Pilgrimage to Italy
Spiritual Director: Fr. Michael Gazzingan
Group Coordinator: Lyra Maceda
September 17 - 27, 2018
*Optional Post-Tour to Florence, Venice & Padua - September 27 - October 1, 2018
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare
- All airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- Centrally located hotels: (or similar)
- ~ 3 nights: Sep 21 - 24: Hotel Centro di Spiritualita Padre Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo
- Optional Post Tour to Florence, Padua and Venice
- ~ 2 nights: Sep 27 - 29: Mediterraneo, Florence
- ~ 2 nights: Sep 29 - Oct 1: NH Padova, Padua
- Tour Escort throughout
- Breakfast and dinner daily
- Transfer by private motor coach
- Sightseeing as per itinerary
- Entrance fees
- Mass daily & spiritual activities
- Luggage handling (one piece per person)
- Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
- Lunches, Beverages not mentioned, Tips to your guide & driver.
Monday, September 17: Depart for Rome
Make your way to your local airport, where you will board your overnight flight (s). Your meals will be served on board.
Tuesday, September 18: Arrival in Rome
Welcome to Rome, also known as, "The Eternal City." Upon arrival at Rome airport, collect your luggage in the baggage claim area, and continue to the arrivals hall, where you will be greeted by a tour escort and/or driver. You will make your way to the bus and transfer to your hotel. Following check-in, you will have free time to unpack and relax, or explore Rome on your own. Your tour escort may suggest places to visit. Later in the afternoon, your group will meet in the hotel lobby for a "Meet and Greet" with your fellow pilgrims and depart for Mass. Following Mass, you will attend a welcome dinner. After dinner, you will have the opportunity to walk to St. Peter's Square as a group, for the Rosary (optional).
Wednesday, September 19: Rome: Papal Audience - Basilica of St. John the Lateran - Holy Steps - Basilica of St. Mary Major
After a nice breakfast at your hotel, your sightseeing day in Rome starts! The tour begins with the Papal Audience in St. Peter's Square! The Audience is celebrated each Wednesday by His Holiness, Pope Francis (pending the papal schedule). Following the Audience, there will be free time for lunch, or shop, or mail a postcard from the Vatican Post Office. This afternoon you will visit the oldest of the four major basilicas in Rome, and the home to the relics of Peter and Paul, the Basilica of St. John the Lateran. This Basilica is where Pope Francis was installed as Bishop of Rome, and where he officiates as the Bishop of Rome. Next, we will cross the street to visit the Holy Staircase. Tradition states that this staircase is from Pontius Pilate's palace of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. It is also said that this Staircase was brought to Rome by St. Helen in the 4th century. If time permits, you may climb the steps on your knees, in memory of Christ's agonizing Passion. To conclude your day, we will proceed to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. This Basilica contains a relic from the Manger of the Infant Jesus. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
*The Scala Santa is currently under restoration. Thus, the Vatican has displayed an image replicating the stairs in front of the entrance where you will walk in. There are several staircases just to the side of the Scala Santa that you may ascend on your knees. You will still be able to receive the same graces and indulgences by going up any of the alternative stairs.
*Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Stigmata (received by St. Pio) On today's date in 1968, St. Padre Pio celebrated Mass, attended the public recitation of the Rosary, and the Benediction.
