Our excellent driver Rosario relied on his GPS throughout our trip. Unfortunately, the route it gave him on this leg of the journey led us onto very narrow and steep roads that were not at all suited for a large bus. Oncoming cars had to back up quite a way to let us pass and we were barely avoiding the walls of houses and the protruding balconies.
The situation was stressful and it looked like we might even get stuck. At that point, I asked the group to pray and our priest, Father Gary, began to lead the rosary. Almost miraculously, with each prayer the streets began to widen! Eventually, we arrived at a much better road and were able to continue safely on to Pollone. The streets there are also narrow and impassable by bus, so our driver let us out in front of the entrance gates.
Pier Giorgio’s niece Wanda was there to greet us and get everyone situated in their rooms. It was a special gift of the Frassati family to allow us to stay at the villa. What a privilege to be in the house where Pier Giorgio and his family spent so much time. We walked through his beloved flower gardens behind the house and then went for a little walk through Pollone.
Our first stop was the cemetery and the original tomb of Pier Giorgio. Pope John Paul II visited this spot in 1989, prior to the beatification of Pier Giorgio. He prayed in the crypt for 20 minutes, along with Pier Giorgio’s sister Luciana. In 1990, after the beatification, Pier Giorgio's body was moved to the cathedral in
After a good lunch at the local restaurant, we walked toward the
Back at the villa, Wanda showed us all the newspaper from the nearest town. It had a nice article about our arrival and our pilgrimage itinerary. Quite surreal! Shortly afterward, we had one of the most beautiful Masses of our trip – in the room where Pier Giorgio died. Another of Pier Giorgio’s nieces (Nella) was present and Father gave a nice reflection on the Beatitudes.
Following Mass, we had our first home-cooked meal in days! It was delicious and a lot of fun spending time with Nella at our table. After dinner, we sat outside under one of the huge trees on the grounds. It was really a special time for our group and, again, I could sense Pier Giorgio’s joy at that moment. Here we were, a group of strangers united only by our common love for him, enjoying a wonderful day of faith and fellowship with members of his own family. I don’t know how much more special a day could be. However, we will try to surpass it on our last day of the trip in the only way possible -- an ambitious climb to the top of