Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Pilgrimage

WYD Organizers Release the Official Hymn

The 2011 World Youth Day Committee has released the official hymn for the 2011 WYD. The hymn entitled, Firm in the Faith, may be downloaded. At the download site are three various scores that will be used throughout the event. Additionally, the words may be downloaded.

The lyrical composition was written by Auxiliary Bishop of Madrid César Franco, general coordinator of World Youth Day (WYD). The verses of the hymn are meant to demontrate,

the humanity of Christ in the traditional Spanish mystical style, and aim to bring that humanity closer to the young people.

The musical score was composed by Fr. Enrique Vázquez, a religious music composer. The song is based on St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. The refrain or chorus says:

Firm in the faith, we walk in Christ,
Our Friend, Our Lord,
Glory always to Him! Glory always to Him!
We walk in Christ firm in the faith.

Today, We Honor You Who Faithfully Intercede for Us

I credit my conversion and love of Scripture to my paternal grandmother whose heart belonged to the Mystical Rose of heaven. Today, on the Feast of All Souls, I will be remembering her and all those who have gone before me and continue to cheer me on to the finish line. I would like to honor three of them this afternoon.

My grandmother, Margaret Alfong Silva, was raised Buddhist in Honolulu Hawai’i. At age thirteen, she was walking past St. Therese’s church when she heard singing and went into the Church to investigate. As the story goes, the priest shared the gospel and she soon converted. Through her example, the majority of her family converted to Catholicism within a year or two. I have no memory of her without a Bible in one hand and a Rosary in the other. Even when she slept, the Holy Writ was pressed close to her heart. She is the one who taught me to pray the Rosary and to devote myself to the suffrage of the dead. Every Sunday we went to the cemetery where my grandfather, Manuel Marques Silva, was buried to pray and provide new flowers. I think her devotion in remembering the dead is deeply rooted in the Asian culture which was sanctified when she became Catholic.

Another individual I will remember today is Christy Ann Chronowski. In high school, she, and her two sisters Franny and Caroline, made me part of their family. I am not clear how it happened but suddenly I was part of their family and shared in all the benefits of having more siblings and a holy set of adopted parents. Christy and I went to high school and then college together. She was one of those rare souls that from an early age was on the fast-track to sanctity. In 1990, I remember sitting in her living room listening to and praying with her as she offered herself completely to the Lord for His glory – body and soul. Later that year she was diagnosed with cancer. Still, nothing deterred her from her love and faithfulness to Christ and His bride the Church. One day, when I called to check on her, she shared that she didn’t realize how vain she was until her hair was shaved off and then subsequently fell out due to her treatments. Even as she lay dying, she ministered to numerous priests and laity alike. Unfortunately, she succumbed to cancer in 1993.  Christy taught me to unfailingly oppose compromise in this life. Truth is essential. She taught me that charity does not exclude truth but only exists in its presence. Most of all, I experienced a love of an older sister who had no problem putting me in my place when needed it – thanks Christy.  I continue to ask my sister in heaven to intercede for me and I hope to join her one day. I figure she will have a better view of our Lord but frankly, I will be happy to be there.

Msgr. James McMutrie, priest of the Diocese of Arlington, may he rest in peace, was an Irishman that you either loved or loved to hate. There was no in-between. He has played a center role  in my life and I pray that he continues to do so until the Lord calls me home. On October 20, 1983, I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. At the time, I was having more than 10 grand mal seizures a night. Due to the physical abuse I was taking in the halls from my peers and the fact that several of my instructors did not want a “freak” in their class, he moved me from Lake Braddock to Holy Spirit (which we couldn’t afford0 in eighth grade.  Since we had no way of paying at the time the Principle told us to take a walk. He he sat down with her and assisted her in discerning her career options and became the benefactor for me. Needless to say, I was in class the next morning. Due to my medication regiment, have few memories of 1983/1984. However, I unfortunately do remember one evening when the medication-induced hallucinations became so bad that I saw the floor in my room disappear. In its place were flames and faces on my bedroom walls shouting obscenities at me. My father rescued me from that terror and I earn a stay at Georgetown. As you might expect, I refused to enter my room from that point forward. After six months, Monsignor came to the house and sent everyone away except the two of us. He prayed that the devil would be gone from that room and then blessed the walls and floor with holy water. After about an hour of coaxing, I entered my room again to stay. A month later he took me to a Mass and healing service celebrated by Fr. Ralph DiOrio. From that day forward, I stopped taking my medication cold-turkey and never had another seizure. Monsignor made sure that I went to Paul VI at which time, during my Sophemore year, I met the instructor who evangelize me and the rest is history. He had such an influence on me that my wife and I made him Nicholas’ godfather. As he was my oldest son’s godfather in life so too does he intercede for him in death.

