A tale of two cities

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - Even though technically they’re in two different countries, Ireland’s two biggest cities, Dublin and Belfast, are a two-hour drive apart with no border checkpoint.

Off Ireland's beaten track

DROGHEDA, Ireland - Beyond the must-see sites and attractions like the Cliffs of Moher, Giant’s Causeway and the Guinness warehouse, there are many places in Ireland that are overlooked by tourists. 

Gesù is a Montreal gem

MONTREAL - The Church of the Gesù is in the heart of Montreal, just east of Place Ville Marie. Hidden from view, in part by a high stone wall, its main doors are four metres above street level and the marquees between the ascending spiral staircases mean it is easily mistaken for a theatre. Which the Church of the Gesù also happens to be.

A journey back to my Calabrian Byzantine roots

ROME - Like many Roman Catholic immigrant families from southern Italy, I grew up with a devotion to the patron saint of my family’s ancestral town. Every Italian city, town and village has one. As a general rule, the smaller the village, the more obscure the saint.

Catholicity goes hand in hand with Italian roots

TRAVESIO, ITALY - It’s not every Sunday you’re escorted to Mass by a procession. Upon arriving in Travesio in northern Italy, a marching band and about a dozen people carrying banners representing various comunes (or municipalities) in the region come into view. As they lead us through the winding streets to the parish of St. Quirino for a Mass celebrated by the regional bishop, we wave back at onlookers. With a backdrop of bells ringing atop the stone tower beside the church, it’s time for the celebration to begin. 

Soo tower an ode to missionary past

SAULT STE. MARIE, MICH. It stands there, all 60 metres of it, a giant concrete structure, looking like it’s the control tower for the world famous Soo Locks, two blocks away, that connect Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes.

Crossing the divide along the Path of Abraham

TORONTO - The Middle East, and particularly the generation-spanning conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, is hard to understand. Which is exactly why Toronto faith leaders took 33 Muslims, Jews and Christians to the heart of the conflict in March.

Ancient burial site near St. Peter’s opens to public

VATICAN CITY - In the first century B.C., a grassy hillside just north of what is now St. Peter’s Square was used as a burial place for local Romans.

How the Holy Land hit me

During a recent six-day assignment to the Holy Land I often referred to the landscape as being 50 shades of beige. But despite the vistas being stuck on one small section of the colour wheel, I couldn’t stop pressing the shutter on my camera. I took more than 1,700 photos despite attempts to be selective.

Cathedral of St. Teresa of Avila is the splendour of Amos

AMOS, QUE. - For Fr. Joseph Dudemaine, the pastor in Amos in 1914, the challenge of building a church must have seemed overwhelming. The remote settlement in the Abitibi-Temiskaming region of northwestern Quebec had a population of just 2,500. Although the area had potential for agriculture, forestry and mining, a hundred years ago it was nothing but trees.

Holy Land history, of the past and in the making

JERUSALEM - Quietly the men in brown robes mingle with tourists and pilgrims alike. For more than seven centuries, the Franciscans have kept watch on behalf of the Church for more than 50 sites in the Holy Land — 90 per cent of the identified holy places.