One day, I went to St Francis’s Church in Enna. The Franciscan friar that was celebrating Mass told us the story of Saint Catherine Laboure.

She was born into a well-to-do family in 1806. Since she was a little girl, Saint Vincent De Paul appeared to her in a dream.

In 1830 Saint Catherine became a novice in the hospice of Daughters of Charity, the religious order founded by Saint Vincent De Paul.

One night, a young boy woke up Catherine and asked her to follow him to the chapel. She followed him. At the touch of the young boy, the doors of the chapel burst open. The church was lit up. Maria was sitting on a chair and asked Catherine to come close.

At the end of the same year the apparition occurred to her again. This time Our Lady was standing on a globe. She ordered that a medal of the apparition should be made. The miraculous medal.”

The Franciscan friar gave a few medals to the congregation and asked us to give them to those in need.

Now I am in Paris. This morning I went to visit the Chapel where the apparitions happened. I wanted to see the incorrupt body of Saint Catherine, but it was not possible because Mass was said continuously in the chapel. I couldn’t get close to the sarcophagus.

Even though I couldn’t see the body of Saint Catherine, I felt very peaceful.

In this holy place I have learned something more about Saint Vincent De Paul and his Sisters of Charity.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind






My natural desire to meet the supernatural and allay my

fear of death had, over time, been leading me to the places

where it was said that the Virgin Mary appeared to human

beings. In my life, I had visited quite a few Marian sanctuaries,

a few of them by chance, others of my own free will.

A constant of all the sanctuaries I visited was that Our

Lady had appeared to children or plain folk. This made me

think about my way of searching for God. I read hundreds

of books about enlightenment, meditation, religion, Holy

Scripture, and so on. I don’t want to say that my work has

turned out to be useless. Learning is better than ignorance,

but definitely it is not enough to get close to God, because the

path to God can only be covered by the soul and not the

intellect. The soul doesn’t need learning, only purity of heart.


One day my wife said, “There’s another important

sanctuary that you have not seen yet, called Banneux in


I really didn’t know about Our Lady of Banneux, even

though I was always looking for holy places. “We should go

there,” I said. “And we’ll take the opportunity to visit Belgium,

which is a small country, but rich in traditions.”

When we arrived in Brussels we found accommodations

near downtown. What left me speechless was the view of the

Grand Place, which is an architectural jewel. We visited all the

tourist attractions in Brussels, and then we moved to Banneux

by bus. It is a small village near the city of Liege.

Mariette was the first-born child of seven children. She

went to school and catechism, but she didn’t make much

progress because she didn’t have time to devote to study, as

she had to help her mother in the daily chores. On the evening

of January 15, 1933, she was looking out of the window,

waiting for her brother who had not yet come home, when

she saw a young, beautiful, shining lady in the garden.

Mom!” she called. “I see a lady in the garden. She is the

Holy Virgin.”

The apparition appeared eight times. The Virgin called

herself “The Virgin of the Poor.” During the second sighting,

Our Lady led Mariette to a spring, saying that it should be

reserved for Herself and for all nations. As it had happened

in other places where the Holy Mother appeared, she also

recommended praying, and asked that a chapel should be

built in the place where she appeared.

When we arrived in Banneux, the bus stopped next to a

square. At the end of the square there was a street that led to

the sanctuary. The atmosphere in Banneux was different

from other Marian sanctuaries. It was much simpler and

there weren’t many shops. We walked towards the chapel and

found a water basin on the right, which was where little

Mariette had dipped her hands. We too dipped our hands and

drank some of the water.

After visiting the chapel, we walked through the woods

that bound the water basin. While we were walking, I realized

why Our Lady had called herself The Virgin of the Poor. We

well-to-do people tend to underestimate the issue of poverty.

It is one of the most serious social problems. Here amid the

woods of Banneux, in my mind I saw all the jobless, poor

Sicilians that had migrated to Belgium to work in the coal

mines after the end of the Second World War. Many of them

died trapped underground, while those who survived

contracted an illness called silicosis, which was a progressive

disease caused by the inhalation of dust in mines. My mind

went to the immigrants that try to reach the Sicilian coast

packed in precarious boats, which sometimes wrecked, causing

the deaths of hundreds of people, whose only fault is to be

poor and searching for a better place to live.

