In 2018 before undertaking my masters, I decided to do what seemed like every other young person did before they started university (and what I’d always wanted to do) - I backpacked across Europe for 6 weeks. With my best friend from high school, a very tight budget from our savings and only a few pairs of clothes, we travelled across 8 different countries in the snowy winter, visiting old friends, meeting weird and wonderful travellers, praying in grand churches and cathedrals, experiencing the Viennese opera, hiking in Scotland, road tripping in Spain, running into rioters in Paris and London, saying hello St Peter and the Pope at Vatican City and many other great adventures. It was quite a wild ride, and honestly I was just as nervous as I was excited before we began. Instead of being consumed by fear, I left it into the hands of God, my guardian angel and my sister in heaven, St Therese who was the first statue or painting I saw in every church I walked into during our trip, so I knew she was taking good care of me.
It’s always a good idea to bring a book with you on your travels, and mine was “St John Paul the Great: His Five Loves”. I knew St JPII was a wonderful Pope and I’d heard Jason Evert (a great Catholic evangelist) speak fondly of him so I knew it’d be a good read. It didn’t disappoint, however I was beginning to become disappointed when I saw that I still had a few weeks left of travel and I’d almost finished my book. Reading the book had not only helped me learn more about the holy life St JPII had led, but increased my prayer life in meditating upon each chapter and praying for his intercession.
Whilst in Vienna, having finished my book and my travelling friend unfortunately sick in bed, one morning I decided to explore and find a new church in the city where I could pray for my friend to get better and guidance for the rest of our trip.
After about an hour of walking, slightly disappointed I h