Even with so much time spent together over fall break, sweet Kristen was down for yet another adventure! We made grand plans to have a real pilgrimage/retreat weekend to the region of Puglia.
We went to a remote little town on the mountain of Gargano called San Giovanni Rotondo, made famous by a contemporary Catholic Saint: Padre Pio. He's basically a modern-day St. Francis, stigmata and all.
He only died in '68, so we know so much about his personal life than we do of older Saints. He had such a close relationship with his God, and loved others so intensely, it's almost enviable. And it was so beautiful getting to know him, and to feel the support of his prayers as we retreated near his tomb and old friary.
I guess it might seem weird that we're so interested in the Saints, but here's the premise. A wise friend once said, "If you want to find out whether a stick is crooked, measure it against a straight one."
We also took a day trip to Monte Sant'Angelo, where according to legend, St. Michael the Archangel appeared in the grotto, and it's now a basilica...that's right, a cave-church and the oldest shrine in Western Europe, AKA awesome. I can't even explain the graces we received here, like resting in God's very Heart.
ascending the mountain
Then, we met the most precious living saint, Biagio, who owns a bread shop in San Gio. He locked up shop, bought us cafe, kissed us Italian-style on our cheeks, and packed us enough food for the train ride home to feed an army.
our precious Biagio!
These encounters with people who live so selflessly are tangible reminders that we are not made to live for ourselves, but for others. Cheesy reading-rainbow message, I know, but y'all should be used to that by now.