Countries, Culture, Europe

Srebrenica, lest we forget

It is just 25 years ago since Europe was plunged into a genocide we again ignored.

And just like the Holocaust of the Jews and Gypsies and homosexuals in the Forties the civilised West did not think the Balkans Muslims were worth protecting.

Camp of hell

Until too late.

I am indebted to my good friend Onur Gul, of Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com who has family links to Bosnia-Herzegovina, for flagging up today.

Poignant: Onur and his daughter

As he visited the graveyards in Srebrenica https://www.srebrenica.org.uk/.

Where the massacre of an entire town took place while we turned a blind eye.

I will be back

I had hoped to visit Srebrenica this year after missing out in the Autumn when I went to the Balkans.

With Marian Pilgrimages www.marian.ie to Medjugorje.

Arnie’s story

And discovered that it was too far from Sarajevo and I didn’t have enough time.

But while they may have been out of sight they were not out of mind.

Bey Mosque, Sarajevo

Sarajevo which was itself under siege marks its own and the greater Balkans wars.

It’s there in black and white at the Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide http://visitsarajevo.ba/?lang=en.

And you will get a sense of how the horrors of the war were played out as you take in the audio, video and everyday artefacts and personal testaments.

History revisited

One of the most heartwarming of them all is Arnie’s story. Yes, that Arnie.

For more visit Bosnia-Herzegovina https://www.visit-bosnia.ba/.

And while you search for holiday providers, let me recommend Marian Pilgrimages’ sister company Croatia Tours www.croatia.ie who operate in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

And here are some recollections of my Balkans odyssey… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/24/sarajevo-revisited/ and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

The end of different loo signs?

Life after COVID-19 and the queues for the unisex toilets are snaking down the corridor.

And those men’s and women’s toilet signs will get eased out to be replaced with such as this…

Social distancing?

Although I’ve never seen a desperate woman hold herself like this.

So with the British Toilet Association saying rest rooms will soon become rush rooms…

Here’s a nostalgic look back at funky loo signs around the world.

It’s all Greek to me

Athens, Greece: And you can see that these signs are modelled on Socrates and Mrs Socrates although they both need a good feed.

Visit https://athensattica.com and My Greek odyssey.

Two loos from Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the Netherlands: And in the converted mosque restaurant that is Bazar https://www.hotelbazar.nl/en/restaurant-bazar-amsterdam/ in the great Dutch city the theme is Arabic.

See www.iamsterdam.com and Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Washed out in Austria

Ehrwald, Tyrol: And the backdrop naturally is the snow.

They love a loo in Austria so much so that a new revolving loo is an occasion… and I’m not making this up.

See www.topflight.ie, www.topflightforschools.ie, https://www.tyrol.com/places/a-ehrwald.

Split toilets

Croatia: And forget the manspreading, they womanspread in Split (well, that figures).

They’d be a bit more demure in holy Medjugorje.

Visit Croatia Tours http://www.croatia.ie, Marian Pilgrimages www.marian.ie and http://www.medjugorje.org.uk.

Too much to drink?

Prague: And a shining example of Prague design which is eclectic between Baroque to grim Communist to modernist David Cerny.

Visit www.czechtourism.com and Hope springs eternal and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/02/21/bye-bye-baby-cernys-prague/amp/.

T&T pee and pee

And you’re asking your Tobagonian lady to stand still.

This woman on the sign is either coming from Sunday School (that’s a dance).

See https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Auf Wiedersehen pet!

Munich: And then there’s the one-legged woman. You must be really desperate.

Visit https://www.munich.travel/en?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIssyFkd3Y6QIVxbHtCh1qJAgJEAAYASAAEgKdfvD_BwE.

What’s your favourite loo sign from around the world? Tell me and I’ll share.

And one to ponder on in the queue, a sign on a wall in a bar in the IFC, Ireland’s Financial Centre…

‘Men left, women always right.’

MEET YOU IN THE QUEUE

Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Give us this Day – charity begins abroad

The collection plate has for a long time been coming around twice.

While there’s always someone at the church door with another charity box.

You might recognise them from coming around your house.

We have, of course, been given a reprieve during lockdown.

Give a little bit

Doctor’s orders… my Dear Old Dad

Of course charities are having it tough right now with many of us left cash-strapped by the Covid crisis.

