Diana is the creative force behind The Faithful Traveler, as the show’s co-producer, writer, host, second cameraperson, and editor. She is also The Faithful Traveler’s entertaining and vivacious host, imbuing the series with an exuberance that attracts viewers of all ages and backgrounds and makes them excited to join her on her travels. Diana explores the art, architecture, history, and doctrine behind shrines and places of pilgrimage around the world, and hopes to encourage people to visit these spectacular locations themselves, armed with the information provided in The Faithful Traveler. For those who can’t make the travels themselves, Diana hopes to bring these amazing sites into their homes, and enable them to virtually make pilgrimage with her.
Born and raised in San Diego, Diana is a lifelong Catholic who uses her knowledge of her faith, her English and legal degrees, and the marketing and publicity skills she has honed in the last seventeen years as a book editor in trade and professional publishing markets in all of her roles with The Faithful Traveler. Diana received a BA in English at Pepperdine University and a JD from the University of Notre Dame Law School. She has been a book editor since 1998, and currently edits books for a publisher in New York City.
Today, I interview Diana von Glahn and ask her about her show and her marriage with David. I ask that you pray for both of them, since David was recently hospitalized.
What inspired The Faithful Traveler?
The Faithful Traveler grew out of seeds that were planted in my childhood, and which grew throughout my youth and young adulthood. I’m a cradle Catholic, and i grew up in San Diego, where Father Junipero Serra built the first of 21 missions in CA. I grew up loving the saints and learning about them. As i moved from my home to go to school, wherever i would go, i would seek out a Catholic Church because that was home.
As I travelled around–Malibu for college and South Bend for grad school with a year in London, my world view was growing, and I was encountering different styles of architecture and churches. I found them fascinating.
At Notre Dame, at the time, it was the only Catholic university with a chapel in every dorm. They all differed architecturally based on when they were built. I wanted to write a book about them, calling it The Chapels of Notre Dame! That idea was eventually scrapped because of life, but I continued to explore churches in my life, moving from San Diego to Mississippi to New York City.
In NYC, I met David. we moved to PA and eventually got engaged. As we planned our honeymoon, I wanted to include both Catholic and touristy things in our itinerary. We were watching a lot of the travel channel, and we’d often talk about how awesome it would be if there was a travel show on tv that went to catholic places, but that didn’t talk about Catholics like we were a bunch of nutters.
(Sometimes, non-Catholics can sound a little TOO skeptical when talking about things like incorruptible saints and eucharistic miracles. but really, who can blame them?!)
I wanted to watch something that had the production values of the Travel channel and the History channel, but that actually talked about Catholic things and places. Eventually, we decided that we had to create that show ourselves, and so The Faithful Traveler was born
Tell me about how you met.
David and I met shortly after I started working at a legal publisher in NYC
Apparently–or so he tells me–he thought I was cute and wanted to meet me. Unfortunately for him, the first thing he said to me was some snide remark about me being a lawyer (I was a legal editor), and I immediately decided I didn’t like him.
So for, like, a year, he would come by and try to talk to me, and I would be so rude!
It was horrible. I often say it was like Pride and Prejudice. Eventually, it got to the point where I would tolerate being in his company. (I was such a jerk!)
One day, I REALLY wanted to go see opera in central park, but all of my friends were all, “WHAT?! You’re crazy!”
No one would go with me! One of my friends said, “David von Glahn likes opera!”
I was desperate–this was a huge event and I didn’t want to go alone, so I asked David if he’d go with me and he said yes. I guess that was our first date. He bought wine and took me to a very nice restaurant. He made me laugh all night long.
The opera was horrible but we had fun and then we stayed up talking in Central Park until, like, 3 am.
He wanted to know what kind of guy I’d date, and I told him, “I’m only dating Catholics from now on, sorry.” He wasn’t Catholic, and I had just had years of dating non-Catholics and I eventually got tired of always compromising on my faith
David said, “well, what if I’m interested in converting?”
I said, “My kind of Catholic is too hard for you.” But by this point I liked him, and so I prayed about it
It occurred to me that there are many Catholics who aren’t too stellar about practicing their faith and so why would I deny this one person the opportunity to rise to the occasion? We started dating, and David went to Mass with me every Sunday. He LOVED it. He went to adoration with me at St. Patrick’s Cathedral one day early in our relationship.
Wow! The classic flirt and convert story.
I know, right?! But I really wasn’t flirting with him. Anyway, we dated for about 1 month and then Sept 11th happened. David was supposed to be flying to LA that day. I saw the whole thing from the windows of our office on 6th ave and when they closed the bridges, I gathered my girlfriends and we walked up to David’s apt on the Upper West Side. It changed everything. The tenor of our relationship. Our happy courting days were cut short. Eventually we moved to PA and got married.
We were engaged on the feast of the annunciation and married on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was a beautiful winter wedding.
What’s your marriage is like now, especially since you work together on the show?
We’ve been married 11 years and to be quite honest, my brand of Catholicism is hard for him sometimes. (My brand being cradle Catholic.) I love everything about the church and don’t ever question anything. He’s a New Yorker. He questions everything. For many years, this caused problems in our marriage, but we grew and learned. Now we do our best to make our differences work for us as opposed to against us
Marrying a convert isn’t easy, but you know, marrying anyone isn’t easy. I know many cradle Catholics who have married other cradle Catholics who have crises of faith or who get divorced. The key is being committed. Really committed.
Who are your go-to Saints?
The Blessed Mother, always. St Michael, St Joseph, St Rita of Cascia, and St Anthony, when I lose something.
What advice would you give to young married couples? And what advice would you give to singles?
To both, I would say read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
For the singletons out there, I’d say, read that book and identify what kind of love language you speak–what kind of love you need to feel loved. Then go out there and find someone who can give that to you. Don’t settle. Pray all the time. Don’t get impatient. A lifetime of being married to the wrong person is way worse than a lifetime of being alone because you can also be alone in a marriage and that is very painful
For the young marrieds or soon to be marrieds–my niece is among this list–I would say read the book together. Identify what love languages you speak and do your best to speak those languages to one another
The key to staying married is this: Forgive. Pray. Don’t ever quit. And don’t ever settle, either. Remember that your spouse is your vocation. He or she is your ladder to heaven or to hell, and you are the same for him or her. Let your spouse make you holy.
I once had a friend say something to me that made me laugh but which was so real, so true. “We all have rough edges, but its only in bumping up against one another that those edges are smoothed out.” That’s what marriage is like. You will bump up against one another and it will hurt, but don’t let that chase you away from one another. Don’t let the answer be the creation of space. You have to allow the bumps to smooth you out, to make you holy. It’s part of the purification process that God allows us to go through. We can’t be afraid of or run away from the purification if we want to get to Heaven.
One more thing: Don’t ever think someone else has it better than you. Everyone carries a heavy cross. you just don’t always see it.