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Lay Dominicans
Pilgrimage to visit sites significant to order’s history

Calaruega, Spain, birthplace of St. Dominic

A pilgrimage designed for lay Dominicans and friends of the Dominican order has been organized and set for Nov. 4-18, 2010. “A Pilgrimage in Honor of St. Dominic and Our Lady” includes visits to sites in Spain, France and Italy that are historically significant to the life of St. Dominic and the founding of the Order of Preachers.

The pilgrimage came about because several newly professed members of the Bishop Fenwick Pro-Chapter of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic (based at St. Gertrude Dominican parish in Cincinnati, Ohio) had a strong interest in “learning more about the actual places significant to the founding of the Order of Preachers,” said Gary Crouch, OP, one of the planners of the trip.

The planners did their homework, studying the life of St. Dominic in order to see if it would be feasible to visit the places associated with St. Dominic, including his birth and childhood, his founding of the Order in France, his accomplishments in Rome and his death and burial in Bologna. After a rough itinerary was drafted, Fr. George Schommer, OP, assistant pastor of St. Gertrude and friar promoter to the Fenwick Pro-Chapter, was approached to accompany the pilgrimage and serve as chaplain.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville graciously loaned the book that they produced when a large group of sisters from the Nashville community went on a pilgrimage following roughly the same route. “The sisters’ book, well researched by the sisters prior to their Jubilee Pilgrimage, affirmed what we had determined as the central places we wanted to see,” said Crouch.

The trip begins in Spain, visiting St. Dominic’s birthplace, Calaruega, and El Burgo de Osma, where St. Dominic served as a Canon of the Cathedral as a young priest. Because of the Dominican devotion to Mary, two major Marian shrines are included in the trip. The Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza, Spain is also included. Considered the first Marian shrine in the world, this is purported to be the site where Mary appeared to St. James during her lifetime to strengthen his mission on the Iberian peninsula. A nearby Zaragoza Shrine in honor of St. Mary Magdalen, a patroness of the order, will also be seen. A visit to Lourdes is planned.

After visiting two major Marian shrines, the group will journey to venerate the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas at the Church of the Jacobins and visit the house of Peter Sela in Toulouse, France; the castled city of Carcassone with visits to nearby Fanjeux and Prouille will be seen; Avignon; Florence to see the Dominican Church of San Marco with a focus on the works of Fra Angelica and Santa Maria Novella; Bologna to the Ark of St. Dominic; Siena to visit St. Catherine’s House and to venerate her relics at the nearby Dominican church; Rome to visit Santa Sabina, the Angelicum and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the Irish Dominican Church of San Clemente, as well as the Vatican.

Daily Masses will be offered, as well as opportunities for reflection and prayer at the many Dominican and Catholic sites that will be visited. “The pilgrimage is ambitious in that it covers three countries and considerable distances,” said Crouch. “However, for those interested in the life of St. Dominic, who have a devotion to Mary, and who want to venerate some of the great Dominican saints, the pilgrimage will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Lay Dominicans are especially welcome, but the trip is open to all who love St. Dominic, Our Lady, and who have an interest in and an appreciation of the Order of Preachers. Those who are interested in the pilgrimage are encouraged to make a commitment by April 30. For more information,visit www.petersway.com or contact Gary Crouch, OP, at grcrch@aol.com.