Arranged by Marge Santo and Viking Travel, the trip was primarily designed to celebrate the canonization of Popes John XXIIII and John Paul II, which formally took place earlier this year, plus tour some of the major religious sites in the two cities. The fact that Viking Travel was able to arrange a series of private audiences, including receiving a personal blessing and gift from Pope Francis, made the trip personally rewarding for travelers.
Those in the pilgrimage were also treated to visits to Basilicas including St. Peter’s, St. Mary’s, and St. Paul’s in Rome and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Daily prayer reflections were held in both cities. A beautiful cruise on the Bosporus, which separates Asia from Europe, was also a highlight.
In retrospect, Marge Santo commented: “The Holy Father held my hand and asked me to pray for him.”
This particular travel experience took over a year to develop. Viking Travel tour escort Marge Santo, and three other Byzantine leaders – Father Thomas Loya, pastor of Annunciation Byzantine Parish in Homer Glen, IL and host of “Light of the East” radio show; Jack Figel, founder and publisher of Eastern Christian Publications and Journal in Fairfax, VA; and Timothy Ware, ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople from Oxford, England UK – served as hosts for the pilgrimage.
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NAME: Marge Santo – Viking Travel
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