Welcome To Heaven-Bound Pilgrim!

When someone thinks about taking a pilgrimage he or she usually assumes that it will cost a few thousands of dollars and a travel agency will be needed to have all the details of the trip organized. A lot of people travel that way but there is also an alternative – a much cheaper one where you (but not a travel agent) decides which holy places and for how long you will visit.

During the last six years I have traveled to multiple holy places in Israel, Poland, Spain, Lithuania, France, Italy (two times) and Portugal (four times). Each of these pilgrimages lasted for about two weeks and was organized entirely by myself.  The cost of each two-week-long trip with transatlantic flights never exceeded $200-300 and some of them were even completely free.

How that is possible? Simple – I paid for my flights and hotels with frequent flyer miles, hotel and/or credit card rewards points which almost everybody can get for free as long as their credit score and money management skills are good. And when it comes to planning and organizing my trips, it was not difficult to prepare for them with all the information that is available online today.

Although I was traveling cheaply and organizing trips easy, one question kept coming to my mind over and over again – why do I see so few people from English-speaking countries visiting those holy places? When I was in Fatima and Lourdes, I could hear people talk Spanish and Italian every day. When I was in Israel visiting Catholic and Orthodox churches, I felt like the most common language among pilgrims was…Russian. And during the canonization Mass of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII in Rome in 2014 one could asking himself if he was in Poland or Italy as the streets of Rome were flooded with people from Poland. Of course, there were rare instances when I saw English-speaking pilgrims at the holy places, but for some reason most of them did not come from countries with large Catholic populations (such as United States or Canada) – they were from Ireland.

After thinking about it for a while, I came to the conclusion that there were three main reasons of why so few English-speaking pilgrims visit holy places in Europe and Israel. First, a lot of people in the U.S. and Canada assume that traveling to Europe and Israel is very expensive. Second, people think that it is difficult to organize all the details of a trip to a foreign country which is thousands of miles away from home. Third, people do not go to holy places because their faith is weak.

The purpose of this blog will be to encourage more people to take pilgrimages by showing that (1) pilgrimages can be very cheap or even free when one knows how to take advantage of frequent flyer, hotel and credit card rewards programs; (2) planning a pilgrimage can be easy and enjoyable experience; (3) pilgrimage is one of the best ways of renewing and revitalizing one’s faith life.

I will be posting articles a few times each week with information on how to cheaply book airline tickets and hotels with miles and points, how to use public transportation to travel from one holy place to another in Europe and Israel, what a pilgrim can expect to see at each holy place and most importantly what is the history and spiritual message of each of those holy sites.

Before ending this first post I would also like to share pictures of some of the holy places and events that I have visited during the last few years. I will be writing more about each of them in the near future. Don’t forget to check this blog in a few days.


St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome


The Main Altar In St. Peter’s Basilica In Rome


St Peter’s Tomb In St. Peter’s Basilica In Rome


Tomb Of St. Pope John Paul II In St. Peter’s Basilica In Rome


Canonization Mass Of St. John Paul II and St. John XIII In St. Peter’s Square In Rome On April 27, 2014.


Coliseum in Rome


Birth Place Of Jesus In Bethlehem


Basilica Of The Annunciation In Nazareth, Israel
Basilica Of The Annunciation In Nazareth, Israel


Holy Family Greets Visitors At St. Joseph’s Church In Nazareth, Israel


Judaean Desert In Israel


Sea Of Galilee In Capernaum, Israel


View Of Jerusalem Through The Window Of Dominus Flevit Church On Mount Of Olives, Israel


Pater Noster Church On Mount Of Olives In Jerusalem, Israel. The Church Was Built On The Place Where Jesus Taught His Apostles Our Father Prayer.


Garden Of Gethsemane In Jerusalem, Israel


Upper Room On Mt. Zion In Jerusalem, Israel Where The Last Supper Took Place


Church Of The Holy Sepulcher In Jerusalem, Israel Built On the Place Where Jesus Was Crucified, Buried and Resurrected


Altar Marking The Place Of Jesus’s Crucifixion In The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Israel


Our Lady Of Lourdes Grotto In Lourdes, France


Miraculous Spring In Lourdes, France


Station Of The Cross In Lourdes, France


Incorruptible Body Of St. Bernadette Soubirous In Her Monastery in Nevers, France


Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain (Exterior)


Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain (Interior)


Sagrada Familia Basilica In Barcelona, Spain (Interior)


St. Francis Basilica In Assisi, Italy


Tomb Of St. Francis In Assisi, Italy


Basilica Of Our Lady Of The Pillar, Zaragoza, Spain


Our Lady Of The Pillar, Zaragoza, Spain


Basilica Of St. Therese In Lisieux, France


St. Therese Of Lisieux Family House In Lisieux, France


Confessional Where St. Therese Made Her First Confession In St. Peter’s Church In Lisieux, France


Monastery Of Santa Maria de Montserrat In Montserrat Mountains, Spain


Our Lady Of Montserrat Statue In Montserrat Monastery, Spain


Side Entrance Into Santiago de Compostela Cathedaral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain


Tomb Of St James In Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Spain


Divine Mercy Shrine In Vilnius, Lithuania (With The Original Divine Mercy Picture Painted Under Direct Supervision Of St. Faustina Kowalska)


Chapel Of Our Lady Of The Gate Of Dawn In Vilnius, Lithuania (Where Divine Mercy Picture Was Publicly Venerated For The First Time)


Jesus Appeared To St. Fautina In This Room In Vilnius, Lithuania And Gave Her The Divine Mercy Chaplet Prayer


Church Of St. Ildefonso In Porto, Portugal


Senhor da Pedra Chapel On Miramar Beach, Portugal


Holy House In Loreto, Italy


Rosary Prayer In Fatima, Portugal On May 12, 2017 (Eve Of The 100 Anniversary Of Apparitions)


Procession After The Mass In Fatima, Portugal On May 13, 2017 (Celebration Of 100 Years Anniversary Of The Apparitions)


Pope Francis Leaving Fatima Basilica On May 13, 2017


Tomb Of St. Francisco Marto In Fatima, Portugal


Tombs Of St. Jacinta Marto and Sr Lucia Santos In Fatima, Portugal


Our Lady Of Czestochova, Poland


Divine Mercy Shrine In Krakow, Poland


Basilica Of The Sacred Heart In Paris, France


Perpetual Adoration In Sacred Heart Basilica In Paris, France (Uninterrupted Since The Year 1885)


Chapel Of The Miraculous Medal In Paris, France (Mary’s Apparitions to St. Catherine Laboure Took Place In This Chapel)


Incorruptible Body Of St. Catherine Laboure In Miraculous Medal Chapel In Paris, France


Notre Dame Cathedral In Paris, France


Statue Of St. Ann and Virgin Mary (As A Child) In Notre Dame Cathedral In Paris, France