar where St. Pio said his last Holy Mass

St. Pio’s confessional box, where he usually already knew the confessor’s sins even before they were spoken

As a bonus, there are also two other important relics inside the church-shrine:

relic of St. Teresa of Calcutta inside St. Pio’s church-shrine

relic of St. John Paul the Great inside St. Pio’s church-shrine

As a devout Filipino Roman Catholic, I remember that whenever a Saint’s relic would be toured in the Philippines, people always flock the place where it’s displayed — even queueing for hours! But in St. Pio‘s church-shrine, there were no long lines! The place was really quiet and sacred, that’s why I really suggest that if you’re already in Italy, take the opportunity to travel to San Giovanni Rotondo. Sure, it may take a whole day in your travel itinerary, but I can assure you that it’s definitely worth it!!! 🙂

St. Pio, pray for us!

St. Pio of Pietrelcina, PRAY FOR US!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

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SPECIAL FEATURE: The Travelers, The World (TRAVEL)

Featured Traveler: Youmi and GEORGIA

As a continuation of my travel blog project (which started all the way back in 2012, wherein I feature different travelers who have been to unique destinations OR have unique experiences in familiar places), I’m featuring someone who has been to a Eurasian country that has that Eastern European charm without the costly Schengen visa– and- Euro combo needed when one wants to travel to Europe — I’m talking about my friend, Youmi, and her trip to the enchanting country of GEORGIA (not to be confused with the U.S. state). 😉

Youmi in Chicago, Illinois, USA

For those dreaming to travel to Europe, Georgia may not be part of the Schengen states, but it’s a good place to start! It’s a country that’s half Eastern Europe and half Western Asia, making it unique already because you can be in two continents depending on what part you find yourself in. And for Filipinos like me, applying for a Georgian visa is easier than the traditional European Schengen visa because it can be applied online (e-visa) through https://www.evisa.gov.ge/GeoVisa/en/VisaApp. Very interesting, indeed!

So, let’s get to know more about Youmi, her travel background, and her life-changing trip to Georgia! *hint, hint*

“I started traveling around the Philippines only and I enjoyed it so much, so I thought, ‘What more if I travel to other countries?’ That’s when I tried to go to Hong Kong where the nearest Disneyland is located. After that, traveling to other countries became part of my ‘goals,'” Youmi said when asked how her love for traveling started.

As of this writing, she has been to a total of ten (10) countries outside the Philippines: 🇭🇰🇲🇴🇬🇪🇺🇸🇸🇬🇰🇷🇲🇦🇲🇨🇯🇵🇼🇸 — can you guess what these flags are? 🙂

In Georgia, the major places she visited were Tbilisi, Narikala, Gudauri, and Signagi…

flea market in Tbilisi

Georgian bread worth 1 Lari – the official currency of Georgia (around Php17)

various artworks sold in Narikala

Georgian wood art

free amusement at Mtatsminda Park

Old Tbilisi

Georgian National Museum

inside the Georgian National Museum

Old Tbilisi

Signagi

Wine World in Signagi

food and drinks at Wine World

Bodbe Monastery in Signagi (the main religion in Georgia is Christianity, under the Georgian Orthodox Church)

snow in Signagi

…her most unforgettable experience, though?

It was in Georgia where Youmi got engaged to the love of her life, James! ❤

Mtatsminda Park – the place where James asked Youmi to be his wife!

Gudauri ski resort (located at the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range) – where Youmi experienced her first now, with her engagement ring to boot!

Youmi and James in Georgia

As someone who has been through that moment” (a.k.a. a marriage proposal) most females dream of, I could imagine how Youmi felt! Each engagement is unique and special, and I pray for a great marriage for these two all the days of their lives — which all started in Georgia! They actually got civilly married there, which required notarization from the Georgian Consulate in Manila in order to be recognized locally… no worries, though. The couple planned a Christian ceremony anyways! Life-changing, no? 😀

What started in Georgia will continue as Youmi lives her life as a wife and mother. She plans to travel to more places, including her dream destination, Iceland (mine, too!), because for her, “Travel is freedom. It is my breather. I travel when I want a reset in all the stresses I have in life. I also travel when I feel that my life is becoming routinary. I travel to live fully, to learn in every place, and to allow the world to shape me in becoming the best person I can truly be.”

