Shrines of Italy Pilgrimage
Spiritual Director: Fr. Juan Mercado
Group Leaders: Susan & Dody Foster
October 20 – November 02, 2019
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare from Laredo (LRD)
- Airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- Centrally located first class hotels as follows: (or similar)
- ~ 3 nights: Hotel Della Conciliazione , Rome
- ~ 3 nights: Centro di Spiritualita Padre Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo
- ~ 4 nights: Hotel Giotto, Assisi
- ~ 1 nights: Nov 01 – Nov 02: AC Padua, Padua
- 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
- Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
- Lunches, Beverages, Tips to your guide & driver.
Sun, Oct 20: 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, Oct 21: 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, Oct 22: Rome: Vatican Museum & St Peter’s - Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
This morning enjoy breakfast. We will celebrate Mass at 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. At this Basilica, we will have the opportunity to 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 one of the many Vatican Museums. At the world-renowned museum, you will see the most impressive of edifices, galleries, and awe-inspiring relics. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to 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 St. John Paul II. Afterward, enjoy free time for lunch on your own, or to purchase souvenirs from Vatican City. We will continue 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 then make our way to dinner at a local restaurant, and an overnight at your hotel.
Wed, Oct 23: Rome: Papal Audience – Trevi Fountain / Piazza Navona – Basilica of St. John the Lateran and St. Mary Major – Holy Steps
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 Papal Audience, we will make our way to the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain). In the times of Ancient Rome, this fountain served as the terminal point of the Aqua Virgo, the main aqueduct that supplied thermal baths. Following the Trevi Fountain, continue to the beautiful, Piazza Novona. This square was built on the former Stadium of Domitian that held many festivals and sporting events (86 A.D). At the center of this square, stands the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). There are four figures constructed on this fountain that represent four rivers: the Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio de la Plata. Next, you may enjoy free time for lunch, followed by a visit to 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 and celebrate Mass. This Basilica contains a relic from the manger of the Infant Jesus. Following Mass, return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Thu, Oct 24: 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, Oct 25: 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, Oct 26: San Giovanni Rotondo – Free Day
Following breakfast you will have free day in San Giovanni Rotondo for prayer and reflections. Dinner and overnight at your Hotel.
Sun, Oct 27: 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.
Mon, Oct 28: 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.
Tue, Oct 29: Assisi – Cascia – Assisi
Enjoy an early breakfast, followed by a drive through the beautiful Umbrian mountains, to Cascia, the hometown of St. Rita. Celebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Rita of Cascia. After Mass we will visit the Basilica, which houses the bodies of St. Rita and St. Theresa Fasce. You will visit the convent, where the saintly cloistered sisters still live and view St. Rita's holy cell. You will have time for personal prayer and reflection, followed by a walk through the quaint streets of Cascia, full of small specialty shops. Back to our bus to return to Assisi. Enjoy a free afternoon , stroll through the streets of Assisi, or perhaps take some time for personal prayer and reflection at St. Francis Basilica. Dinner and overnight.
Wed. Oct 30: Assisi – Free Day
Following breakfast you will have free day in Assisi for prayers and reflections. Dinner and overnight at your Hotel.
Thu, Nov 01: Assisi - Padua
Breakfast, followed by a scenic drive to the city of Padua that 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 University 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 overnight.
Fri, Nov 02: Return Home
After an early breakfast and heartfelt farewells, transfer to Venice airport for your return flights home.