When in Rome!

Rome...ah! So many stories and sights and spiritual things I could tell you all about! Here is just a little highlight of some of the things I saw and experienced. The first day I walked into St. Peter's Square. It was probably one of my favorite and most meaningful moments since I've been in Europe. The columns on the side are supposed to symbolize mother church welcoming you home and into the church. We had a Latin Mass inside St. Peter's which is one of the most beautiful things to partake in. I was able to wake up each morning and pray around 8am in St.Peter's before all the tourists arrived. My favorite image to pray in front of is the Pieta- Mary holding the dead body of Jesus. We had a tour of St. Peter's by some Seminarians that graduated from Franciscan or just from the U.S. that are studying at the North American College in Rome. There is so much symbolism in that church. One of the most exciting moments as well was to see Pope Benedict XVI!! We said the Angeles with him on Sunday after mass! :) I felt right at home in the Vatican and the Pope spoke so lovingly in 7 different languages to all of us in the crowd! We were able to take a tour underneath the Vatican to see the original foundation of the basilica and all the tombs underneath the ground including the bones of St. Peter! It was incredible! We were able to see touristy things too like the Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, etc. We had exquisite Italian meals every night and gelato!! They know how to make pasta that is for sure! All in all, the highlight and most amazing moments were spent praying and just being at the Vatican!
The photos: Pope Benedict XVI, St. Peter's Basilica, and a group of us standing with the Basilica in the background!

Hike to the Waterfall!

We got back from Poland on Sunday and thankfully we had Monday off from classes. On this snowy Monday, I decided to go to the waterfall about and hour hike from the Kartause in Gaming! It was snowing so much and the waterfall was completely frozen! It was so beautiful! One funny story: everything was so frozen over, at the bottom of the water fall I thought it was solid and I fell it! It was so much fun! Luckily my feet didn't freeze from all the water that got in my shoes! We had so much fun laying in the snow and climbing everywhere! It was so beautiful! :)


About a month ago, all of us on the Gaming campus traveled to Poland. It was about a 12 hour drive. We visited Czechtohowa, Krakow, Wadowice. The first place was Czechtohowa. We had mass where Our Lady appeared and protected the people of Poland. Each morning at 6am they unveil her. I ran to the unveiling as soon as I got out of the bus and trumpets loudly played as they unveiled her! It was so beautiful! I also offered my prayers to her. In this chapel, the prayers are offered to Her by walking on your knees around the perimeter of the church. That was one of the most powerful things I did in Poland! Krakow was beautiful! We visited the church were John Paul II was Bishop and where he went to college. On a lighter note, Krakow has the best hot chocolate in the world! :) One of the most intense days was visited Aushwitz and Birkeneau. Not only was it just somber but the temperatures were extremely cold. It was colder than Austria. In Aushwitz we saw where St. Maximillian Kolbe was in the starvation cell and where John Paul II visited after his death. One of the most stark things at Aushwitz that I saw was the 2 tons of hair of all the women killed there. After Aushwitz, we had dinner at the house of Sisters that have a devotion to St. Maximillian Kolbe. We also visited the Shrine of the Divine Mercy which was incredible. One of St. Faustina's sister gave us a really beautiful talk about mercy and how Christ is crucified to one side of the cross and on the other side of the cross- that is where we are to be crucified with him. The last stop was Wadowice where John Paul II grew up. We went inside his house which is now a little museum and was able to see his crib, ski clothing, scapulars, Papal Clothing, grades, and all sorts of things. We prayed for awhile in his home parish where he recieved first communion, baptized, and was confirmed. One of my favorite parts of the Church was praying where he would always go to pray each time he came to the church and that was the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help! One fun thing I did was eat John Paul II's favorite dessert which are called Papa Cakes! They are so heavy and filling!! Poland was such a blessing and I learned so much! I have so many more details that I could share but hopefully I can in person! :) The pictures: Me in front of John Paul II's church and this is his church


Czech 'n out Prague!

