Monday, July 1, 2013

Slovakia Part 1

So, I never really explained why, when we could be going to the beach, we are heading to EASTERN Europe. That's right, not even the land of the French and Italians...we're going straight to the Eastern Bloc. It's high time I filled you in.

In May of 2004, my aunt, brother and I headed to Slovakia to visit some family. It seemed the perfect time. I was jobless after moving from Philly to get married and my brother, who was not yet married, was able to take time off to visit. We would meet family, share some laughs and head home.

Well, it was sort of like that. The family, anyway. First, was Kosice and Paul. He is my aunt's uncle, I think anyway, but WOW...Charlie and I almost fell to the ground. It was as if my dad, who had died in 1997, were standing before us. I guess there is something to be said for genetics.
Even the hair is the same color. Wow. I still get goosebumps looking at this picture.

So, then we met Fr. Peter, who works at the seminary in Kosice. He was "working" on his English and was to be our tour guide. Let's just say it's good that my aunt is fluent in Slovak.
Peter ended up agreeing to serve as #3 child's godfather which is another great reason we're heading East!

Siroke, in the center of the country, was next. This is the home village of my dad's family. It was quite moving to meet some of his direct relatives and visit the cemetery where my aunt's grandparents and her elder sister are buried (yes, we have a thing about cemeteries, don't we?)


My aunt's sister's grave

That, my friends, is a STORK's nest. Yes, there were lots of "baby signs" to be had during this trip
In the evening of our day in Siroke, we all walked out of Peter's childhood home and joined the rest of the village to attend evening Mass. I didn't appreciate it at the time but now I am awed by the scene that is in my brain from that night. What an amazing site. People actually planned their day around Mass! The whole village!
On to Levoca. This is the site of a Marian Shrine to which a big pilgrimage occurs each July. You may notice that neither of our trips coincide with this pilgrimage. I prefer the quiet times.

St. Anne's window

The altar

the trail to

Mary's chapel, where the stream runs uphill and the water is said to have miraculous powers.
By this point in our trip, most of the family and friends were praying for us. Why? Well, my bro was in his late 30's and still not married and I had been married nearly a year with no sign of a child. These two things put together cried out for intervention.
Since babies are of utmost importance, I was given spring water to drink and we visited the nuns who live next to the church and take care of the grounds of Levoca. After having tea, while we were saying our goodbyes, one of the nuns held her hands over my belly, said a prayer and told my aunt, "have her come back in a year with her baby." OOhhh...again. Tears thinking about it. It was such an amazing thing to be near people who are so close to their faith.
So, nearly 10 years later, we will return with our five babies. What blessings we have had during that time. What a joy it will be to show my children this place - that they hear of so often - which had so much to do with their coming into being. 


  1. Wow, what a great opportunity to go back. Beautiful churches. Drink some more of that miraculous water - who knows what will happen next time!

  2. I'm glad to see this is only part 1...what a beautiful story. Much, much better than any beach!