I recalled a butcher in Enna who had a large family. My

father used to go to his shop to buy lamb at Easter. Over time,

many butcher shops sprang up in Enna, so that butcher

couldn’t match the competition and became poor. He took on

debts to feed his family, hoping he would be able to pay them,

but things didn’t go well. He fell into despair and couldn’t find

a way out. One night he left his home and told his wife that he

had to cut a few lambs’ throats, but things went differently. He

pulled down the shutters in his shop, and instead of cutting

lambs’ throats, he cut his own. The following day his blood

still leaked through the chink of the shutter, flowing into the


There are many tragedies caused by poverty that we don’t

know about. Sometimes, even when we know about them we

ignore them instead of doing something to try to overcome

the scourge of poverty.

Here, where Our Lady of the Poor appeared, I saw in my

mind’s eye how many conflicts were sparked off by poverty.

Indigence gives rise to social malaise, and then to a Mafia,

terrorism, and war. It is not by chance that terrorists and

members of the Mafia are recruited from the poorest classes.

We left Banneux and headed for Amsterdam. My wife

wanted to visit the Van Gogh Museum, which contains an

ample collection of his paintings. He was a genius, but also a

very unlucky man who suffered from mental disorders. He

was found dead at the age of thirty-seven from a gunshot

wound that he likely fired himself.

Excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by ETTORE GRILLO

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




Erez took a book from the table and showed me two


“‘You can see that there are two pages of explanation for

four single words. Hebrew is not like Italian, where one word

has one meaning. In our language, one word has many


Once in the city of Prague,’ continued Erez’s friend,

there was a rabbi who laid some soil shaped as a man on a

table, and then he created a man without soul, made only by

flesh. He created that soulless man just to protect the Jewish

community of Prague.’

“‘This kind of creature is called a golem. By word you can

create a golem, and by word you can deactivate it. You cannot

imagine how powerful the word is,’ said Erez turning to me.

The Rabbi of Prague created the Golem through Hebraic

words, and afterwards, upon the request of the Emperor as the

Golem had become too violent, he deactivated it using different

Hebraic words.’

“‘Word creates life, events, and actions…

Excerpt from The Vibrations of Words by ETTORE GRILLO

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




At dawn, I went to the beach for my usual jogging. It was a foggy day, and the sun seemed to be unwilling to rise.

As I jogged on the beach, I felt like running amid the clouds. It was as if maya (illusion) mixed reality with dream.

Then, I recalled an experience that happened to the Chinese master, Chuang-tzu.

Last night,” he said, “I dreamed to be a butterfly. Now, I don’t know if I am a man who dreamed to be a butterfly or a butterfly that dreams to be a man.”

I sympathize with him. We cannot be sure if we are living a real life or we are dreaming.

Anyway, how about following the way our heart directs us? It cannot lead us astray.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




Walking on the beach in the evening, I saw a small temple that had a festival atmosphere.

Around the temple there were vendors of flowers, bananas, sweets, and toys. There was also music and drum rolls.

Made curious, I walked to the small temple. There was a statue of a god inside.

What is the name of this god?” I asked an old man who looked like a local.

His name is Someshwar.” He answered.

What does Someshwar mean?”

It means ‘protector of the borders.’ All fishermen, whatever religion they have, worship him, because they go far away in the ocean. They believe that Someshwar protects them from the perils of the sea.”


Behind the temple there is a tree. I saw somebody put offerings on it. Is it a sacred tree?” I asked.

Not sacred.”

So, why people put garlands of flowers, coconuts, and bananas on its trunk and light candles in front of it?”


Nobody can see the real God. Anything can become God. If somebody worships a tree and puts offerings on it, other people will follow him and the tree will become holy. All religions are made by followers.” The old man said.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




A mandala is a ritual drawing or painting usually round-shaped. It symbolizes the universe.

In some parts of India, every day housewives draw a colorful mandala in front of their house. To make it they use chalk powder which they drop from their hand very skillfully. Over the day the drawing of mandala fades away because people step on it.

