CFNEWS March 2008
Mercury News June, 2008

Dream of Italy (September/October 2003)
Curled Up With A Good Book (July 2003)
Yoga International (May 2003)
National Association of Catholic Families
The Midwest Book Review (March 2003)
Heartland Reviews (March/April 2003)

National Association of Catholic Families Email Bulletin

MARCH 2008
Issue Number 875
The Pilgrim's Italy

1431.26 The Pilgrim's Italy : A Travel Guide to the Saints, James & Colleen Heater. ISBN 13/EAN 9780971986022 £12.99. Deep Books Ltd., Unit 3 Goose Green Trading Estate, 47 East Dulwich Road, London SE22 9BN.

* In March 2003 we reviewed ''The Pilgrim's Italy: A Travel Guide to the Saints" a book produced by Colleen and James Heater after they planned their honeymoon to Italy in 1998, only to discover that most of the travel guides of the time were not useful for anyone planning a pilgrimage. Because of this, they decided to write their own pilgrims' guide. The following year, they returned to Italy, visited over thirty-five shrines and began to create this admirable book. Here, now, is a revised and updated edition.

There is new information on two beloved saints, St. Anthony of Padua and St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio). Three shrines related to St. Anthony of Padua have been added: two in Camposampiero and one in Arcella.

In a review of the earlier edition of this book, Sister Wendy Beckett, wrote, 'Pilgrims are not tourists. They have come, quietly and humbly, to seek the holy and enter more deeply into God's Blessedness . . . The Heaters have found this stillness for themselves and here set out to share its essentials with men and women who earnestly seek God.'

Not only does the revised Guide contain short, clearly written lives of individual saints, but also gives explicit directions and local maps, and directions on how to find quiet places for meditation at the various shrines. There are also some helpful phrases in the language of the host country ('I would like to see Saint Dominic's cell - Vorrei vedere la cella di San Domenico').

The authors of this admirable book are both longtime practitioners of yoga and meditation. The section on 'Meditation', we warned in our earlier review, should be read with some caution. 1431.26

—Tim Matthews, Editor, CF News
This bulletin is privately circulated by the National Association of Catholic Families, UK Registered Charity No.298481

The Mercury News Silicon Valley / Chicago Tribune

Gear guides: 'The Pilgrim's Italy: A Travel Guide to the Saints'
The Pilgrim's Italy: A Travel Guide to the Saints
(Inner Travel Books, 288 pp., $19.95)

This is Italy for the spiritual traveler. In the newly revised edition, authors James and Colleen Heater not only take visitors to Italy's holy Roman Catholic sites in travel-guidebook fashion but also provide the background necessary for achieving deeper experiences. The pilgrimages they outline arise from the authors' own explorations, beginning for them with a trip to Assisi, where they both felt "uplifted and empowered." The authors offer ways, practical and meditative, to explore more than 20 of Italy's shrines with the saints themselves serving as guides. Chapters on Campania, Tuscany, Umbria, Latium (which includes Rome) and other regions cover the shrines of the region, accompanied by essays on the saints venerated there, useful maps and directions. This second edition also includes descriptions of the new church of St. Pio at Pietrelcina and a section on the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim road leading to Rome.

- Chicago Tribune

The Pilgrim's France - Guide Book Review
By James Martin, Your Guide to Europe for Visitors

The Pilgrim's France - It's a Different Sort of Guide

Guide Rating - Five Stars

When we think of a pilgrimage, it's likely we're thinking of a long, dusty walk over routes littered with Romanesque churches, each demanding the faithful approach via a seemingly endless set of stairs that the faithful navigate on bare knees. What about following in the footsteps of the Saints by visiting their shrines via your rental car, bus, or train? Guiding you to spiritual touchstones associated with the saints is accomplished expertly by James and Colleen Heater in The Pilgrim's France.

How the Guide Goes About Introducing You to Spiritual Shrines of France

The Pilgrim's France is arranged by regions in France. Within each topic area are the places to visit with maps and other helpful information for the pilgrim traveling by car, train or bus. There are even samples of French phrases you might use in the event you can't find a specific shrine and need to ask a native. And of course, there's a wealth of historical information on the places and how they became shrines and to whom they're dedicated.