Hey everyone! The first weekend of February I went to Prague, Czech Republic with 6 other girls! It was our first trip that we planned ourselves. We left Friday morning at 5:30am from Gaming to walk to the train station in Kienberg-Gaming. Our train left at 6:30am for Vienna. We had a stop in St.Polten which is in between Gaming and Vienna. Once we got to Vienna we had to take the West Banhof to the Sudbanhof. We finally bought our tickets for Prague and got on our train. It was about a 4 hour trian ride to the Czech Republic. We got into Prague at 3pm that day. The rest of the day we figured out where our hostel was and ate dinner. We just had Italian which the Czech's did an amazing job at! We rested up for our big Saturday! Saturday morning we woke up early to take the metro to the Old side of Prague. Prague is very beautiful but has so much graffiti. In Prague we saw the St. Charles Bridge and went up to the castle. The castle was so beautiful and was on a lot of land. It was not like a normal castle that you go into it was like a little town with shops and restaurants and a beautiful Gothic Church. The church was beautiful but had so MANY tourists inside. It made it a bit more difficult to pray and concentrate. Prague was a bit colder so we stopped for some hot chocolate at this cute cafe. Our next adventure and the entire reason we went to Prague was to see the Infant of Prague. The church was so simple and humble. As we walked in, it was decked in gold. The Infant was off to the side and was so beautiful. He was wearing white! I knelt to pray for awhile, especially for mercy, and especially for Jake and his household which have a devotion to the Infant Child of Prague. We were able to see clothes that people had made that were dedicated to the Infant. I learned so much while I was there and was able to pray for a good bit. A priest from the Czech Republic said mass in English for us and talked to us about the Infant. He was so joyful to be with us and to teach us about the Infant and what a blessing it is to have such a shrine in Prague. After mass with this priest we prayed a bit more and had the most amazing, authentic Czech meal. All of us girls went to this little place that was so quiet and lit with candles. We all tried each others meals and went all the way. I got these Czech dumplings with saurkraut and meat inside with a glass of white wine and pineapple with chocolate for dessert! It was such a good meal!! The trip was so wonderful and we learned a lot about traveling on our own, relying on the Lord, and seeking Him in all that we do throughout the day.


Salzburg and Munich!

Hey everyone! I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Salzburg, Austria and Munich, Germany! We left Friday morning for Salzburg and spent the day touring and visiting some of the Sound of Music sites which was really exciting! All of us watched the movie the night before we left! It was like a huge family of a 160 in our common area! Salzburg was pretty rainy that day! We definitely had wonderful food: a four course meal at the Sternbrau. They served us red wine, a brothy type of soup, turkey, and a delicious Austrian cake! I enjoyed Salzburg but I enjoyed Munich even more. We left Saturday morning for Munich which was a 2 hour drive from Salzburg. We had a beautiful Mass at this Church where Pope Benedict XV was ordained a cardinal! You could just feel the holiness and annointing in the church. So many tourists stood in the church and watched us celebrate the Mass! After Mass, my friends and I headed out on a quest to find authentic birkenstocks! That was our first quest! I bought them for 35 euro which is pretty cheap! On the way to finding birkenstocks, we found this beautiful Marian church! It was connected to all the shops. I went in and prayed for a little bit and walked around trying to take pictures until an older German woman was thoroughly upset and kept tabs on me the rest of the time I walked around while she prayed the rosary! After praying in the Church we had authentic GERMAN BRAUTWERTS! They were so delicious and on the most delicious bread! Our next mission was to find the subway. We all decided that we wanted to visit the concentration camps in Dachau. We believe that our patron saint from our household died there. So we found the subway and took that to Dachau and then a bus to the concentration camp. Once we stepped off the bus, I could just feel the loneliness and emptiness in my heart of the camp. I cannot describe in words the feelings that came when I was there. It was no longer facts from a textbook to me but reality. I walked through the bunkers and a museum. I was unable to see the gas chambers because the camp was so big and so much to see that we had to catch our bus and subway back to Munich. We did get to visit the Carmelite Monastery at the Camp and pray in the chapel for a quick minute. Each church that I enter in, I say a Memorare for my sisters in household and loved ones! I am praying for all of you! My next adventure will be to the Czech Republic the first weekend in February!

p.s.- This church is the church that they were married in in the Sound of Music! It is in Mondsee!


