In Celebration of Dcn. John Hunt’s
25th Anniversary of Diaconate Ordination
All Italian Shrines Pilgrimage
September 17 - 30, 2023
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare from Boston (BOS)
- Airport Taxes and Fuel Surcharges
- Centrally located first class Hotels as follows or similar
- Centrally located hotels: (or similar)
- ~ 2 nights: Sep 21 – 23 | Centro di Spiritualita Padre Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo
- ~ 3 nights: Sep 23 – 26 | Giotto, Assisi
- ~ 2 nights: Sep 26 – 28 | Starhotels Tuscany, Florence
- ~ 2 nights: Sep 28 – 30 | Hotel NH Padua, 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 Catholic guide(s)
- Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary
- Mass daily & Spiritual activities
- Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
- Meals and beverages not mentioned, Tips to your guide & driver, Individual transfers
Day 1, Sun, Sep 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.
Day 2, Mon, Sep 18: 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 arrivals 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 the Mass, followed by a Welcome Dinner. After dinner, you will have the opportunity to walk to St. Peter’s Square for the Rosary (optional).
Day 3, Tue, Sep 19: Rome: St. Peter's Basilica - Vatican Museum - 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 Christen-dom 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.
Day 4, Wed, Sep 20: Rome: Papal Audience - Trevi Fountain - Basilica of St. John the Lateran - Holy Stairs - Basilica of St. Mary Major
We begin 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 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. Next, you will cross the street to visit the Holy Stairs. These Holy Stairs are the very steps leading up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem on which Jesus stepped on his way to trial during his Passion. The Stairs were brought to Rome by Saint Helena in the fourth century. Ascending these stairs on your knees, in memory of Christ's agonizing Passion. We conclude your day, with a Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Church dedicated to Our Blessed Mother, St. Mary Major reigns as the only Basilica that has kept its original structure and is an authentic jewel in the crown of Roman Churches. This Basilica con-tains a relic from the Manger of the Infant Jesus. Return to the hotel for dinner and an over-night.
Day 5, Thu, Sep 21: Rome – Montecassino – San Giovanni Rotondo
After breakfast, we will drive via scenic route to Montecassino. Pass through the Roman coun-tryside 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.
Day 6, Fri, Sep 22: San Giovanni Rotondo (View incorrupt body of Padre Pio) - Monte Sant’ Angel
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 confes-sional 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.
Day 7, Sat, Sep 23: 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 Lancia-no, 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 man-hood, 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.
Day 8, Sun, Sep 24: Assisi (The Life of a Saint, that inspired a Holy Father)
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 hum-ble 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.
Day 9, Mon, Sep 25: 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.
Day 10, Tue, Sep 26: Assisi - Siena - Florence
Breakfast, followed by a scenic drive to the Tuscan city of Siena. This medieval city is the birth-place of St. Catherine "Doctor of the Church", and the Apostle of Italy, St. Bernardine. Visit of 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, visit the Shrine of St. Catherine, which occupies the site of her family home. Enjoy your walking tour through the Siena including a visit to its Cathedral (Duomo di Siena). 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 sur-rounding the square to have lunch, as well as shops for gifts and souvenirs. Continue on to Florence. Upon arrival in Florence, you will notice immediately that it is the land for art lovers. Some of the most world renowned artists are from Florence such as, Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Donatello, and many others. For the remainder of the after-noon, you will have the opportunity to explore the streets of Florence at leisure. In the evening gather for dinner, followed by an overnight.
Day 11, Wed, Sep 27: Florence
In Florence, your day begins with breakfast, followed by a guided tour. The tour starts at the Church of the Holy Cross, the Santa Croce, where many nobles are buried, such as Michelange-lo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. Continue to walk by Piazza Signorina, Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, and Republic Square to the Santa Maria del Fiore. This Cathedral is an iconic piece of architecture of the city of Florence. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in the 13th century. Next, a visit to L'Accademia, the well-known art gallery. At this gallery, you will have the oppor-tunity to view the work from artists such as Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pontormo and the ever famous sculpture by Michelangelo, David. This afternoon you will have time to explore Florence on your own. Return to hotel for dinner and an overnight.
Day 12, Thu, Sep 28: Florence – Padua
Following breakfast at your hotel, board the motor coach for your transfer to Padua. This North-ern Italian city honors the "Patron Saint of Lost Things and Causes", St. Anthony. You will begin a sightseeing tour of the city, including a view of one of the oldest Universities in Italy, the Univer-sity of Padua, as well as the Basilica of Santa Giustina, the "Patron Saint of Padua." The tour will conclude at the Basilica of St. Anthony, where you will have the opportunity to visit his tomb. Return to the hotel for dinner and an overnight.
Day 13, Fri, Sep 29: Padua - Venice (Full Day Excursion)
Today, you will have early breakfast and then board your bus to depart to the magical city of Venice. After Mass, enjoy a tour of the "city paved with water!" Your walking tour includes a visit to St. Mark's Square, the largest square in the city and the site of many government build-ings; the Golden Basilica of San Marco, known for the great mosaics that depict the Old and New Testament of the Bible; the Bridge of Sigh, a bridge that will bring eternal love to those who drift below it. You will also have the chance to view the Doges' Palace (Duke's Palace), which served as the seat of the Government for the Republic of Venice for centuries. Return to Padua for dinner and an overnight.
Day 14, Sat, Sep 30: Return to U.S.
After an early breakfast and heartfelt farewells, transfer to Venice airport for return flights home.