The Pilgrim's France isn't a general guide to France. It'll get you from shrine to shrine and provide you with a wealth of information that you probably didn't know about each place. I can't imagine a better guide for a spiritual journey within France, but you'll probably need another guide for the everyday stuff-train connections, hotels, and restaurants.

Who can use The Pilgrim's France? Is it only for Religious Folks?

What traveler hasn't been to a great cathedral or two? Do you just stand there and gape? Me, too. Last year I went to Chartres, France, and visited the famous cathedral. Any guide might have told me something like; "in 876 King Charles the Bald (I like him already) presented the church with a relic of Mary's veil, making Chartres a major pilgrimage destination." But I probably wouldn't have known about Chartres' magnetic spirituality. That's right, according to The Pilgrim's France, "Scientists have recently discovered that fourteen water channels travel under the Cathedral to merge at a single point under the choir. This convergence produces a measurable vibration level as elevated as those found in some Tibetan monasteries and Egyptian pyramids." The druids knew this, of course, because they performed ceremonies on the same spot in ancient times; we're just catching up.

So while the book primarily traces the lives of the Catholic saints, it digs deeper through the historic rubble that churches and faiths are built upon. And you'll be pointed toward places you couldn't even imagine without this helpful book.

The Pilgrim's France: The Bottom Line

Armed with The Pilgrim's France, you'll visit hidden labyrinths, you'll be pointed toward the quietest places and times to meditate within each shrine if you so desire, and your experience, even if not totally transformative, will at least be full and rich. It's likely The Pilgrim's France will transform your vision of shrines and cathedrals--you'll come away with a rich and artistic tapestry of knowledge instead of a snapshot of crumbling columns and large apses.

I can't find a single fault with the book. The places and their spiritual relevance are discussed in a concise and interesting way, the maps give you just what you need to know, and the coverage of hidden secrets will make you value the book even more. In short, the advice to travelers is top notch. I have to give this one a five out of five stars.

The Pilgrim's Italy, a book with the same theme written by the Heaters, is equally beneficial. You can find out more about the authors, the Pilgrim’s guides and their publishing venture at

©2005 About, Inc. All rights reserved. A PRIMEDIA Company

Dream of Italy
September/October 2003

Read Italy: Editor’s Picks for Fall

Italy is so rich with opportunities to explore religious history, but it’s often hard to put all that you see in context. That’s why I like The Pilgrim’s Italy: A Travel Guide to the Saints (Inner Travel Books, $17.95) so much. Authors James and Colleen Heater, longtime yoga and meditation teachers, divide the book by regions and highlight the cities that are home to the saints as well as their shrines. Each entry contains a detailed biography of the saint as well as practical information on visiting places of interest. This book will appeal equally to the merely curious as well as the hard core pilgrim. The entry on the Padre Pio (who was canonized in 2002) shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo (Puglia) is particularly noteworthy.

—Kathleen A. McCabe, Publisher and Editor-In-chief Volume 2, Issue 5

Curled Up with A Good Book
July 2003

The Pilgrim's Italy: A Travel Guide to the Saints

It's an idea so simple that it's remarkable it hasn't been done before. Lucky for James and Colleen Heater, co-authors of this pleasant and useful book, they were the ones who got to write it. The Heaters are Americans, followers of Paramhansa Yogananda, from whose teaching they experience the practical joys of meditation. The book mirrors the format of many ordinary travel guides - it tells, without touting, how to get around and where to stay. But the focus is meditation on holy persons and their history.

The concept of a non-Catholic meditating at the shrine of a Catholic saint may seem, to those not acquainted with universality in religion, a little awkward, to say the least. The authors state, "We believe that truth is universal and transcends religious boundaries." Whether we grew up Catholic,
Protestant or not Christian at all, most of us have our favorite saint. The life of St. Francis is part of our Western heritage, and of course Peter, Paul and other apostles are saints and have their shrines where one may contemplate the dedication and devotion of their lives.

Pilgrimage, the authors assert, "has been practiced since the sun first rose on human civilization." The urge latent in all of us to connect in some way with the sacred leads us to holy places and to the study of saintly lives. This book gives us a practical way in. Italy is certainly, for Christians, a
treasure trove of pilgrimage sites. The book helps the potential pilgrim get from shrine A to shrine B, and is seeded with helpful phrases in Italian for the language limited traveler. "Do you have a guidebook in English?" and "Can I see the saint's relics?" - two questions, for example, that would certainly go a long way to solving immediate problems.