There are many more beloved souls that have continued to assist me in my family’s pursuit of holiness. How about you? Who are the souls that have gone before you and assisted you in your pilgrimage to the Eternal City?  We would love to hear about them here at the Q Continuum. Until then,

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen!

Where in the World is Waldo…I Mean Carolyn and Meredith

Today we have a twofer…Carolyn and Meredith are close to ending their Camino pilgrimage. Last night they stayed in Aruza and today they are traveling to Arca.  Tomorrow, off to Santiago!  So far it has been an exciting five days of hiking, getting to know fellow pilgrims, blessings galore, and passing through towns filled with history and miracles.

There is very little about Aruza and Arca on the net (at least in English anyway).  But, I thought that we could join Carolyn and Meredith as they prepare for the last day of hiking into Santiago with the Camino Pilgrim’s Prayer:


“Lord, you who called your servant Abraham out of the town of Ur in Chaldea
and who watched over him during all his wanderings; you who guided the Jewish
people through the desert; we pray for you to watch your servants, who
for the love of your name, make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Be for us,
a companion on our journey
the guide on our intersections
the strengthening during fatigue
the fortress in danger
the resource on our itinerary
the shadow in our heat
the light in our darkness
the consolation during dejection
and the power of our intention

so that we under your guidance, safely and unhurt, may reach the end of our journey,
and strengthened with gratitude and power, secure and filled with happiness,
may join our home, for Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

Apostle James, pray for us
Holy Virgin, pray for us”

Strolling Down the Camino: St. Julian and a Miraculous Statue

Carolyn and Meredith passed through the two towns of Laboreiro and San Julian whose churches are more than worthwhile to mention. They are quick on their way to Melide the center of Galicia.

The first church is the Iglesia de Santa Maria or the Church of Holy Mary located in Leboreiro. Here is how the story of the miracle goes,

Iglesia de Santa Maria was built to house a statue of the Virgin.Villagers following a lovely smell and glowing light discovered the statue at a local fountain. They placed the Virgin in their church altar, but she miraculously returned to her  fountain. For a few days, the villagers returned the statue to the altar, but by the following morning she had always reappeared at the fountain. Eventually, the villagers  decided to honor the Virgin by carving a tympanum and dedicating the church to her. (Source: Walking the Camino by Bethan Davies and Ben Cole)

Tympanum of Igelsia de Sante Maria

This beautiful and miraculous tale is perfect for this rustic Romanesque church. Some say, that she returns each evening to the fountain to comb her hair before she retires. To the left you can see the tympanum that was carved to honor her.

The second church in San Julian del Camino is dedicated, as you might surmise to St. Julian. This church was built in the twelfth century in the Romanesque style. A number of historians believe that due to the simplicity of foliates capitals and undecorated corbels suggest that is based off a Cistercian model. Sorry, couldn’t find a picture but have a great story about the region.

Legend has it that St. Julian was from this region. When St. Julian was hunting one day, he shot a deer that told him that he would kill his parents before it died. St. Julian to avoid this prophecy, exiled he and his wife for love of his parents. Years later, his parents discovered his location and wanted to surprise him and thus traveled to his house and hid in his house. When he arrived, thinking it was his wife and a lover occupying his bed, flew into a rage and killed them both by the sword. He and his wife then made a pilgrimage to Rome to repent and set up a hospice for travelers. After a number of years an angel appeared to them granting divine pardon.

