A pilgrimage of unexpected proportions

Well that was quite a week. Here we are in Rome, and at last with some internet that allows for more than a cursory Facebook post or text message. I want to give a bit of a play by play on where we’ve been so far and the amazing things we’ve seen, but first I need to be totally honest with you guys and also a little bit vulnerable, so here goes. Would you pray for me? I’ve been struggling with profound anxiety pretty much since we touched down in Italy, which I first chalked up to Luke being just a little harder on the flight than we’d expected (ha. just a little.) and then to jet lag, but at this point it’s safe to say it’s not you, Italia, it’s me. I’m not really sleeping much at night and I’m definitely not soaking up la dolce vita, which I realize makes me a complete moron, but I can’t seem to shake the deep, deep funk of missing my big kids. I literally can’t sleep for missing them, and I feel sick about having still another 5 days till we see them again. So I guess the moral of this story is the grass really is never greener, and I will never, ever take for granted a long, frustrating afternoon with my little charges, because while I’m sitting in what is arguably the most beautiful city in the world with my sweet fat baby and my wonderful husband, all I want is to jump a plane home to the rest of our crew and go to the super lame park across the street from our house and play with them.

So anyway, just had to cop to that startling realization that I actually really, really don’t want to be anywhere else than home, with my kids, being their mama for now. And if the Lord had to bring me halfway around the world to drive that point home, and if that is in fact the entire point of this trip for me, then so be it. I will go home content and with unbelievable eagerness to return to the incomparably beautiful status quo.

Let’s back up a bit though, because thanks to the miracle of the disappearing internet connection, I’ve had nada to blogga.

We’ll start at the beginning. Day 1 we touched down in Rome late Saturday morning, waited around for our lost then found luggage (hello, Italy, you haven’t changed all that much) and hopped onto our bus to Napoli. We were a little stunned after 13 hours in the air, no sleep, and a bit of a wait for those bags, but none of us more so than Luke who then resigned himself less than gracefully to another 2.5 hours confined to a moving vehicle. Everyone in our group was positive, by the time Mt. Vesuvius came into view on the horizon, that it was not the ancient volcano that was in danger of erupting, but the angry baby on my lap.

We had a quick tour of the church of Gesu Nuova in Napoli and there we prayed before the tomb of St. Joseph Moscato for all the intentions we’d be entrusted with, along with some special prayers for the doctors and medical professionals we love. After lunch in Naples we drove the short distance to Pompeii and embarked on a 2 hour walking tour of the excavations. It was absolutely stunning. And I was more tired than I’ve ever been in my life, possibly including childbirth. Carrying Luke’s stupid umbrella stroller over 2000 year old marble roads and exposed chariot grooves was an act of olympic effort, and it was only the sight of the 92-year old woman in our group nimbly scaling the elevations and striding briskly through the temples and piazzas that kept me from face planting somewhere. She continues to put the ablest-bodied pilgrims among us to shame.

After Pompeii (this is still all one day) we visited Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, where we had Mass in English and heard a little about Bl. Bartolo Longo, which I am ashamed to admit I remember exactly nothing about. Luke had transformed into a vampire bat at this point and I was doing circles in the hallways and around the church, weaving through crowds of nuns and stray cats and starting to question the meaning of life itself. We got back on the bus after mass and headed to another town that had something to do with a castle and Maria and the ocean, and then we finally crashed. Luke slept about 3 hours and then cordially invited us to stroll the town center with him from 1-3 am, which we agreed to under some auditory duress. It was definitely a good immersion experience, and it true Italian fashion, the streets were so thronged with party goers and gelato and panino consumers that we thought it had to have been a major local holiday.

Nope, just Saturday night in Italia.

Luke eventually found his chill, and we eventually slept another 3 hours until wakeup call. Which is where I will leave you, because I am being summoned to dinner by a handsome little pterodactyl who is ready for his pasta ration. I’ll try to add some pictures when the internet is less sleepy, but you can also follow me on Instagram.

Tomorrow we’ll visit Pietralcina, Piano Romana, and San Giovanni Rotundo. Ciao for now.


  • Anne Zakas

    Good thing it’s Padre Pio’s feast tomorrow! You’ll be able to “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry!” about your little ones at home. God loves them perfectly…

    P.S. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of normal Catholic life 😉

  • Mary

    Ugh! Feel ya! Just did 14 days with my 4 under 6 on an epic 18hr car trip to the east coast… (Why, I’m still asking myself). We visited families, churches, holy sites, and more friends. However, it wasn’t the long drive that was hard on the baby. It was the constant uprooting and going to a new place to sleep that was mega hard on my 1 and 3yo. Holy cats. It wouldn’t be so hard if we’d stayed in the same place for more than 2-3 nights. We just needed to settle in to have any sleep/peace.

    Prayers for the rest of your journey. Half of what you’re experiencing is mom-hormones, too… Your kids will recover faster than you will! Promise!

  • Lucy Robinson

    You just nail it. Every. Time.
    Exactly the healthy emotional reaction everyone except 2% of the population who can afford nannies and first class air travel live with every day.
    Prayers for you to survive.
    Just think Dorothy – “There’s no place like home “!

  • jeanette

    The start of your pilgrimage trip reminds me of mine: up all night packing for a 2 week trip, 3 hours sleep, flight from sfo to jfk to zurich to rome all in one day no sleep on the plane hop on the bus with 50 pilgrims to start touring Italy in Ostia Antica…crazy, I don’t travel that way! It was very hot and I was tired and dehydrated and just wanted to go rest somewhere (because sitting on an airplane or in an airport or on a tour bus just doesn’t replenish one’s energy). Every day was the same lack of sleep story so our group could pack in every place on the itinerary. It started to became more of a sight-seeing tour than a spiritual pilgrimage because of the busy itinerary, and one day I complained quite openly to the tour guide that we were being rushed through some very holy places and not given time for prayer. She seemed a bit shocked initially, but took me seriously. Our visit to Pietrelcina was quite a long drive, but I very much appreciated some time to pray in the beautiful church of Santa Maria della Grazie. My husband, not Catholic, chose to go investigate the outdoor stations of the cross during part of our tour there while the rest of us were at mass. Certainly a lot to see there. I hope you find some moments of peaceful prayer and time for reflection on the grace God has given you to appreciate how much you love motherhood. God wants us to always keep our hearts open to receiving graces we don’t necessarily expect to receive. Praying for you!

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