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Our Lady of the Lakes - An Italian Pilgrimage

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S: An Italian Pilgrimage!


FC: An Italian Pilgrimage! | Venice | Florence | Rome | Assisi

1: Buon Giorno Italy | ITALY | ARRIVED 10 OCT 2012 | On Oct. 9, 2012, members of OLL Choir plus many parishioners flew to Venice, Italy. Ambra, our tour guide met us at the airport and rode with us on the tour bus, driven by Luca, to Mestre, a Venice suburb. The weather was cloudy and drizzling, but that did not dampen our spirits. It was hard to believe that we were actually in Italy after looking forward to this trip for more than a year. We had many pancake breakfasts, garage sales and an Italian Night Dinner fundraiser to help us achieve our dream. | MIAMI, FL | DEPARTED 9 OCT 2012

2: Day One Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Since the hotel rooms were not yet available, We divided into three groups: one went with Ambra to Murano and Venice, the second went on a tour of islands of Murano, Burano, Torcello, & Venice and third group had an adventure in Padua. After our respective tours, tired from our probably 36 hours or more without sleep, we checked into our hotel and had dinner and settled down for the night.

3: Islands of Murano, Burano, Torcello, & Venice Some of us took a water bus tour of Murano, Burano and Torcello Islands. Murano is famous for beautiful hand blown glass products and Burano, a fishing village, is famous for its exquisite lace. On the island of Torcello is Venice's first church, Santa Maria Assunta, built in the 7th century.

4: Murano & Venice Ambra's group finally made it to a taxi boat stopping by the island of Murano to see the famous Murano glass blowers. A dying art only a handful of craftsmen remain. The pieces in their galleries were amazing. This group spent the rest of the afternoon was exploring the Island of Venice.

5: While the majority of our group toured the famous islands, five of us rode a train to Padua to visit the Basilica of St. Anthony and its museum. We were surprised that the local population were mostly in their twenties. It turned out that Padua has long been known for its universities. The museum and historical sites were unforgettable.

6: Venezia

7: Thursday, October 11, 2012 | Day Two

9: The next day we returned to Saint Mark's Square where we began a walking tour of the city. Venice is such a charming place lined with narrow allies and streets. There are numerous shops and cafés everywhere. Later in the afternoon the choir gathered in the piazza to rehearse a few hymns for the Mass we were scheduled to sing at St. Mark's Basilica. The beautiful Byzantine mosaics are a symbol of Venetian wealth and power. As we sang crowds of people stopped to listen and even threw a few Euros into a hat someone had placed on the ground. | BASILICA OF SAN MARCO

10: Ciao!

12: Firenze

13: Day Three Friday, October 12, 2012 | The next day, Friday, Oct. 12th, we left Mestre to drive south through the Tuscan hills to the city of Florence. When we arrived in Florence, our guide took us on a tour of the Academia Gallery which houses Michelangelo's David and many other famous works of art. After lunch we sang at the city's main church, Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Flore. Construction of the church began in 1296 and was not completed until 1436. It is another example of amazingly beautiful architectural work and is crowned with the magnificent dome by Brunelleschi.

18: Day Four Saturday, October 13, 2012 On Saturday we had a full day of leisure in the city, and we enjoyed the opportunity to shop, sightsee and get the flavor of the city. Many of us went to the Uffizi Museum. The Uffizi was the home of the powerful Medici family. Now it houses some of the most famous artwork in the world. Some thought the highlight of the day was being on the Ponte Vecchio, Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River. Others discovered the city market, and still others took an excursion to Pisa to see the famous leaning tower!

19: Glu Uffizi Firenze | THE UFFIZI FLORENCE

20: Gelato was on everyone's mind and there was no shortage of it or limit of how much we could eat. For dinner that night, Ambra took part of the group to a lovely restaurant in the Chianti region. There was more wine than we could drink. The food was delicious. The most talked about drink that night was the blue champagne, which we had before dinner. Musicians sang to us throughout the dinner and we joined in on a few songs. When it came time for dessert, they brought out a cake with candles and sang happy birthday to Diana.

22: Siena | Saint Catherine of Siena, (1347-1380) a Scholastic philosopher and theologian. She was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970 and is one of the two patron saints of Italy, together with St. Francis of Assisi.

23: Day Five Sunday, October 14, 2012

24: Roma

25: On Sunday, October 14,we set out for the Eternal City, where we checked in at the Star Michelangelo Hotel and received our room keys which were actual keys on a heavy, ornate keychain. We had just enough time to change for Mass and made a mad dash to Vatican City. The highlight of the day was singing at the 5:30 PM Mass at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter's Basilica. That was truly a moving experience.

26: St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world, was designed by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture. The church is located on Vatican Hill, across the Tiber river from the historic center of Rome. This was the site where Saint Peter, the chief apostle, died a martyr and where he was buried in 64 AD.

28: Day Six Monday, October 15, 2012 We explored Rome, starting with a tour at the Church of St. Peter in Chains. We saw the actual chains St. Peter wore as he was brought into Rome. It also housed Michelangelo's Sculpture of Moses. From there we walked to the Coliseum for a tour of the ancient Roman Ruins. Lunch was at a small lunch counter with more delicious gelato for dessert!

33: In the afternoon we toured the Vatican Museums. We walked through the Sistine Chapel and marveled at Michelangelo's beautiful frescoes. We saw the Pieta and prayed at the tomb of Pope John XXIII, whose body is intact and encased in a glass coffin. We ended the day feasting on gelato.

34: Assisi

36: Day seven Tuesday, October 16, 2012 began at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, which was constructed between 1569 and 1679. Within the Basilica exists a 9th century little church named the Porziuncola. It was here that the young Francis of Assisi realized his vocation. He renounced all worldly goods to live in poverty. Shortly thereafter, he founded the Franciscan Order.

37: The bus had to park below the city of Assisi because the narrow streets were steep and the turns too sharp. Running behind schedule, we just barely made it to the Eleven O'clock Mass at the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi. To make it on time we had to run up the hill to the Basilica, but it was worth it. I was one of the first who made it into the Lower Basilica. We were greeted by a smiling priest who realized we were the choir by the music in our hands. He then led us to our reserved pews. Crammed in and catching our breath we sang. The acoustics were amazing. At the end of Mass the priests gave Sr. Helene a certificate and they stayed after for pictures.

38: Audience with the Pope | Vatican City

39: Day Eight Wednesday, October 17, 2012 Our last day in Rome was Wednesday, October 17th, the day of the papal audience where we were scheduled to sing. Although the day began overcast and rainy, by the time we arrived at St. Peter's Square, the sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. It was thrilling to be sitting there outside St Peter's with thousands of people from all over the world. Loud cheers went up all as the pope arrived sitting out in the open rather then in his pope mobile. We got a good view of him as he passed not too far from us. As usual he delivered his message in several languages and gave the papal blessing.

40: After the audience we had a couple of hours of free time, so several of us went to the Spanish Steps and then to the Triniti Del Monti where a beautiful fresco of the Virgin Mary hangs on the wall of the chapel. Afterwards, we stopped by the famous Trevi fountain.

41: After lunch we boarded our bus for a tour of Rome and her outskirts. We went past the Tiberina Island, the Aventine Hill, the pyramid of Caius Cestius, and St. Paul's Gate which is part of the Aurelian Wall, the ancient city wall. Then we visited the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, a magnificent structure built by Constantine in the 4th century on the site of St. Paul's tomb. Inside the church near the ceiling were paintings of every pope from St Peter to Benedict XVI.

43: From there we drove directly to our farewell dinner at Benito Restaurant. We enjoyed a five course banquet of delicious food, plenty of wine, and lovely live music. We returned to our hotel in high spirits to pack our bags and try to get a good night's sleep before our 5 A.M. rising. Our trip was truly an amazing experience that brought all of us closer together and made us more grateful for the faith we profess.

44: Back Row: Audrey Valhuerdi, Sr. Helene Kloss, Meg Mchugh, Marie Ochoa, Angela Aguilar, Ameli Padron-Fragetta, Bill Fragetta Middle Row: Irma Rosa Boudet, JoAnn Frick, Louise Kloss, Nivea Morales, Kathy Seiler, Brenda Arbelaez, Elicia Alabata, Edith Iragorry Front Row: Sally Whitton, Evelia Beldzik, Sonia Gomez-Zepeda, Luz Elena Gil, Madina Chuck, Edith Punte

45: Arrivederci Italy! Until we meet again... | Back Row: Gabe Menvielle, Mario Davila, George Seiler, David Shannon, Erin Fragetta , Sr. Patricia Munich, Pierre Saliba, Earl(Dave) Davis Middle Row: Ellena Salum, Maria Teresa Zarabozo, Kate Hamer, Christy Fragetta, Patricia Garcia, Dominique Saliba, Georgina Davis Front Row: Irma Matos, Nilda Ulloa Sanchez, Diana Stone, Daniel Linares, Regine Dorvil, Nadya Borno Here is Adriana Pitzo Ruiz de la Cruz is missing from the group photo.

46: Angela Aguilar, Alto | Elicia Alabata, Alto | JoAnn Frick, Alto | Louise Kloss, Alto | Meg Mchugh, Alto | Nivea Morales, Alto | Marie Ochoa, Alto | Ameli Padron-Fragetta, Alto | Kathy Seiler, Alto | Audrey Valhuerdi, Alto | Nadya Borno, Soprano | Regine Dorvil, Soprano | Erin Fragetta, Soprano | Patricia Garcia, Soprano | Kate Hamer, Soprano | Edith Iragorry, Soprano | Sr. Patricia Munich, Soprano | Dominique Saliba, Soprano | Ellena Salum, Soprano | Diana Stone, Soprano | David Shannon, Organist | Sr. Helene Kloss, Director | Our Lady of the Lakes | Italy Choir

47: Brenda Arbelaez | Official Choir Groupies | Evelia Beldzik | Irma Rosa Boudet | Madina Chuck | Earl (Dave) Davis | Georgina Davis | Christy Fragetta | Luz Elena Gil | Sonia Gomez-Zepeda | Daniel Linares | Irma Matos | Adriana Pitzo-Ruiz de la Cruz | Edith Punte | Pierre Saliba | George Seiler | Nilda Ulloa-Sanchez | Sally Whitton | Maria Teresa Zarabozo, Soprano | Mario Davila, Bass | Gabe Menvielle, Bass | Bill Fragetta, Tenor

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