Thursday, September 20: Rome: St. Peter's Basilica - Vatican Museum - Trevi Fountain - Appian Way - Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls - Catacombs
This morning you will enjoy an early breakfast before making your way to the largest Christendom Church, St. Peter's Basilica. This Basilica was built on the site where St. Peter, the first Pope and Bishop of Rome, was martyred. Also, it was Our Holy Father, Pope Francis who was the first Pontiff to visit the necropolis since extensive archaeological excavations were conducted at the ancient site decades ago. It is here that you will view Michelangelo's Pieta. This stunning marble sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary holding Christ after His crucifixion, death, and removal off the cross before being placed in the tomb. Continue to proceed to the Vatican Museums. At the world-renowned museum, you will see the most impressive of edifices, galleries, and awe-inspiring relics. Additionally, you will observe the Tapestry Gallery, Raphael Rooms, Sistine Chapel, and Michelangelo's Masterpiece, the restored mural of the Last Judgment. The final stop on your Vatican tour is at the tomb of Saint John Paul II. Afterward, you will be transferred to the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), where you may enjoy some free time on your own for lunch. Continue on your short journey down the Appian Way, the earliest road of Ancient Rome. This road leads to the Domino Quo Vadis Chapel, the Baths of Caracalla, the Arch of Drusus, the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, and the catacombs of St. Callixtus. The day concludes with a visit to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Originally founded by Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century, this Basilica is the burial places of Saint Paul the Apostle. We will make our way to a local restaurant for dinner. Following dinner, feel free to explore the streets of Rome, or return to the hotel for overnight.
Friday, September 21: Rome - Monte Cassino - San Giovanni Rotondo
Following breakfast, you will board your bus to enjoy the scenic route to Montecassino. Passing through the Roman countryside that is known for its villas and vineyards. During the bus ride, your tour escort will share interesting information regarding the spiritual, historical, and cultural aspects of Italy. Montecassino, the principle monastery of the Benedictine Order, was founded by Saint Benedict around 530 A.D. Following the tour, there will be an opportunity to visit the gift shop, before we board the bus to continue toward San Giovanni Rotondo, the hometown of Saint Padre Pio. Upon arrival in San Giovanni Rotondo, you will check-in, enjoy dinner in the restaurant, and overnight.
Saturday, September 22: San Giovanni Rotondo
*Today, St. Padre Pio celebrated his last Mass
This morning, after breakfast we will visit the Old Church. After Mass we will tour the sanctuary, it is here you will view the crucifix, in front of which St. Pio received the stigmata. Visit the confessional from where St. Pio spent an innumerable amount of hours listening to confession. You will have the remainder of the day free to spend at your own leisure, and relax back at your Hotel room.
Today marks the last time St. Pio celebrated Mass. Just after midnight (in the early hours of September 23rd) St. Padre Pio call his Superior and asked to make his confession. He then renewed his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. At 2:30 A.M., St. Pio passed away. As he foretold, he "Lived Sick, but Died Healthy", with the stigmata healing. We will gather for dinner, have a little free time, and then make our way to the Pilgrimage Church of St. Pio. At midnight, we will join pilgrims from all over the world, as we celebrate Holy Mass of the Feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Mass is led by the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, followed by a procession with a statue of Saint Pio and his relics. The procession concludes at 2:30 A.M., marking the time St. Pio passed away. Return to your Hotel for a restful nights sleep.
Sunday, September 23: San Giovanni Rotondo (View Incorrupt Body of St. Padre Pio) - Monte Sant' Angelo
*50th Anniversary of the Feast of St. Padre Pio
At noon, you will meet in the lobby where you will receive a Boxed Breakfast, board the bus and travel along the beautiful Gargano Peninsula to the Grotto of St. Michael the Archangel, a shrine consecrated by St. Michael. At this grotto, St. Michael appeared to a Bishop to assure him that his diocese would not be annihilated as he feared. Following the visit to the grotto, enjoy free time. On the way back to San Giovanni Rotondo view breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding countryside. Upon arrival you will have time for devotion and reflection. Dinner and overnight.
*Candlelight Procession - After dinner, at 9:00 P.M., we will attend the weekly Candlelight Procession at the Sanctuary of St. Pio. These processions are lit by candlelight, and are guided by the Most Holy Rosary. Following this prayerful experience, you will return to your hotel for a restful overnight.
