Marian Pilgrimage, Part One

This journey began with a great desire in my heart to visit Garabandal, Spain

How It Began

I must first introduce our wonderful friends who faithfully took this journey with Mike and me. We have known Florencio and Sylvia for over 30 years.  Our paths crossed through a business venture, and  we have remained  friends ever since. In the late eighties they moved all six of their children to California to expand their European business. Our company distributed their product.  When they visited family in California, we would often go to dinners with them.

Florencio, Sylvia, me, Mike, Alvero, and Ernesto

Our friendship is rooted in our love for Christ and our conversations always remained with our minds focused on how much our faith has helped us through life. We recently rekindled our friendship when we visited Spain in 2019 with our friends Larry and Helen. Both Florencio and Sylvia picked us up from our hotel and took us to a wonderful dinner in Madrid. They wanted us to savor the great tastes of Madrid.

Through the conversations, Sylvia shared that one of her daughters was suffering with cancer. Since we were en route to Lourdes, France, I promised to bring her blessed water. We had to return through Madrid to fly home. Again, Florencio and Sylvia were so gracious to meet us for a brunch in Madrid and grateful for the holy water from Lourdes.


Both Sylvia and I continued to communicate via WhatsApp. Turns out that we have a lot in common; she, like myself, is very conservative and attends daily Mass. We are prayer warriors for our friends and family. I shared with her how I wanted to visit Garabandal, where the Blessed Mother appeared to four girls. Sylvia mentioned that her nephew has visited Garabandal and had a wonderful spiritual experience. Our conversation became more vivid and now Fatima, Portugal, was part of the plan.


Reina Sofia Museum Picasso

Getting Mike On Board

While Sylvia was working on planning the trip, I still had to convince Mike. I knew better than to use the word “pilgrimage”, so I started with the fact that these were places that he had never visited. My husband is connected with God and prays daily, but this was going to be a big Marian Journey. It took a while before he finally purchased the tickets, but there was no turning back!

The Planning

Our part was easy but for Sylvia it was a different story. She had to arrange for hotels in all the cities and little villages. She wanted us to experience the food like the locals. This was painstaking because we also had to consider the siestas that are taken during the day. Every restaurant shuts down at four and does not reopen until eight. How she managed to accomplish this was with the hand of God, because on several occasions we made it to the  restaurants a few minutes before closing and experienced a wonderful meal!

The Vehicle

Florencio and Sylvia own a nice sized van, but right before the trip she took it in for service. The vehicle was not ready on time, so they had to rent a Peugeot. I, like the rest of all of my travel adventures, sat in the middle. We became family in this white wagon Peugeot; we talked for hours and shared family stories while making our own.

Ernesto, Mike, me, Sylvia and Florencio




Ernesto,  Florencio and Sylvia’s nephew, was our wonderful chauffeur the entire trip. He took time off from work to drive us over 2,500 miles. He is the son of one of Florencio’s seven sisters (he also has a younger brother). This clan is huge and close-knit; Ernesto has four brothers and one sister. He, too, attends daily Mass in Madrid. Ernesto had only been to Garabandal, so this adventure was equally exciting for him as well.

Day One

Mike and I had one full day in Madrid before meeting our friends in Santander. It was a whirlwind adventure, but we made it to Museo Nacional del Prado and Arte de Reinas Sofia to see the gallery Picasso. We ate at a local cafe and were first introduced to croquettas.  This would be part of our daily meal throughout the trip. These delicious appetizers are made of potatoes, cheese, ham and vegetables rolled in corn meal and fried.

Day Two


On this part of the journey we met Alvaro, Florencio and Sylvia’s son who traveled with us on this day. Alvaro is a charming, precious young man who also attends daily Mass. Though he does not think so, he speaks perfect English. He attended Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach when his family lived in California for six years. Alvaro added so much to our conversations and graciously answered all the bombardment of questions I had for him. I thanked him for carefully watching over me as I made my rosary purchases, making sure all was correct. Alvaro was visiting with his parents in Santander and had a busy schedule, so he was only with us that one memorable day.

Ampuero, Spain
Ampuero, Spain   Alvaro, Ernesto, Florencio, me and Mike


Ampuero, Spain, is where Our Blessed Mother appeared on a stone September 15, 1605. The apparition stone is located on the side of the small church. We all took our time and prayed for our loved ones and friends. Personally, this was truly a holy experience; when I placed my head into the opening of the stone I  felt the power of God so strong! We all shared the same sacred experience with the presence of God through Mary. This was a new  level of worship for me that set the tone for the rest of the trip.


Saint Peter the Apostle Church, Limpias, Spain “Christ of the Agony”


At one time this small village of just over 1,200 people was as famous as Lourdes, France. At the 16th century parish church of Saint Peter the Apostle  in Limpias many miracles are attributed to the life-sized figure of Jesus on the Cross, who is depicted as Christ of the Agony. Before this crucifix was moved to Limpias, it  saved the village of Cadiz, Spain from a massive flood. From 1919 through 1924 many villagers  from Limpias witnessed the eyes of Christ opening and closing. Thousands of miracles have been attributed to Christ of the Agony in Limpias. We prayed for so many at this holy site.

Saint Peter the Apostle Church, Limpias


Never Doubt

The miracles of Limpias are well documented. In August of 1914, Father Antonio Lopez was installing electrical wiring to illuminate the beautiful crucifix “Christ of the Agony” when he noticed that the eyes on Jesus were closed. He was on a ladder, eye level to the crucifix, as he leaned closer to examine he made this great discovery. The eyes “Christ of the Agony” are always opened. Many of the villagers had similar experiences.

On Palm Sunday, April 13, 1919, two prominent men from Limpias attended the service but they considered these manifestations as hallucination and hysteria. As they approached the altar they were able to see the eyes and mouth move. They fell to their knees asking forgiveness and imploring mercy from God.

The “concha” on the way to Santiago de Compostela

Limpias is also where we encountered our first  “concha”; this shell on the way to the journey of Santiago de Compostela is located directly in front of Saint Peter the Apostle of Limpias. This is one of the many places you can get your stamp for  “The Way of St. James ” or as it’s referred here  “El Camino”.

My Prayer

Lord,  thank You for blessing us with good health, allowing us to make this journey. I am completely humbled to be able to venerate and to walk in the same steps where so many miracles took place. Amen.

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