But while there’s less to go around just now we’ve been here before and found an enduring solution.

Tithes, integral in Islam, used to be a central plank in Christianity.

But they’ve not gone way.

Going through my Dad’s personal effects I came across documentation from his contributions to the Church.

A percentage of his income.

Middle Eastern culture

A design for life: In Jordan

One of the joys of visiting the Middle East is immersing yourself in Islamic culture.

And it is heartening to find holiday providers who feel the same.

Such as G Adventures https://www.gadventures.co.uk and http://gadventures.iewho through their Planeterra Foundation https://planeterra.org help build community projects in their destinations.

Which I found when I visited Jordan www.visitjordan.com.

We can often be suspicious when we hear of the biggest companies allying with charities.

And Celebrity Cruises https://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/?ecid=ps_accord_google_brnd_bndpurebrand%5Bexact%5D_gbr&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu5TajbvM6QIVYIBQBh1PvARHEAAYASAAEgKjY_D_BwE and Malala Yousafzai didn’t initially seem to be ideal bedfellows.

A very young Godmother

But the Nobel Prize winner has lent great credibility and authenticity as Celebrity’s Godmother I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here to their involvement in the destinations they visit.

Now I’m as guilty as the next man of glossing over Liam Neeson et al’s message to give on airlines… and then failing to fill those little envelopes.

But once I get back on a plane (and I mean that to be soon) I will ensure I empty my pockets into the envelope.

There are some out there who need no pricking of their conscience.

The Scots who give 

And a square meal for all around the world

Such as Scots Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane who were so moved by an article in The Glasgow Herald on the Marian apparitions in a small Bosnian town that they went out there.

And then began a charity drive through the Balkans Wars which grew into the phenomenon that is Mary’s Meals https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/who-we-are/our-history/marys-meals-a-fruit-of-medjugorje/

Which helps give a square meal to those in less developed countries to provide a springboard and which you can see out in Medjugorje.

Where I visited with Marian Pilgrimages https://marian.ie and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

And Sarajevo’s rebuild

Christians and Muslims: In Sarajevo

You can also take a day out to Sarajevo where Muslim and Christian have come together over time.

But where still the human instinct to give through charity has helped rebuild the central city of Sarajevo  Sarajevo revisited: Arnie’s story.

Adventure, Countries, Deals, Europe, Pilgrimage

What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know?

It’s 5.40pm in mid-October in Medjugorje and everyone and everything stops… for Our Lady, although check your times as I’m told it’s 6.40pm in the summer.

The fast-praying, gesticulating Italian priest (I’ll call him Fr Luigi) in his open-necked dog collar… it’s a balmy late afternoon.

Fr Leon, the wise-cracking, whip-cracking Chaplain to the English-speaking Community.

And the Irish Franciscan brother and pastor to the young, Brother Columba.

Who thankfully isn’t standing too close to the candles – he admits that he once burnt his navel-length beard at a procession.

Hurling posts anyone?

We are all marking the moment 38 years ago in 1981 when Our Lady appeared on a cloud to six children from the village.

Ivan Visionary

She can’t be much of a fan of teatime television then or maybe she had Neighbours on record.

It was certainly a half-time break back in 1981 in the big Yugoslavian basketball game which helped draw the two boys out.

Ivan Visionary (our guide Daniella’s nomenclature for him) will join us later in the week at the Blue Cross where Mary first appeared.

My way: And I’m saying me some rosaries

Although when I say join us, he is two rows of heads in front in a circle of worshippers.

I had hoped to see him in the ecstatic trance of those childhood photos on the boards in the grounds of St James’s Church.

Or heard some speaking in tongues. I know I’m unlikely to see Our Lady or hear her but Ivan Visionary has been on speaking terms with the Mother of God for 40 years.

Mary’s flower

I’ve every chance of seeing her though, or at least feel her presence, around Medjugorje which has expanded a millionfold since 1981.

Our Lady is everywhere

From that two-towered hurling posts-looking church, some tobacco fields and vines, to what it is today, a Marian resort dedicated to the worship of Her and Him.

And as with everywhere, Commercialism.

Our Lady is there in every shop on every corner, as are her beloved rosaries, 

Where you can get your own name engraved on them. 

Holy water bottle, anyone?

There are holy water bottles aplenty and any amount of religious paraphernalia including your own cassock.