Finally Here!

Gross-Got! As the Austrians say! I am finally in Austria and have been here for 10 days! The flight was about 8-ish hours and went by really fast! It was so exciting finally getting off the plane and landing in Europe! Unfortunately, Austrian Air lost my bags and they were still in the U.S.! No worries though! I got them about 2 days later and luckily I brought a few extra clothes in my carry on! So I landed in Vienna and then it was a 2 hour bus ride to Gaming! Gaming is absolutely gorgeous and quaint. We are surrounded by the Alps with lots of snow! :) Our first day went well! We just got settled and had talks and a social! Our second day here, we went to Admont, Austria. Admont is about 2 hours away as well! It was beautiful. It is a monastery that we visited and had mass at! We toured the largest library in Austria which interestingly enough is the 8th wonder of the world! I wasn't able to take any pictures but I have a brochure! We ate at this small little Austrian restaurant. It was a delicious 4 course meal: cream soup, turkey with asparagus, salad (german potato salad), and an austrian cake. We all had white wine of course! :) The church was beautiful! There was a beautiful picture of St. Margaret Mary holding the Sacred Heart! At least that is what I thought it was! It was so high up! My classes started on Thursday! I'm taking Christian Marriage, Theology of the Church, Ethics, Principles of Biblical Studies 2, and Art Appreciation! I love Theology of the Church! My professor is Scottish and he is such a holy man. Him and his wife just had twins a few days ago so it was pretty exciting here at the Kartause! All my classes are so interesting and I'm learning so much just intellectually, culturally, and spiritually. Last weekend we spent the day in Vienna! We had mass and toured the city. I saw such beautiful things. I saw the Hapsburgs summer home, a place where both Hitler and John Paul II spoke, churches, and just tons and tons of history. Vienna is gorgeous! My favorite part of Vienna was St.Stephen's! The church has been my favorite and most special church to me so far. I was able to walk around and take a few pictures and then I prayed for a little bit. I prayed in front of a portrait of Our Lady that cried tears. There is a replica in Hungary. It was so beautiful! There were so many candles lit for her. I said a Memorare for all the people I love and for all my friends and sisters back home! I'm just soaking in all the beauty here! Oh yes and we went to a really cute cafe where they served my hot chocolate on a silver platter! Some friends and I visited the National Treasurey Museum where we saw the veil that Veronica wiped Jesus' face with! God is so good and I'm so thankful for all of these experiences! He is challenging me in so many ways and teaching me so much! I started working for Sister Faustina and I love my job! I wash all the altar cloths and iron them and fold them! It is such a handmaid job! Franciscan in Austria has so much to offer! The Franciscan T.O.R. sisters here are offering a Bible Study for Women on Wednesday nights for women at there home! Tonight was the first night and it has been wonderful! I'm going to also start having some spiritual direction with Sister Jean-Marie! The sisters are here to support us and encourage us! Keep praying for me and all the students as we travel and continue to grow!
P.S. the picture is of Me and my household sister Maria at Admont


Goodbye U.S. & Guten-Tag Osterreich!

For the last couple of days I have been busy packing, packing, packing! It is finally here! I leave for Austria today!! My flight leaves at 2:29pm from Columbia Metropolitan Airport and arrives at 3:51pm at Dulles International in Washington, D.C. I then connect to my international flight on Austrian Air at 6:05pm and arrive in Vienna at 9:00am on Monday! That means that it will be 3:00am here in eastern time in the U.S.! I've been pretty busy trying to pack warm clothes, shoes, medicines, tolietries, school supplies, etc. to last 4 months! Spiritually I've been praying for my family, friends back home and at Franciscan, for Jake, the Consecration to Our Lady "My Immaculate Heart will Triumph" and praying to be open to all that God has in store for me! Please continue to pray for me and all other students embarking on the pilgrimage- for our safe travels, our studies, and our openess to the Holy Spirit! May God Bless you! fiat.

Oh yes! When I get to Austria, I will try to put pictures up as soon as possible! I cannot wait to share them with you!! God Bless! :)