Saturday, 29 September 2012

A Day trip to Zaragoza

Since our youngest son was leaving Spain before us and flying from Zaragoza, a place we had never visited, we decided to be generous parents and ferry him by car for his 7 pm flight. In order to combine a visit we left Torreciudad early and made straight for the centre of the town with the help of our newly purchased Tom Tom (which had been less than helpful thus far!) No problems this time. The voice of 'Kate' took us directly to the large underground car park below the central square where the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar is located. Reputedly the first church in history dedicated to Mary and built by St James following her only apparition prior to her Assumption

According to ancient local tradition, soon after the crucifixion and resurrection ofJesus, Saint James was preaching the Gospel in Spain, but was disheartened because of the failure of his mission. Tradition holds that on 2 January 40 AD while he was deep in prayer by the banks of the Ebro, the Mother of God appeared to him and gave him a small wooden statue of herself and a column of jasper and instructed him to build a church in her honour:

“This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build.”

The present church in Baroque style was begun in 1681 by Charles II, King of Spain and completed in 1686.

We thought the main square was impressive and its modern and ancient architecture combined beautifully.

We also had time to visit the Aljaferia Palace, an 11th century Arab palace built as a place of recreation and defence. We also enjoyed lunch in a small restaurant poular with the locals (always a good sign!) before saying goodbye to our youngest son and heading back through a torrential rainstorm to 'our place in Spain'
We hope to visit Zaragoza again as we felt we had merely scratched its surface.

Our Lady of the Pillar. Pray for us 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Renewing vows and celebrating marriage

I joined a young couple today as they marked their 10th Wedding Anniversary with a celebration. In church they renewed their vows, gave thanks for their growing family and prayed for the years ahead. Their two families came together to support them and share their memories of the past 10 years. Food, drinks and sunshine helped make the day special.
It is good to see solid  marriages celebrated in this way, especially in today's world where we see its true meaning undermined. That this couple included God in their marriage from day one and again in the renewal of their vows today, ensures that they do not journey alone. God will be with them in their joys and sorrows, pleasures and hardships until they reach their eternal goal.
It was also good to see two of our HFG families joining their celebration. Other families will have been at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland today for the annual Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form. It is a wonderful setting and the music and singing are always worthy of the occasion. It has been gloriously sunny and warm today which means that families will have lingered with their picnics. Both events seem fitting ways to also mark the Feast of Our Lady's Nativity.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Blessed Martyrs of Barbastro - Pray for us

Barbastro is the Spanish town nearest the Shrine at Torreciudad  and the birthplace of St Josemaria Escriva. In 1936 an Anarchist mob brutally disrupted life among the  Claretian Missionaries (an order founded by St Anthony Mary Claret) Between August 10th - 15th 51 priests and young seminarians were martyred here. The mob, which took them in small groups outside the town and executed them by firing squad, cried "We hate your profession, your black cassocks" and "Death to the priests and destruction to religion" They had tried to persuade these young men to renounce their Catholic faith yet not only did they stand firm in their resolve, they went to their deaths in so courageous a manner as to inspire us all in our faith.
Their remains are housed in the crypt of the church in Barbastro, each one identified by the name tag on their cassocks. A small museum tells the story of their last days on earth and most moving are their last messages written to family and friends on chocolate bar wrappers, handkerchiefs and even underneath the piano stool:-
"They are killing us out of hatred for religion. Domine, dimitte illis! (Father, forgive them!). In our house, we offered no resistance. In jail, our conduct was above reproach. Long live the Immaculate Heart of Mary! They are going to shoot us only for being religious. No ploreu per mi. Soc martir de Jesucrist (Don't cry for me, I am a martyr of Jesus Christ)." (Salvador Pigem, C.M.F.)
"Mama, don't cry. Jesus is asking me for my blood; I am going to shed it out of love for Him. I will be a martyr. I'm going to heaven. I will be waiting for you there." Salvador 8/12/36

Read more details here

When we come to Barbastro we visit the museum and venerate their remains in the crypt of the church.