Does it come in my size?

But Our Lady is also here in the minds, in the souls and the hearts of the pilgrims, of which I am one.

A mother and daughter in our 20-stong Marian Pilgrimages (http://www.marian.ie) group when we visit in October ask expectedly if I smelt the roses, Mary’s flower, as I make my way back from 10am Mass.

Try as I may, and maybe that’s where I’m going wrong, I can’t raise her.

But I do see Her in the eyes of eager Eddie who buries his head into his brother’s chest at the Blue Cross.

Bustling Medjugorje now

And who shoots a smile towards me from his wheelchair by Our Lady’s statue at the 5.40pm remembrance.

A cross to bear

A million flock to the Bosnia & Herzegovina village every year to feel the grace of Our Lady, to ask her to intercede on our behalfs to Our Lord.

And to climb up to the Blue Cross, Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain.

Many leave changed by their visit while many return year on year.

And there’s wine in them thar fields

Marie from our group is back for her 60th pilgrimage.

She is in with the bricks at Mileina, our boarding house for the week, where she embraces Ines’s daughter at the breakfast table, whom she has known since she was a baby.

Ines is the perfect mine host

Ines looks after us all like her very own babies with breakfasts to set us up in the morning, the best of which is the steaming porridge.

And for dinner where we settle down, after Grace Before Meals  obviously, for big plates of family food, hearty soups and meaty feasts, chicken, lamb chops, potatoes (we are Irish after all) and veg.

Wine is a religion

With jugs of her own house wine.

I swear that ‘permanent’ house guest Marie gets an extra portion!

Like Marie, Medjugorje drew Scottish pilgrims Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane-Barrow back time after time following that first visit.

Mary’s Meals

To set up a support system for the village during the Balkan Wars in the mid-Eighties.

And then a charity for disadvantaged people around the world, Mary’s Meals, which feeds 1,000,000 children around the world for a €15 donation which energises them to then go to school.

It feels infectious this Christianity in action.

A holy Mother

Mother Elvira runs a rehab centre, Comunita Cenacolo, near the village while there is also an orphanage nearby.

We hear the testimony of Italian Twentysomething Andre, a dyslexic who suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder as a child and felt swamped in a family where his two brothers were super-achievers.

Can you hear my confession?

And whose life spiralled out of control, landing him on the street, in trouble with the law and twice overdosing.

Before Mother Elvira rescued him and is now setting him and others like him back on the right path.

Andre is now looking after maintenance in the house and serving the greater community, all of it underpinned by Christian observance.

Which is also the watchword for Medjugorje as a whole where your whole day is framed by Christian worship.

The ISIS hostage

Mass in the morning followed by a talk in the hall (we heard the extraordinary story of a priest who was an ISIS captive).

A part of history: Franz Ferdinand and Sophia

Those walks in the hills with Stations of the Cross along the way, the 5.40pm pause, an International Mass and an Adoration of the Host.

Phew!

There are though respites from your religious observations around the village.

And a coach out of town to Sarajevo for just €16 return where you can visit the spot where Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and triggered the First World War.

Armie’s tale: He helped a Balkans survivor

And the Museum of Crimes against Humanity and Genocide which chronicles the 1,425-day Siege of Sarajevo in the 1980s.

Don’t miss Sarajevo

At the heart of this beautiful city on the River Miljacka in the apron of the Dinaric Alps is the Old Town, the centrepiece of which is the Bey Mosque.

Middle Eastern delights

Turkish shops, cafes and restaurants fan out, showpiecing authentic Bosnian food (I’d recommend the Bey’s chicken and vegetable soup, in the dainty adorned pots).

Bey’s Mosque: Everything’s looking up

Back in Medge, The Irish Centre serves up more familiar fare.

From home at under a tenner and Herzegovina beer (at just 5 B&H Marks or €2.50, they take both).

Oh, Brother!

And you’ll find an old new friend there, Columba, in with a fellow Fransiscan Brother to watch the Ireland v New Zealand rugby match with us.

As well as mending your soul he can fix the TV too when it freezes.

And a jaunt up to where they held the 1984 Winter Olympics

And it’s always good to have your own Franciscan monk on hand to say a prayer for Ireland to turn over ‘those New Zealanders’.

Our Lady is obviously busy though somewhere else with someone more deserving (really).