Her quick- and-easy travel tips are:

  • Research and plan for your trip
  • Pack less (because less is more!)
  • Get good shoes and walk everywhere if you can
  • Go with no expectations (inconsistencies/surprises are part of the experience)
  • Buy and try new things — something that will make you remember the place

So what are you waiting for? Georgia is a beautiful country and after Youmi‘s sharing, it automatically became part of my “countries I want to travel to” list — I even have a hashtag in mind already: #GeorgetteInGeorgia WAHAHAHAHA! 😛

❤ ❤ ❤

*all photos in this feature are from Youmi herself


For more of my other featured travelers on this blog, click HERE.

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*FAITH, Down Memory Lane, Gathered Thoughts, Marked on the Calendar, The World (TRAVEL), Year Enders

2018, You Were Really Somethin’

Last year, I said in my annual “year-ender” blog post that “I actually consider 2017 as my BEST YEAR.” But I also concluded that entry with this: “Yes, 2017 was my best year… SO FAR. Not to worry, though. I have a feeling na hindi naman papatalo si 2018 ehApir!”

And indeed, hindi nga nagpatalo ang 2018 ko! 😀

I’m going to make this year ender short and simple. God really took over my 2018, and He actually made me feel His tender loving care (TLC) through these things that made a mark on me this year:

Travels

God once again answered my travel dreams by allowing me to visit four new countries I haven’t been to before… including my last stop: the heart of my Catholic faith — The Vatican!!! ❤

my 2018 travels

Love

Well, if there’s something I’m most grateful for this year, it’ll be my special someone: Ish. 🙂 Yes, friendsss, I’m in a relationship with someone who I love and highly respect — most of all, who loves God more than anyone and anything, even more than me and I like that fact very much! Also, I’m happy that God allowed him to find me at a time when I was very content with my single life and not really looking for a boyfriend (my close friends could attest that before I met Ish, I was actually planning on entering the convent! HA HA HA). But God had other plans for my life, and He knows what’s best. Indeed, God works on His own timeline — so to all my single friends reading this, just continue to trust Him and let Him surprise you. God NEVER FAILS, and He’s still probably preparing the one for you to be at his/her best according to His will (or perhaps, preparing YOU)! In His perfect time, all will fall into place. Not your time, but His perfect time.

Career

My work is still one of my answered prayers ever since I started working at my dream workplace almost four years ago. This year, God surprised me even more with a promotion I didn’t really expect to happen at all in 2018! Haha! When the opportunity opened, I just grabbed it and placed it in God’s hands… it has been a quarter since I acquired my new position at work. There are added responsibilities and I admit that I’m still in the learning process (learning never stops anyway), but as I enter the new year, I’m excited for what God has in store more for my career, trusting that He always has got me covered! 😉

So, that was my 2018. As the newest Miss Universe, Catriona Gray (yay for the Philippines!), reminded us in her winning answer: “be grateful” and “see situations with a silver lining.” I totally agree (in fact, “gratitude” has always been a recurring theme in all of my year-ender posts since 2011!). As we enter 2019, let’s continue to be grateful and to see situations with a silver lining… but most importantly (as one post I saw also mentioned), may Ms. Gray‘s win be a reminder of how beautiful you are in God’s eyes. Don’t let the world dictate who you are; operate in God’s universe and see how He can transform you into being a true champion and warrior who is made in His image and likeness! 🙂

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them…” -Genesis 1:27

I pray that you’ll allow God to be the center of your universe this coming 2019, and may He bless you abundantly!!!

As for me, if 2017 was my so-called “best year” and 2018 was really something, I claim in Jesus‘ mighty name that 2019 will be my MOST BLESSED YEAR BY FAR! ❤

HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

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