Monday, September 24: San Giovanni Rotondo - Lanciano - Loreto - Assisi
After breakfast, we will head to Lanciano. Upon arrival in Lanciano, we will celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Longinus. This Church is the site of the Eucharistic Miracle that occurred in the eighth century. At the time of the Miracle, there was a Basilian monk who struggled with the belief in the real presence of The Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. During the time of Mass, the monk, with doubt in his voice, said the "Words of Consecration" and the bread turned into living flesh, and the wine transformed into live blood. There will be some free time to explore Lanciano, before continue toward the Adriatic coast to the great Marian shrine of Loreto to visit the Holy House of Nazareth, and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto. More than 50 Pope's have made a pilgrimage to the house transported by angles to this hill in central Italy, in 1294. Tradition has it that this is the house in which Mary first prayed the Magnificat, in which Jesus grew to manhood, and in which the Holy Family lived. Continue on to Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis. Upon arrival in Assisi, you will enjoy dinner, before retiring to your room for a restful night's sleep.
Tuesday, September 25: Assisi (The Life of a Saint, that inspired a Holy Father)
Enjoy an early breakfast, followed by a full day of touring the hometown of St. Francis. St. Francis is the "Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment." Additionally, he is responsible for founding the Franciscan Order, and the inspiration for our Holy Father, Pope Francis. He chose his name in admiration of the Saint of Nature, and Servant to the Poor. Known for being a humble man himself, Pope Francis spent most of his life denying the luxuries of life. He preferred to live in simplicity and humility, while giving up all other worldly possessions, just as St. Francis did. As we visit the birthplace of St. Francis, you will become captivated as the atmosphere has not changed since St. Francis began his ministry, in the early 13th-century. We will start our tour at the St. Francis Basilica, visit his tomb of St. Francis, and have the opportunity to view a series of frescoes depicting his life, along with a few of the saint's possessions. From there, we will continue on a walking tour through this picturesque town, including the birthplace of St. Francis, and ending with a tour of the Church that honors St. Clare, the foundress of the Poor Clare Sisters. This Saint followed the teachings of St. Francis very closely by also living a life of poverty and humility. Enjoy some free time on your own - you may take this time for additional prayer, shop in the many gift shops or enjoy a nice lunch. After lunch, we will board the bus, which will take us outside of the walls of Assisi, to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. This is where St. Francis spent most of life. This Basilica is made up of two structures, both of which you will visit. The first structure, is the "Porziuncola", which is where St. Francis founded his order of the Friar Minor (Franciscans). The second, is the "Capella del Transito", which is the place of St. Francis' death. During your time here, you will have the opportunity to visit the beautiful Rose Garden where St. Francis and other friars lived, as well as the cave where the Saint retired to pray. Return to Hotel got dinner and overnight.
*Today, over 100,000 people gathered in San Giovanni Rotondo to pay their respects to this Holy man - St. Pio, Pray For Us!
Wednesday, September 26: Assisi - Siena - Assisi
This morning enjoy breakfast, followed by a scenic drive to the Tuscan city of Siena. This medieval city is the birthplace of St. Catherine "Doctor of the Church", and the Apostle of Italy, St. Bernardine. We will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Catherine (which is also known as the Basilica of St. Domenico). St. Catherine passed a large part of her life inside the walls of this Basilica. It is here you will also view the incorrupt head of St. Catherine. After, we will visit the Shrine of St. Catherine, which occupies the site of her family home. Enjoy our walking tour through the Siena including a visit to its Cathedral (Duomo di Siena). We will conclude at one of Italy's finest squares, the Piazza Del Campo, where you will be given free time to spend at your own leisure. There are a number of restaurants surrounding the square to have lunch, as well as shops for gifts and souvenirs. Return to Assisi for dinner and overnight.
Thursday, September 27: Assisi - Rome Airport - USA
After an early breakfast and heartfelt farewells, we will leave by motor coach and transfer to Rome Fiumicino airport for return flights home.*206 Tours Disclaimer:
Though every effort will be made to follow the itinerary, it should be considered as an indication, rather than a contract of places to be visited. Occasionally local religious holidays, national days, weather, traffic conditions and other events may necessitate changes in the sequence of visits or the missing of certain visits.