The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, Leggiuno, Varese, Italy

The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is a monastery built overlooking the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore in Leggiuno, Varese. The construction of the complex is from the twelfth century; Alberto Besozzi of Arolo, dealer and lender, survivor of a shipwreck during a lake crossing, vowed to St. Catherine of Alexandria to settle there for the rest of his life in prayer and solitude in a cave on this stretch of coast. He built a chapel to the saint that we can still see at the back of the church. The relics of Blessed Albert, are inside the church. In the fourteenth century there was the construction of two churches dedicated to St Mary and San Nicolas, which were added to the complex. On the church’s facade, we find four arches that are the remains of a fresco cycle and, seen from the lake, there is the bell tower of the fourteenth century. The oldest part is the chapel from 1195, located at a lower level compared to other parts of the church, which took the size of the tomb of St. Catherine in the Sinai and on the outside, near the window there are some pictures of the transfer of the body of the saint (by the angels) at Mount Sinai. The complex is considered a national monument since 1914. It was restored and reopened in eighty years. It is currently supported by some Benedictine Oblates. The present church has five parts, initially separated, are now they’re four chapels, while the fifth is the chapel where lies Alberto Besozzi. The church is covered with many beautiful frescoes. There is also an organ and a statue of the Virgin and Child (seventeenth century). The hermitage is accessible by foot through a staircase that connects the Quicchio on one side, small group of houses, with parking for cars and a place to eat something, with the other, recently completed, that gives service from the navigation of Lago Maggiore.

Tips

If you can not take the stairs, there is a lift ($), built into the rock, which brings you to the church.
The place is very nice for a walk and to take wonderful photos of its beautiful surroundings.
In summer, there is a direct bus from Laveno. The nearest train station is Sangiano on the Luino-Milan line (3km). You can also reach the place with the lake navigation service.

 

Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rigaud, Quebec, Canada

The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage situated in the hillside of Rigaud, in a green natural area; dedicated to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. This place recalls the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, at Lourdes in France. Brother Ludger Pauzé is the person who placed a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes on the hill in 1874 and he, his superior, François-Xavier Chouinard, as well as professors and students came fervent pray to the Virgin with him. From there, the place is visited by pilgrims from different countries. There is a team of religious, volunteers and staff to welcome the people. There is a central chapel, the cave with the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and a small chapel at the top. The sanctuary is at the end of Lourdes street at the foot of the hill.

Tips

For service schedules, it’s best to look on the sanctuary page. There is a Rosary every day at 16:00. If you want to spend part of the day with friends or family, you will find a place to eat and get some rest, there are toilets and mountain trails for hiking. There are two crosses situated on the hill accessed by trails. Wear comfortable shoes because you will ride through trails or long stairs.

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Cathedral of St. James of Compostela, Spain

The cathedral of St. James of Compostela, dedicated to the Apostle James of Zebedee (saint patron and protector of Spain) is a cathedral located in the historical center of the city of St. James of Compostela, purpose of one of the great pilgrimages of medieval Europe; initiatory way in which people followed the wake of the Milky Way. At the beginning of the ninth century, Alfonso II had built the first church; in 899, Alfonso III replaced it for a greater pre-Romanesque church. The present cathedral is a Romanesque building built in granite, which work began in 1075 and was finished in 1211. It is dedicated to the relics and pilgrimages. The two towers of the western façade (Baroque churrigueresque) are from the Middle Ages and its monumental staircase of 1606. Its chapels form a museum of paintings, sculptures, reliquaries and altar pieces accumulated over the centuries. The cathedral has a plan of three naves, a large transept with aisles and stands and a sanctuary with ambulatory surrounded by a ring of chapels. The original plan had additions of the Renaissance and Baroque. A sumptuous statue of St. James is in the main altar; the crypt is below with the remains of St. James and his disciples, St. Theodore and St. Athanasius. The ambulatory, the beautiful gates, the vault of the Chapel of Mondragón, the Renaissance door of the sacristy and the cloister are the most outstanding items. Above the transept of the cathedral stands a lantern tower from whose summit is hung by steel cables a brass censer of 54 kilos which is used in special ceremonies as in Compostelan years. The treasure is housed in a Gothic chapel in the south transept of the cathedral; it has a tympanum representing the equestrian figure of the Apostle (XIII century). The King of France, Charles V had made a very important gift for it to be celebrated daily a mass for the prosperity of France, so the San Salvador chapel is also known as the Chapel of the King of France; this is where the pilgrims after confessed, received the Compostela; certificate of pilgrimage.

 
Tips

Pilgrims can go to kiss the holy mantle by a staircase behind the altar.
You can also visit the library which displays the censers and tapestries (it’s part of the cathedral museum), even as the pieces found in the excavations .
The archives of the cathedral has a copy of the Codex Calixtinus (set of texts dated around 1140); in the texts you can find practical advice for pilgrims.