Carolyn and Meredith continue to need your prayers.  Check out their blog!

Hiking the Camino: Palas de Rei

Last night Carolyn and Meredith rested in Palas de Rei. Are you praying for them? Need to keep up the prayer support they have a long way to go yet.

What can we say about Palas de Rei? To start, Palas de Rei name is derived from the Witiza the Visigothic king, Witiza who who had a palace built to hold court. Palas de Rei means, “The Palace of the King in Gallego.” The town has also hosted as its inhabitants the Celts and Romans.

The town is an important piece of European history, especially to art historians, due to its many abundant examples of Romanesque architecture. An interesting example of a typical Galician Ayuntamiento or Town Hall.

Where would you go for the Divine Liturgy? Church of san Tirso of course! The Church is dedicated to Saint Thyrsus, who is venerated as a martyr. The Roman Martyrology has it that he died for his faith during the persecution of Decius in Sozopolis (Apollonia), Phrygia. Tradition also has it that Sts. Leucius (Leukios) and Callinicus (Kallinikos) were martyred with him and that Thrysus endured many tortures before being sentanced to be sawn in half. Turns out that the saw did not cut him because his executioners miraculously could not lift it.[1] Saint Leucius, was hanged, harrowed (instrument with multiple plow blades on it) and then beheaded by the governor Cumbricius,. St. Callinicus was a pagan priest but converted after seeing the martyrdom of Thyrsus. He too was beheaded.

Thyrsus’ relics reside in Constantinople (some are now in France as well). During the Middle Ages devotion to him was so great that Thyrsus had a full office in the Mozarabic liturgy. Thyrsus is thus the titular saint of the cathedral of Sisteron in the Basses Alpes and the Cathédrale Notre Dame et Saint Thyrse. As such, Thyrsus is thus the patron saint of Sisteron.

Carolyn and Meredith, our prayers go with you! Make sure everyone visits their blog.

[1] Christian Iconography: Saint Thyrsus

Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage: Portomarin

On day two of their hiking, Carolyn and Meredith stopped to rest in Portomarin. In Portomarin is the Church of St. Nicholas which is the temple-fortress built by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The Galician town is on the main route where the Templar and Knight Hospitaller churches were built to protect the way to the tomb of Santiago.

Architecture of St. Nicholas

The church is a fine example of a late Romanesque structure designed to be both a church and a castle. Because of this it shares characteristics of both. As a church, it reveals one barrel vaulted nave, a semicircular apse and all the common Romanesque ecclesial decorative features including: a carved portal with archivolts, rose windows and carved capitals. The striking castle featueres include a perimeter surrounded by merlons. Additionally, it sports four defense towers (one at each corner) while hidden behind is an adarve or a strategically defense street.

Don’t forget to pray for Carolyn and Meredith and check out their blog!

Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage: Ponferrada/Cebreiro

Carolyn Smith and her daughter Meredith are currently on pilgrimage in Spain hiking the Camino. Meredith is blogging (check it out) their trip and I wanted to encourage you to pray for them and join them on pilgrimage. As they travel they will be sending notes and messages which the Q Continuum will be helping pass on by filling in some history. Let’s continue to cheer them on through Facebook and support them with our prayers.


The 1,000 year old pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is also known as the Way of St. James and in Spanish as the Camino de Santiago. Over 100,000 pilgrims travel to the city each year.

