A Trip to Lima, Peru
In October of 1895, Mother Cabrini and a companion, Mother Chiara, set forth from Panama to go to Buenos Aires. Their sea journey took them to Ecuador, many ports in Peru, and Chile. Upon arrival in Los Andes, Chile, they had a choice: either to continue around the south of the continent, or to cross the cordillera by mule to reach Argentina. Mother Chiara, who was badly afflicted by seasickness, opted for the dangerous mountain crossing. But that is a story for another day.
From start to finish the journey took three months. Mother Cabrini entrusted the trip to St. Rose of Lima. Upon arriving in Callao, she was determined to visit the saint’s remains in the Basilica in Lima. Here is her narrative of how that came to be.
Letter Dated October 25, 1895
I arose at four and awakened M. Chiara at a quarter after five so she could dress, in the hope of being able to go ashore at six and immediately take a train to Lima to complete our pilgrimage and to fulfill our vow of receiving communion at the grave of Saint Rose.
Our hopes soon vanished, since at seven-thirty customs officers had not arrived and no one could leave before their visit. Not even the small boats were allowed near the ship without incurring a substantial fine. They finally arrived but, to our great disappointment, we learned that the next train to Lima did not leave until after nine. What were we to do?
M. Chiara had battled with the waves long enough and did not feel she could keep fasting much longer. Whatever the cost, I did not want to miss receiving communion in honor of Saint Rose, as I had promised. I had made many pacts with her and had entrusted to her the remainder of our trip and the work that I was to undertake.
I could easily fast since I had not battled, but only played with the waves, delighting in their powerlessness, in the shattering of their proud, surging billows and their frequent rising like foam or smoke, often resembling Niagara Falls, which I saw three years ago, near Buffalo in the United States.
We took the train and arrived in Lima by ten o’clock, where we hired a carriage and were soon at the Dominican church, where we were able to fulfill our devotions. At the altar where I received Communion there was, above the tabernacle, an image of the Divine Infant with open arms and a truly heavenly smile of extraordinary beauty. He seemed to fix His gaze on me and say, “I was waiting for you here to favor you through the merits of My beloved Rose, whom you have come to honor.”
The Holy Infant’s vivid glances penetrated my very being. So great was the relief I experienced that it made me forget I was still fasting. Before I knew it, it one post-meridian, without my having taken even a cup of coffee.
If Jesus so rewards a small sacrifice made for His love, what will he not do for truly faithful souls?