Up by the Blue Cross, Apparition Hill or Cross Mountain.

Asking us to pray more rosaries!

I’ll pray for you
Bey’s Mosque, Sarajevo

Do: The bus to Sarajevo costs €16 return (remember to bring your passport for money exchange).

Bey’s Mosque in the centre of Sarajevo and the Museum of Sarajevo for everything on the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

Seven-night trips including flights from Dublin to Dubrovnik cost from approx. €585pp, departing May 15. For packages see www.marian.ie and www.medjugorje.org.

As published in the Irish Sun in 2020.

Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day – the best bar nun

Pope John Paul II only blessed my Uncle Danny and Auntie Nora.

For rearing six children in south Co. Donegal, all of whom became monks or nuns.

Which, without any signposting, other than maybe me watching Call the Midlife…

I’ve decided to shine a light on our Brothers and Sisters.

I more than fulfilled my holy obligations last year with visits to the holy sites of Lourdes…

See The Lourdes prayer, https://en.lourdes-infotourisme.com and Medjugorje The faces of 2019 – Pilgrimages.

Penguins’ march

And I hope to see Oberammergau in action this year after sampling the preparations last year https://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/en/home.

I had always thought that there was a height requirement to be admitted into the Holy Orders… you needed to be under 5ft.

Slam dunk

Until I was told of a basketball-playing nun in Medjugorje https://www.medjugorje.org on my Marian Pilgrimages tour www.marian.ie.

and, no, she doesn’t run between the opposition’s legs.

Basketball, incidentally, plays a part in the Marian apparitions story…

Our Lady only interrupted the big game on TV that day with her message of world peace and rosaries.

I confess

Monks, of course are great fun too and I wish I’d appreciated the brown-robed, big-bearded ones who regularly came a-visiting.

Way of the world

So what if they’d never heard of Heavy Metal or Celtic and Rangers, they knew exactly what was going on in Africa and the Middle East.

And so to this little Italian Franciscan dude who would do hours and hours of confessionals in Balkan Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Or Sister Elvira whose hostel for drug dependents in the hills above the town.

It’s always good insurance to say a prayer with a monk or a nun.

An Our Father

And particularly when they are Maria dos Anjos, the niece of the Last Shepherd of Fatima.

And I’d love to share her secrets with you.

Only a bolt of lightning would strike me down.

See. www.visitportugal.com and Secret Portugal.

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Thirteen years an Irishman – Five holy holidays

Give us this day, your weekly Sunday sermon from your outgoing and going out Eucharistic Minister (no, really, I am).

And as part of my long farewell, though not quite the 40 days between Christ’s Resurrection and his Assumption.

I give you five holy holidays:

I’m James too

Saint James

Buen Camino, Camino passport stamps and the La Queimada (the Galicia Halloween festival complete with fiery alcohol cauldron.

Peregrinos, that’s pilgrims to you and me, blisters and blisteringly good pulpo (octopus) and Chianti.

And the red-cloaked clerics swinging the botafumiero, the ornate and heavy incense holder, at the Pilgrims’ Mass in St James’s Cathedral.

With www.caminoways.com and A pilgrim’s prayer.

Or Giacomo in Italian

Phew Italia

Stranded in a one-horse town at night and Rosso Rum has left la citta, a bus from nowhere, lost again ten minutes into my Via Francigena.

The 100km pilgrimage from Viterbo to Rome, via country paths with snarling dogs behind barbed wire fences.

The sight of the Tiber, getting your last stamp in St Peter’s Square. A day to walk round and round La Citta Eterna.

Visit www.francigenaways.com and Small roads lead to Rome.

The last secret of Fatima

I think she knows the words

A Cristiano Ronaldo beach towel on a stand among the Virgin Mary souvenirs outside the Little Shepherd’s home.

Praying with Maria dos Anjos, the niece of the last Little Shepherd in her porch.

An elderly woman crawling on her knees to the altar, and a drunken Scotsman crawling out of the bar after too much Madeira wine.

Visit www.visitportugal.com and Secret Portugal.

Lourdes have mercy

Bernie and me

Candles… in cartons for the night-time vigil, in the shops, giant ones at €60, and ones inscribed by everyone in the village in which they were carved.

The helpers wheeling the disabled, pilgrims quietly queuing in front of the baths.