The Legend

Popular legend says that St. James traveled to the Iberian peninsula, preached the Gospel and rested in the Lord as a great missionary Apostle. Pope Leo XIII in the 1884 Bull of Pope Leo XIII Omnipotens Deus accepted the authenticity of the relics at Compostela. One tradition speaks of the authenticity of St. James’ relics which,

can be traced before the 12th century, the relics were said to have been discovered in 814 by Theodomir, bishop of Iria Flavia in the west of Galicia. Theodomir was guided to the spot by a star, the legend affirmed, drawing upon a familiar myth-element, hence “Compostela” was given an etymology as a corruption of Campus Stellae, “Field of Stars.” (Wikipedia)

Along the way, Carolyn and Meredith will be passing through many famous sites. On their first hiking day, they passed through Ponferrada near Cebreiro; both sites of Eucharistic miracles.


The following miracle explanation is provided in 2006 by Istituto San Clemente I Papa e Martire / Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association:

Juan De Benavente lived in Ponferrada with his wife. It was apparent that he was very devout and religious. In fact every evening he stopped in church to pray. One day, during his prayer time, he succumbed to greed and seized the tabernacle, a simple wooden container, in which there was a precious silver ciborium containing some consecrated Hosts. He fled from the church and headed towards the Sil River in order to pitch the cheap wooden tabernacle, but when he tried to launch it into the water he could not because of its sudden immense weight. So he returned home where he hid everything and said nothing to his wife. During the night continuous flashes of light came from the tabernacle, arousing the suspicion of his wife. So Juan decided to go out and dispose of his sacrilegious stolen goods. He reached a place the townspeople called the Arenal Field and threw the tabernacle and consecrated Hosts into the middle of the blackberry patch. The discovery of the crime brought dismay among all of the population and Juan became increasingly nervous and anxious, also because he did not know how to sell the silver ciborium without getting caught.

Near the Arenal Field, the owner of the land, Diego Nuñez de Losada, set up a target practice for entertainment during the feast days. During the time frame in which the sacred Hosts were still in the blackberry patch, eyewitnesses reported seeing flashes of light at night and strange doves hovering during the day. The crossbowmen tried in vain to hit the doves. The miller Nogaledo decided then to capture the doves with his own hands and ventured into the blackberry patch, discovering the tabernacle and the sacred Hosts from where the intense flashes of light originated. Disturbed, he went straight towards the church where the bells were ringing in the distance. The return of the sacred Hosts was organized with a solemn procession. Juan was overcome with remorse and decided to admit his guilt. In the place where the miraculous Hosts were recovered a chapel was immediately constructed. In 1570 the parish priest planned the expansion of the building and instituted a solemn annual procession on the eighth day of the Feast of Corpus Christi in memory of the miracle.

O’ Cebreiro

The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association also shares the miraculous story of O’ Cebreiro:

Chalice and Paton of the miracle

One icy winter in 1300 a Benedictine priest was celebrating the sacred Mass in a chapel beside the church of the convent of O’Cebreiro. On that miserable day of unceasing snow and unbearably freezing wind, he thought that no one would dare show up for Mass. He was wrong. A farmer from Barxamaior by the name of Juan Santín, left the convent to attend Mass. The priest saying Mass, who did not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament, despised in his heart the farmer’s sacrifice of good will. He began in this way to celebrate the Mass, and immediately after having  professed the words of the consecration, the Host changed to Flesh and the wine changed to Blood, and was expelled from the chalice and stained the corporal. At that very moment, it seemed that even the head of the wooden statue of the Madonna was leaning in adoration. The people today call her the “Madonna of the Sacred Miracle”. The Lord had wanted to open the eyes of the incredulous priest who had doubted and to compensate the farmer for his great devotion. For almost two hundred years the Host-changed-to-Flesh was left on the paten until Queen Isabella learned about the miracle when she passed through O’Cebreiro while on pilgrimage in Santiago de Compostela.

The queen immediately had a precious crystal shrine custom-made to hold the miraculous Host, the chalice and the paten, which to this day, can be admired in this church. Every year on the feast days of Corpus Christi, August 15th, and September 8th, the relics are taken in procession along with the Madonna. Among the most documented testimonials of the miracle are the bull of Pope Innocent VIII of 1487, that of Pope Alexander VII of 1496, and an account by Father Yepes.