For each place of pilgrimage, information is well formatted, including "Quiet areas for meditation" along with the usual lodging, transportation, and recommended reading.

The accounts of the lives and work of the saints begin with quotes when possible: "Speak only to God, or about God" (St. Dominic); "I have been useful in my life but I will be more so after my death" (St. Agnes of Montepulciano); "He who does the work of Christ must always live in Christ" (Fra Angelico). There are the most recently beatified such as Padre Pio, who died in 1968 after living for many years with the stigmata, including pain and dripping blood "a bewilderment and embarrassment to his superiors." And the most ancient, such as the church of St. Mary Major. At Mary's request, a snow fell in August of 352, indicating where the chapel was to be built, and where, we are told, "a reliquary below the center altar displays a piece of the baby Jesus' crib."

The book contains maps, web site information, and tips about travel in italy. It includes some helpful hints for the vegetarian pilgrim. The authors have centered in, as it were, on the possibilities of spiritual satisfaction that a sincere seeker may derive from spending time in a sacred room or cave where others have meditated and prayed over the years. They offer a chapter on getting started in basic meditation technique and advise, much as a hiker must get in shape, that a beginner needs to practice meditation before setting out.

As a compendium for the uninitiated, the book is worth reading for its own sake, even if one is not planning a trip to Italy and has not the means to make an outward journey to holy places. As the authors say, “Whether we travel to a sacred site or stay home and read about a saint,
our prayers and focused meditations are the most important aspect of inner pilgrimage. The true essence of pilgrimage is always centered at home, in one’s own heart."

© 2003 by Barbara Bamberger Scott for Curled Up With a Good Book

Yoga International Magazine
May 2003

By James and Colleen Heater
Inner Travel Books, 2003, 287 pages, $17.95,

Inspired by their teacher, Paramhansa Yogananda, James and Colleen Heater decided to make a pilgrimage to the shrines of Italy on their honeymoon. Frustrated by having to go to many different sources to find helpful information, they decided that a comprehensive guidebook was in order. The Pilgrim's Italy is their contribution to those who would like to have a deeper, more spiritually meaningful travel experience.

I thought I would just glance quickly through the book, but the stories drew me in so completely that I read it from cover to cover, revisiting saints familiar from my Catholic upbringing, and learning about many I had never heard of before (like St. Rita, "Saint of the Impossible"). Some entered the shelter of cloistered life when they were young, while others experienced many of the hardships of the world before turning to spiritual life. They all strove to follow the will of the Divine, devoting their lives to prayer, contemplation, and selfless service. Their stories are captivating and inspiring even if you have no intention of going to Italy.

But for those who are planning an actual pilgrimage, this comprehensive guidebook is a veritable wealth of practical, as well as spiritual, information. The main chapters are organized by region, and include biographies of the saints, followed by information on the shrines (such as the location of hidden rooms containing saints' relics, and how to find quiet areas for meditation and prayer). Points of interest are also covered, as are helpful Italian phrases, maps, and directions for getting to the shrines. Also included are tips for traveling in Italy, a resource section (which includes Internet sites, information on lodging in monasteries and convents, meditation resources, resources for travelers with disbilities, and information for vegetarian travelers), as well as a glossary and bibliography.

Although the Heaters focus on Catholic saints, their approach to pilgrimage is universal. They recognize the underlying truth that unites all religions, and believe that all of us can experience that truth, regardless of our individual faith, by practicing stillness and opening our hearts, minds, and souls to those who have achieved God-realization. The chapter entitled "A Guide to Meditating with the Saints" prepares the reader to do this by offering basic meditation techniques and suggestions.

Longtime practitioners of yoga, the Heaters teach meditation and inspirational music in a spiritual community in northern California. Colleen is a licensed therapist who specializes in addiction and codependency, and she writes a monthly column on addiction for the Point Reyes Light. James is a licensed architect who specializes in both religious and secular designs. He has led guided tours to sacred sites in both the United States and Italy.

The Pilgrim's Italy, the first of a series of spiritual travel guides the Heaters have planned, is an excellent guidebook. Lively and well written, it describes Italy vividly. But what makes it unique is its spiritual focus. In sharing their way of experiencing the presence and blessings of the saints by tuning inward, the Heaters pave the way for others to have a more enriching and meaningful pilgrimage.
—Irene Petryszak

National Association of Catholic Families

National Association of Catholic Families Email Bulletin

TUESDAY, MARCH 11th, 2003
Issue Number 875

CF NEWS recently received an email from Colleen Heater in the United States. 'I understand you are looking for information on Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites. I have just finished writing “'The Pilgrim's Italy: A Travel Guide to the Saints” along with my husband, and I wanted to bring it to your attention. We are not Catholic, but every saint and shrine in the book is Roman Catholic. The mission of Inner Travel Books is to make the sacred adventure of pilgrimage more available and accessible to people of all faiths'.

The idea of the book began when Colleen and James Heater planned their honeymoon to Italy in 1998. They quickly discovered that most travel guides were not useful for anyone planning a pilgrimage and decided to write something to meets the needs of those setting out on such a
journey. So, the following year, they returned to Italy and visited over thirty-five shrines, and began to create this book.

“The Pilgrim's Italy” is truly an admirable guide. Not only does it contains short, clearly written lives of individual saints (both well known and less well known - from St Andrew in Amalfi, for example, (1st cent) to St Leopold Mandic (20th cent), but also gives explicit directions and local maps, clear directions on how to find quiet places for meditation at the various shrines, helpful phrases in the language of the host country ('I would like to see Saint Dominic's cell - Vorrei vedere la cella di San Domenico').

There are also detailed hints about where to obtain further local information. ('There are some postcards for sale and a brochure in English available to the right of the front door as you walk in. To purchase something, you must ring the bell of the convent on the right of the main altar for assistance'). Websites are listed, bibliographies supplied and information given about such matters as lodging in monasteries and convents. The section on Meditation should, perhaps, be read with some caution.

“The Pilgrim's Italy”, writes Jyotish Novak in an introduction to the book, 'tells us to slow down and teaches us that real pilgrimage only starts once we stop'. This truly excellent guide is to be followed next year by 'The Pilgrims France,' and subsequent guides to other countries of Western Europe and North America.

—Tim Matthews, Editor, CF News
This bulletin is privately circulated by the National Association of Catholic Families, UK Registered Charity No.298481.

The Midwest Book Review
March 2003

The Midwest Book Review

The Pilgrim's Italy
James Heater & Colleen Heater
Inner Travel Books
14618 Tyler-Foote Road, Suite 171
Nevada City, CA
$17.95 1-866-715-8670

Collaboratively compiled and written by James and Colleen Heater, The Pilgrim's Italy: A Travel Guide To The Saints is a travel guide geared toward those Christians who want to follow the paths of Christian saints, seek out Christian shrines, and learn more about the lives of these notable and pious men and women while traveling in Italy. Enhanced with a wealth of information, maps, descriptions, and accessibility of holy sites, The Pilgrim's Italy is a first-rate guide to spiritually enriching travel and an invaluable aid in finding lodging in monasteries along the way.

The Midwest Book Review – Reviewer’s Bookwatch – Taylor’s Bookshelf, March 2003

Heartland Reviews
March/April 2003

Heartland Reviews

Title: The Pilgrim's Italy: A Travel Guide to the Saints
Author: James and Colleen Heater
Illustrator: Authors
Publisher and/or Distributor: Inner Travel Books
Publisher Website:
Pages: 288
ISBN: 0-9719860-0-2
Price: $17.95
Publishing Date: 2003
Reader: Bob Spear
Rating: Four hearts

This is a most unusual travel guide. If you are a serious admirer of the saints, this is the book for you. It focuses on the spiritual side of Italy. It is divided into the country's regions, examining the shrines of the various saints in each region. It is filled with interesting historical Church tidbits, as well as many practical touring hints and information. There are many helpful maps and pictures of busts and artwork depicting the many saints. It also goes into the making of spiritual connections with these Church heroes. There is information on how to do a pilgrimage cheaply by staying in convents and monasteries. The authors also provide internet resource information to help you plan your trip. We rated this guide four hearts.
Travel Books March/April 2003