For 15 days in June, the 100-plus Jesuit High School pilgrims canvassed Europe, from London to Lourdes to Prague to Austria, on an epic Marian Pilgrimage.
Led by Fr. Patrick Hough, S.J. and school president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J., the 86 Jesuit students plus 26 chaperones were guided by a spirit of transformation - and their 180-page Pilgrim Manual - during an extraordinary two weeks overseas.
"This pilgrimage truly changed my spiritual life," said Carlos Rueda '20.
Asked what he enjoyed most about the experience, William McGill '19 said "everything."
They departed Tampa on June 4 and reached London via Frankfurt the following day. They were divided into groups of 10 or 11 for the pilgrimage, each group with two or more chaperone leaders and named after historic Catholic figures such as St. John Paul II and St. Peter Faber, S.J.
Their four days in London were highlighted by Mass at the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception and at Tyburn; exploring the Tower of London where Jesuits were imprisoned during the 16th and 17th centuries; a walking tour of Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey; Mass at Corpus Christi Church; and seeing "Les Miserables" at the Queens Theatre. A few soccer fans on the pilgrimage, including Rueda, snuck in a visit to fabled Wembley Stadium. Click here for photos from London.
From London they traveled to the Catholic pilgrimage site at Lourdes in southwestern France, where they took part in the Blessed Sacrament Procession and Torchlight Marian Procession; celebrated Mass at the Grotto; visited the Baths; and took a trip into Spain to Loyola, the birthplace of the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius. Click here for photos from Lourdes/Loyola.
"The Baths at Lourdes, in particular, were something that impacted me deeply, even though the water was insanely cold," Rueda said.
The trip from Lourdes to Prague involved multiple flights from Toulouse through Brussels or Amsterdam before everyone reunited in Prague. During the two days in Prague they celebrated Mass at the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius and at Holy Savior, toured Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge, and visited the Jesuit Clementinum College. Click here for photos from Prague.
From Prague they traveled to the mountain town of Gaming, Austria, for a final few days in a beautiful region of the Alps, featuring hiking, Mass at the Shrine in Mariazell, and time for reflection. In their small groups they addressed dozens of questions such as "In what way does your faith in God affect your life?" and "What do I have to offer my friends and family after this pilgrimage that I did not have two weeks ago?" They also traveled to Vienna and celebrated Mass at the Jesuit Church. Click here for photos from Austria.
On June 18, the 112 pilgrims, transformed by their experience, departed Vienna Airport for Frankfurt and then back to Tampa. They were greeted by a throng of family and friends in an emotional reuniting at Tampa International Airport.
The four photo slideshows below represent a different part of the pilgrimage: London, Lourdes/Loyola, Prague, and Austria.