Walking on the beach of Goa, I could find somebody who draws a mandala on the seashore. The work will not last long. Soon the tide will erase it.

While looking at a mandala on the sand, I recalled what once happened in an ancient Zen Monastery. A master gave his disciple the task of heaping dry leaves under the blowing wind. There was a deep meaning in that seemingly absurd task?

A mandala drawn with chalk powder or a mandala on the sand has the same meaning of heaping dry leaves under the wind? I think they symbolize our life. Every day we strive to heap dry leaves that the wind will blow away sooner or later. Every day we draw our mandala which will disappear tomorrow like that on the sand.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




The highlight of Arambol is the sandy beach surrounded by coconut trees and other tropical plants by the Indian Ocean.

Arambol is a paradise for hippies and whoever loves freedom. On the beach, people from all over the world and all walks of life enjoy swimming, playing badminton, doing yoga and exercise, playing the drum and other musical instruments, and dancing to the sound of the drums.

At sunset, knick-knacks vendors, tarot cards readers, someone who gives a special massage on the back, fortune tellers, healers and so on, set their cloth on the beach and try to sell their things.

Seeing the long line of vendors, I wanted to mingle with them and laid my cloth on the sand as well.

I displayed the books I had written. Even though I didn’t sell any book, joining the other vendors was an amazing experience for me. From my position on the sand I was able to see many kinds of people passing by, and above all, I admired the unique sunset of Arambol which marks the passing of time and of our life like a tick of a clock.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




Today I visited Palgong Mountain near the city of Daegu, the third biggest city in Korea.

To go up, I walked along a broad uphill walkway, and then I climbed one thousand three hundred and sixty-five stairs. I arrived at the top of the mountain with my tongue hanging out, because the stairs are steep and uneven; then the statue of Katpawi Buddha appeared to me.

It is the only Buddha with a hat on. It was carved by a monk who intended to placate his mother’s soul by this. The hat on Buddha’s head is a traditional Korean hat wore only by high class men in ancient times. It is said that if you make a wish (only one wish) to Katpawi Buddha, it will be fulfilled.

While I was facing the statue, the sound of a Buddhist song flooded my ears. The words were mountain is mountain – water is water.

Then, I sat down to contemplate Katpawi Buddha. I felt as if he was opening my eyes to see reality as it is, not as I want it to be. Yes, mountain is mountain – water is water, I thought. How many times we mistake mountain for water and vice versa! This happens because of our delusions which prevent us from seeing things as they are. We wrongly perceive things, people, and situations, so as a distort mirror reflects a distort world.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind





A few days ago, I was strolling along the streets in the center of Chiclayo when I came across a long parade made up of former students of “Collegio Nacional De San Josè”, which is a school only for boys. It was established one hundred and fifty-six years ago in Chiclayo.

The school band headed the procession.

Without music the parade would have been lifeless, but the sound of the band enlivened it and drew people from every corner of the city.

What would be life without music? It surely would be gloomy. Music exists from time immemorial. According to many, life itself originates from music, or a sound, or a word.

A long time ago, I saw a movie called Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The director was Steven Spielberg. The story was this: some people had wormed their way into a secret military base where a close encounter with aliens was going to happen. After a few attempts, the aliens got in touch with the earthmen just by playing musical notes, as their language was based on music. Was it mere science fiction? We don’t know, but it is certain that music is the only non-verbal language in the universe which everybody can understand, both earthmen and extraterrestrials.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




During my first week in Peru, I happened to attend a meeting about vegetarian cooking. It was held at a vegan restaurant, not far from downtown Chiclayo.

The lecturer was a nutritionist who spoke only Spanish. Among other things, she emphasized the importance of two nutrients: spirulina and salvia Hispanica commonly known as chia.

Hung at the entrance of the restaurant was a board on which famous people were portrayed.

Richard Gere, Leonardo Di Caprio, Brad Pitt and all the others on the board are vegetarian, even Albert Einstein was a vegetarian.

As for me, I am not totally vegetarian, but I have reduced meat intake by ninety percent. My aim is to eliminate meat from my diet completely.

A meat-free diet is beneficial to health and shows love and respect for all living creatures.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind