By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
On an ancient hill in Greece called the Areopagus, Bishop Martin Amos and some of his fellow pilgrims walked to the top where Saint Paul preached two millennia ago to the Athenians. Paul’s speech appears in Acts 17:19-34.
Getting to the top of hill proved challenging for the 73-year-old bishop, who joked that the climb was the “suffering” part of his pilgrimage. He wondered how he would make it back down — until he discovered there were stairs on the other side!
Historic and religious sites in Greece and Italy — including a rare look at the Shroud of Turin — provided indelible memories for participants on a pilgrimage Bishop Amos led last month with his friend Father Ted Marszal of the Cleveland, Ohio, Diocese. The 26 pilgrims ranged in age from 15 to 89 and were evenly representing the Davenport and Cleveland dioceses.
Their first stop and impetus for the pilgrimage was the Shroud of Turin, on display temporarily at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, about 430 miles north of Rome. “We were supposed to visit the Shroud at the end of the pilgrimage but because the Holy Father chose that date also, so we moved it to the beginning. We thought the crowds and security might ruin the religious experience,” Bishop Amos explained.
Some people revere the shroud as the burial cloth of Jesus. Others think it’s a fake. For Bishop Amos, seeing the shroud “was a powerful, spiritual moment.” So, too, for Father Tony Herold, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish-Davenport. “I believe this is the burial cloth used by Jesus, our Lord. To be so close to a relic of the passion and resurrection of our Savior is something I can’t put into words.”
Other memorable experiences for Fr. Herold: “I was able to preach near the tomb of Saint Anthony of Padua, my patron saint. I did a lot of reading about Saint Anthony and I felt very close to him on this trip. Greece was beautiful beyond words and to be able to celebrate Mass with folks and pray for people I love was inspiring. Father Marty (Goetz) and I were able to pray the Liturgy of the Hours together every day.” Fr. Herold said he returned home “with a deeper appreciation for my Catholic faith and a deeper love for Jesus.”
Fr. Goetz, pastor of Ss. John & Paul Parish-Burlington, also treasured the time in prayer with his good friend, Fr. Herold. “We prayed the Office of Readings, Morning and Evening Prayer, lifting up the parishioners and other needs that I was entrusted with,” Fr. Goetz said. He felt an overpowering sense of God’s love for him at the Shroud of Turin and at St. Anthony Basilica in Padua, Italy. So many memories remain. “To walk the wall of the city at Montenegro and get halfway up – 650 steps – and rest in a small church was great,” Fr. Goetz continued. “To see where St. Paul preached in Athens and to stand in the spot as pastor of Ss. John & Paul really touched me. I’ll think of that every time I preach at St. Paul Church in Burlington.”
Grad student Katherine Temple said she got to make the pilgrimage by default. Her father, Paul, was supposed to go with her mother, Kay, but he couldn’t get away from work. The family belongs to Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish-Muscatine. “To actually walk where Jesus, the apostles and countless others have walked was a pretty incredible experience,” Katherine said. The Shroud of Turin inspired her. “I think sometimes as humans we can’t quite grasp the enormity of what Jesus did for us, but being able to see that tangible object in front of our eyes helps make things real.” What made the pilgrimage special was “being able to see these incredible places with some incredible people. Some people may be wary of traveling with four priests and a bishop but I will fondly remember the quality conversation, experiences and laughter we shared.”
The pilgrimage helped refresh her spirituality. “It allowed me time to take a step back and thank God for all that he has provided me, learn more about my faith, and take time to pray. But I would say even more importantly it reminded me why I continue in my Catholic faith.”
For Lu Ann Farrell of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish-Clinton, “having the opportunity to say the rosary together and sing our church music as we traveled the beautiful countryside of Italy and Greece was extremely spiritual. You could feel God’s presence.” Seeing the holy Shroud of Turin and “staring at the face of the man crucified was so moving and brought tears to my eyes,” she added. “I don’t think I have ever prayed so compassionately as I did at that moment. I had so much I wanted to say God.” A close second in memorable moments was the Mass at Padua, where Fr. Herold preached. “Father was pastor at Prince of Peace Parish and I had gotten to know him there. Each Mass was special, but to have a priest with “Anthony” as his name and saying Mass at St. Anthony’s in Padua was overwhelming.”
Father Tom Stratman, a retired priest of the Davenport Diocese, described the pilgrimage as exhausting, but definitely worth it. “I stood at the spot where St. Paul the Apostle in the 17th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles delivered his famous speech to the Athenians. At that time, the place was filled with people and they could speak their peace. Here’s Saint Paul coming along. He says, ‘You folks have an altar to an unknown god.’ Then he says, ‘what you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you to be the one true God, the God who made the world and all that’s in it.”
Other highlights for Fr. Stratman were the Shroud of Turin and visiting the tomb of St. Ambrose of Milan. A doctor of the church, St. Ambrose is shown in funeral pose in a glass enclosure. “His skeleton is visible and he’s vested in episcopal vestments with his miter, Fr. Stratman said. “It was not morbid.”
Deacon David Montgomery, Chancellor of the Davenport Diocese, said it’s difficult to define one memorable moment on the pilgrimage. “Certainly viewing the shroud was very moving. Celebrating Mass with the bishop throughout the pilgrimage was important.” The pilgrimage gave the deacon “a better understanding of the spirituality of different cultures, and recognizing that their spirituality is very similar to ours.”
Marcia Moore of St. Alphonsus Parish-Davenport said she loved the time spent in Padua, particularly during the Mass in the oldest church in the city. “St. Anthony is one of my favorite saints. The day was special for that reason and in several other ways. Fr. Anthony ‘Tony’ Herold gave the homily that day, which was special for him. I had lunch at a near-by sidewalk café with our two retired priests, Fr. Tom Stratman and Fr. Bill Meyer. What a blessed day!
“A pilgrimage reminds me that I belong to a church with a history like none other, whose roots reach to Jesus himself. The thing I appreciated the most was getting to know and being with like-minded Catholic laity, wonderful priests and my bishop. As with any pilgrimage, graces continue to unfold with time and I look forward to discovering new ones each day.”