Written by Bishop Roman Danylak
An account of events in May, 1999
For pictures, click here
I have put together an account of the activities, beginning with the arrival of the pilgrims from Toronto (May 1-14,99) and elsewhere. The pilgrims from Toronto spent ten days with me in Rome, visiting Christian Rome and then we travelled together for another four days in Garabandal, Spain.
The Rome part of the pilgrimage included not only the four major basilicas: St. Peter's, St. John Lateran (and the Scala Santa), St. Mary Major (with the nearby Church of St. Alphonsus and the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help), and finally the basilica of St. Paul outside the walls, The Vatican and the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, but also some of the major Christian centres of early antiquity. I am not even mentioning the touristy spots we visited, like Fontana di Trevi, the Pantheon and the Church of S. Maria Minerva and Piazza Navona.
Piazza Madonna dei Monti, the Ukrainian pensione where I live and where the group stayed, and the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, Roman officers martyred in Syria in the third century, is located in the very heart of the city, now called the historic centre.
It is to this centre that Saint Peter came in the year 42 A.D. It is here that he established the first Christian community. According to tradition he was the house guest of Senator Pudens - who with his four children became Christians - off and on for about seven years between 44 a.d. and 64 a.d. Saint Paul mentions Senator Pudens in his letter to Timothy. (2 Tim. 4, 21). This home was the first Christian church, the domus Ecclesia or titulus Pudentis. It was here that early Christians first assembled with Peter. And it was on the site of this home that the first Christian church was built. There is evidence that some form of church existed in the pontificate of Pope Saint Pius I in 145 a.d. The present Church of Saint Pudentiana, the daughter of senator Saint Pudens, was built between 384-7 a.d. by Pope Siricius, who mandated two or three of his priests to build this early Church. And that same structure stands to the present day. It houses the oldest and most beautiful mosaic of Christ with the apostles, and in the background the early city of Rome, dating from about 385 a.d.
Contiguous with the original church is a chapel erected about 1600 a.d. by the Caetani family, dedicated to Saint Pastor, the brother of Pope Saint Pius I. The earliest Christian documents of Rome speak of two churches or chapels, near each other, dedicated to Saint Pastor and Saint Pudentiana. The major painting in the apse is the glory of Saint Pudentiana. She is represented with her brothers, sons of Pudens, Ss. Timothy and Novato. Higher up the Esquiline hill, to the right of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major is a second church, dedicated to St. Praxedes, the sister of St. Pudentiana. Nearby on the Oppian hill is the ancient titulus or house church of Equitius of the 2nd cent. The present church from the 4th century, rebuilt several times, is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours and Pope Saint Silvester.
On the adjacent Caelian hill is Saint Clement's, Sts. John and Paul and so many others. We visited the catacombs of St. Callixtus, the Church of Tre Fontane, presently a Trappist abbey from the year 1000 a.d., with two chapels: the place of the beheading of Saint Paul; and the other chapel, the former prison and place of martyrdom of Sts. Zeno and the Christian soldiers with him. Across the way is the site of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother as the Virgin of the Revelation, to Bruno Cornacchiola. This apparition and site has been approved and a church, dedicated to our Lady of the Revelation in the Third Millennium will be built here.
Beatification of Blessed Padre Pio
On May 2, 1999 we attended the beatification of the Padre Pio, with front row seats in St. Peter's Square (see pictures). It was a marvellous celebration to the glory of God and the welfare of the Church. The years of suffering of this faithful servant, the cross of Jesus that Padre Pio carried, the rejection by so many, the lies that were spread about him. Jesus glorified him before the world and the Church. And now everybody is making money off him with souvenirs, expensive religious articles, etc.
I took the group around to all my favourite places in Rome. And then we took off to Garabandal through Madrid and Santander, Spain. Two weeks of prayer, pilgrimage. Daily we celebrated Mass in the parish church of Saint Sebastian. The group toured the village, visiting all the places Our Lady had led the four girls; and then up to the pines, where so much of Mary's message was delivered to the girls. It is here at the pines that the great sign, the great miracle promised by Our Lady will take place in confirmation to the Church and the world of the truth of the apparitions. And then the great sign, when the Spirit will convict the world of its sin, and the final chastisement and tribulation, before the glorious coming of Jesus, to the glory of the Immaculate Heart of His Blessed Mother and ours.
I have been asked by a variety of persons for my experiences of Garabandal this time round. I wish to express my conviction about the authenticity of the apparitions and the messages to the four girls, now mature women. The reason? I have read much of the materials that have been collected and published about the apparitions in Garabandal. I have come to the conclusion that the earlier decisions of the commissions, set up by the ordinaries of Santander, did not do justice to the truth about the apparitions. Secondly, the growing conviction among so many and the growing devotion to Our Lady of Garabandal is for me a sign of Her presence. And especially over the past two or three years, after my getting to know Michael and Helen Rozeluk, the circumstances of the miraculous healing of Michael, (see Mike's Story) and the experiences of so many other miraculous healings that have taken place as we have prayed together and given the medal of Our Lady of Garabandal to be venerated by those seeking her intercession, confirm my deepest convictions.
As I have come to study the messages, I felt called to return to Garabandal to continue my investigations of the messages and above all the prophecies that have been given to a variety of individuals. I did not experience unusual personal experiences; but as I observed the faith of the pilgrims, and continued to become more aware of the impact these were having on the lives of the people, I experienced through them the power of the intercession of the Blessed Mother. For those interested, I refer you to the website ourlady.ca on the internet for a series of testimonies that have been proffered by those experiencing the help of the Blessed Mother. This was why I returned as a pilgrim to Garabandal this May 13, 1999, on the anniversary of Fatima. So many are looking forward to the great warning, the Great Miracle at the pines, and the beginning of the chastisement. Though these are part of the message, Garabandal is about the compassion and ongoing love of the Blessed Mother for the welfare and salvation of her children on earth.
Yes, there were miraculous healings experienced by different members of our pilgrimage and inner experiences that many had in their devotions, their prayer at Mass in the Church of St. Sebastian, at the pines, and in their walk through the village. I did not go out to collect these testimonies to relate them to you. But they really did happen, as did the miracles during the beatification of Padre Pio in Rome on May 2. Perhaps the recipients may send their accounts to Our Lady's page on Internet (see Elisabeth's story, Mary Dierking's story and more will be added shortly).
We took a side trip to the Monastery of Saint Toribio to venerate the true cross of Jesus. In the sixth century a holy monk who had spent years in the Holy Land, returned to his native Spain and with the permission of Pope Saint Leo I, brought with him a large piece of the cross of Jesus, which is now exposed for the veneration of pilgrims. I blessed everyone with this relic, and then we all came to kiss and venerate it.
The group parted ways with me in Madrid at the airport, and I returned to Rome on Friday, May 14, 1999.
Today, as I continue working on this report, is Sunday, May 30, and I apologise in the delay in preparing this message for you. There would be too many explanations to add...as if someone were trying to mess up this testimony about Garabandal.
Yours in the Lord and His Blessed Mother
Editorial Note: This report was specially prepared by Bishop Roman Danylak for the group organized by "The Workers of Our Lady - Canada". On behalf of this group we sincerely thank him for all of his time, effort and love that he so willingly gave during the course of those two wonderful weeks. May Our Lady's mantle cover him continuously and the love of Our Lord shine on him forever. God Bless you, Bishop Roman.