St Bernadette hiding in the gardens around the model villages in Lourdes Castle and the interdit sign which a disobedient Scot will always ignore.

Visit https://en.lourdes-infotourisme.com and The Lourdes prayer.

The Medjugorje story

The Lady is waiting

A monk held captive by ISIS giving a talk to pilgrims.

A priest revealing how Our Lady revealed herself to him and listening to Ivan Visionary channeling the Virgin Mary at the Blue Cross.

Visiting Muslim Sarajevo, its beautiful Bey Mosque and its museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide https://sarajevo.travel/en/things-to-do/museum-of-crimes-against-humanity-and-genocide-1992-1995/923.

Visit https://marian.ie/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMInMu4zdWu5wIVWeDtCh19mA5OEAAYASAAEgIXzfD_BwE.

Tomorrow on my long goodbye, my favourite cities.

Uncategorized

My Sporting Weekend – US YouTube boxing

You Tube used to be a schoolboy insult that often preceded an invitation to fisticuffs.

And a ‘square go’ down by Blythswood Street in Glasgow.

Now it’s the domain for everything.

Including an invitation to, yes, fisticuffs with YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI fighting on paid television in Los Angeles tonight.

Of course, it has been derided by purists of the Sweet Science.

Who conveniently forget that the Greatest, Muhammad Ali was involved in a wrestling bout with Antonio Inoki.

In what has been seen as a precursor to Mixed Martial Arts. It finished a draw… surprise, surprise!

Oh, what a circus!

The fight will be a cruiserweight contest.

Which will take place over six rounds Downtown in the Los Angeles Staples Centre.

Downtown LA has been regenerated over recent years.

And it is well worth a visit not least because it is the home of the LA Lakers.

And a chance to people watch. As is West Hollywood and Hollywood of course as I did earlier this year…

When I dug up a legend and her final resting place… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/.

And had myself some sporting and Disney fan in Anaheim… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/

http://www.visitcalifornia.com

The puck stops here: With Wild Wing in Anaheim

While Las Vegas is seen as the boxing and MMA capital of the world.

And if The Noble Art is your thing hit the Strip for a big fight… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/vegas-strip-the-light-fantastic/.

Also visit https://www.lvcva.com.

Las Vegans are sports mad and their nascent Golden Knights are on the up.

They only got to the Stanley Cup ice hockey final last year.

I’m in the money: In Vegas

But I digress which is easy to do.

Because when you’re in California you think about maybe stretching it a bit and also taking in Vegas, and vice-versa.

Deal me in

Of course with American Holidays https://www.americanholidays.com/en-gb/easter-holiday-deals/?infinity=ict2~net~gaw~ar~394981718283~kw~american%20holidays~mt~e~cmp~WG%20-%20NI%20-%20TC%20-%20American%20Holidays%20Brand~ag~American%20Holiday&gclid=CjwKCAiA5JnuBRA-EiwA-0ggPXELrlIE1iI52DVIxkJSR8hdAMaPAqxlFRKVc2s6y2GS-8PCHV-ltBoCq8gQAvD_BwE you can.

I caught up with my American Holidays pals this week, a little later than I’d intended.

But that was because I was off praying in Medjugorje with Marian Pilgrimages… http://www.marian.ie https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/18/medgugorje-whats-your-story/.

Golden gate. Photo by Tae Fuller on Pexels.com

When AH were throwing a cocktails party and watching Thelma and Louise in Dublin.

Back to that Vegas and California break though.

American Holidays have San Fransisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

It includes return flights from Dublin to San Fransisco to Los Angeles to Las Vegas and return.

And three nights San Fran (Hotel Carlton or similar), three nights LA (Quality Inn Walk of Fame Hollywood or similar), four nights Las Vegas (Excalibur Hotel or similar).

From €1699pps/£1576. Travel May.

Everyone has their own Scary One. Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

I’ll return to my favourite foreign country, and American Holidays soon.

And just for you I’ll keep my eyes on the American sport, better still from the bleachers or a ringside seat.

MEET YOU AT THE STADIUM

Uncategorized

Hungry and Thursday – the worst bar none

Chocolate is better than men because… we’ve all seen those posters and mugs.

But sometimes it goes wrong.

Such as with the branding you sometimes get with sweets and chocolate.

My trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina with Marian Pilgrimages http://www.marian.ie gave so much, an audience with Our Lady in Medjugorje, a history lesson in Sarajevo.

And an insight into the peoples of this region, the crossroads of East and West in the Balkans.

In Medge they are Croatians with the only thing vying for space with Our Lady in the shops Croatian flags and football tops. Medjugorje, what’s your story?

My old mucker from university, Davor, a Croatian-Scot was my first introduction to them.

But I have come to know them better through Croatia Tours http://www.croatia.ie on the River Liffey in Dublin…

And joining them before the World Cup final against France for wine and lunch (it was never a penalty!)

Thankfully there was none of the chocolate I found in a petrol station on the way to the airport in Split.

Name blame: Sweets in the Balkans

There’s just no amount of thumbs-up with Victorian dandy that makes this right.

I’m guessing they’re lozenges but I put them back on the shelf.

I can’t imagine for a minute that they meant any harm but…

Then there are those brand gaffes where there’s just been no quality control.

Not what you expect: ISIS chocolate

Such as this chocolate bar http://www.isischocolates.be in Brussels Airport on my way back from my tour of the World War I Battlefields… In Flanders fields.

With GTI The Group Travel Specialists www.gtitravel.ie.

Now the sentiment is right and before you think it’s cashing in on the War just remember that chocolate would have been a treat for the Tommies.

No, it’s just the acronym for the people who make it… ISIS!

It’s always an awkward one here, the quality control at TravelTravelTravel.

What to put in and what to leave out.

I think I’m on safe ground here though with this one which is a particular delicacy for Salzburgers.

And it was something that the indomitable Mrs M was particularly taken with…

Mozart’s Balls, or Mozartkugel http://www.mozartkugel.at on a Top Flight http://www.topflight.ie skiing trip to Austria… Soll Mates.

Send me the branding that goes wrong..

And in the Travel blog that brings you the best in toilet humour more to add to the annals of… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/01/austrian-toilet-humour/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/03/__trashed/. Look out for the name of the Bavarian tunnel I never saw coming… coming soon along the tracks.

It would make Our Lady blush!

Uncategorized

Give us this Day – Candles

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine,

Oh Let it shine,

Let it shine

Gosepl Spiritual

Yes, I’ve taken this little light around the world and am just back from Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Where I lit a candle for friends and family and the world.

With Myrlie Evers at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Candles flicker across all the religions of the world.

And none.

It is a mark of hope, of permanence and memorial.

The gospel spiritual ‘This little light of mine’ is on a spool in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Cleveland.

Where I met Civil Rights legend Myrlie Evers who opened the museum.

And amid the boards with their personal testimonies of struggles, loss and redemption the song is a stirring backdrop.

The ultimate sacrifice: At Great Uncle Willie’s gravestone

Here’s where it stands among my memories… The Promised Land. And http://www.mcrm.mdah.ms.gov

In another land, amid the mud and blood of Passchendaele in Flanders,

I lit a candle to my Irish Great Uncles who had fallen there.

It sits on my desk and every Memorial Sunday in November I light it and sit in silent memorial for a minute.

And I thank them for their sacrifice… In Flanders fields and http://www.gti-ireland.com and http://www.visitflanders.com.

Pilgrims: With Maria dos Anjos in Fatima

We stand too in reverence at the Marian sites of Fatima, Lourdes and Medjugorje.

Secret Portugal The Lourdes prayer. And these websites http://www.centerofportugal.com and http://www.en.lourdes-infotourisme.com and http://www.lourdes-france-org.

And watch out too for my review of my Medjugorje pilgrimage with Marian Pilgrimages www.marian.ie soon in the Irish Sun.

Light of the world: In Medjugorje

Candles, of course, are not just a Western, a Christian, a modern phenomenon.

Light of our lives

Light and fire are primal forces which link us to the Earth and to the heavens.

And are common to other cultures, religions and countries around the world.

And those who claim spirituality but no religion.

Waxing lyrical. In Lourdes

To finish, a light-hearted story from my time in Medge.

From the beautifully beardied Franciscan monk Fr Columba.

Who told of us a candlelight procession in New York when his beard which stretches down to his navel caught fire.

Fr Columba is fireproof though, and can fix TV freezes too… Medjugorje story – a sporting passion.

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS