Shrines of Italy Pilgrimage
Spiritual Director: Fr. Jose Henriquez
February 16 - February 25, 2020
*Optional Tour to Florence and Venice - February 25 - February 29, 2020
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare
- Airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- Centrally located first class hotels as follows: (or similar)
- ~ 3 nights: Feb 17 - 20: Hotel Michelangelo or Della Concliliazione, Rome
- ~ 2 nights: Feb 20 - 22: Centro di Spiritualita Padre Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo
- ~ 3 nights: Feb 22 - 25: Hotel Giotto, Assisi
- Optional Post Tour to Florence & Venice:
- ~ 2 nights: Feb 25 - 27: Machiavelli Palace, Florence
- ~ 2 nights: Feb 27 - 29: Hotel Biri, Padua
- Transfers as per itinerary
- Tour Escort Throughout
- Breakfast and Dinner daily
- Wine with dinners
- Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach
- Wireless headsets where needed
- Assistance of a professional local Christian guide(s)
- Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary
- Mass daily & Spiritual activities
- Luggage handling (1 piece per person)
- Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
- Lunches, Beverages, Tips to your guide & driver, individual transfers.
Sun, Feb 16: Depart for Rome
Make your way to your local airport to board your overnight flight(s). Dinner and breakfast will be served on board.
Mon, Feb 17: Arrival in Rome
Welcome to Rome, also known as, "The Eternal City." Upon arrival at Rome airport, you will collect your luggage in the baggage claim area, and continue to the arrival's hall, where you will be greeted by a tour escort and/or driver. Make your way to the bus and transfer to your hotel. Following check-in, you will have time to explore Rome on your own. Your tour escort may suggest places to visit. Later in the afternoon meet at the hotel lobby, as we will make our way to Church to celebrate Mass, followed by a Welcome Dinner. After dinner, you will have the opportunity to walk to St. Peter's Square for the Rosary (optional).
Tue, Feb 18: 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. After Free time for lunch we will 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. Next, make your way to a local restaurant for dinner. Following dinner, feel free to explore the streets of Rome, or return to the hotel for an overnight.
Wed, Feb 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 first 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, we will walk to visit the Trevi Fountain, where you may enjoy some free time on your own for lunch. 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, you 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 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, you 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 an 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.
Thu, Feb 20: Rome - Montecassino - San Giovanni Rotondo
After breakfast, we will drive via scenic route to Montecassino. Pass 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. We will arrive in Montecassino, the principle monastery of the Benedictine Order, founded by Saint Benedict around 530 A.D. You will have 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, enjoy dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Fri, Feb 21: San Giovanni Rotondo - Monte Sant' Angel (View incorrupt body of Padre Pio)
Today after breakfast we will have Mass at the tomb of St. Pio. After Mass, we will tour the sanctuary, and 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 confessions. Next, we will 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 reflect. Dinner and overnight.
Sat, Feb 22: San Giovanni Rotondo - Lanciano - Loreto - Assisi
After breakfast, you will head to Lanciano. Upon arrival in Lanciano, 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 continuing 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 angels 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.
Sun, Feb 23: Assisi (St. Francis)
This morning, enjoy 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. During the tour, you will have the opportunity to visit the tomb of St. Francis at his Basilica and have the opportunity to view a series of frescoes depicting his life, view a few of the saint's possessions. As the tour continues, visit St. Mary of the Angels Basilica. This Basilica is where St. Francis spent most of life, and is made up of two structures; both of which you will visit. The Porziuncola is where St. Francis founded his order of the Friar Minor (Franciscans), and the Capella del Transito, which is the place of St. Francis' death. During this visit, your group 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. Enjoy free time on your own, you may take this time for additional prayer, or shop in the gift shop. The last stop on your tour will be to 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. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Mon, Feb 24: Assisi - Gubbio - LaVerna - Assisi
After breakfast, we will drive through the beautiful Umbrian mountains to Gubbio. Enjoy this medieval town with a visit of St. Francis Church, were we will be celebrating Mass. After Mass we will visit a town that seems painted onto the hill, a succession of backdrops against which towers and houses stand out, all embraced by walls. The town has been freed by St. Francis from a terrible and fierce wolf who afflicted it. After lunch, on your own, we will continue to La Verna, this is the place where St. Francis, over the years, has been seven times and the last time in 1224 where he received the stigmata. Here you will be able to pray in the Chapel of the Stigmata, the Basilica and the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels. You will also be able to admire the beautiful artworks of Andrea della Robbia. Return to Assisi for dinner and overnight.
Tue, Feb 25: Return Flights Homee
After an early breakfast and heartfelt farewells, we will leave by motor coach and transfer to the Rome Fiumicino airport for return flights home.
About your trip
Rome has been one of history's most powerful and important cities, along with home to the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, and the site of the Vatican City. First built in 337, St. Peter's Basilica lies over the tomb of St. Peter. Contained within is a vast array of the most beautiful artwork ever assembled, reflecting the immensity, beauty, vastness, majesty, glory and awesomeness of God.