Graces of France and Italy Pilgrimage – Harvest Journeys Catholic Pilgrimages

St. Therese Parish, Denistone

Graces of France and Italy Pilgrimage

Journey through mountainous villages and holy shrines touched by a profound grace of Mary and some of the Church’s greatest Saints. From Lourdes to Lisieux, we weave a pilgrim trail through the glorious countryside and most sacred regions of France. We then journey to Italy, a land of unforgettable charm and beauty and also a land made rich in grace by its colourful history of holy men and women. Follow their paths etched into our faith heritage from the great Christian centre of Rome to the sacred town of Assisi made famous by St Francis and St Clare.

Itinerary

Barcelona (1 night) / Montserrat / Lourdes (3 nights) / Paris (3 nights) / Rouen / Lisieux (2 nights) / Mont-Saint-Michel (2 nights) / Rome (3 nights) / Assisi (1 night)

  • 19 Days / 15 Nights
  • Barcelona to Assisi
  • Accompanied by Fr Simon Apablaza
  • Daily Mass

Itinerary

Meal Code: (B) = Breakfast (L) = Lunch (D) = Dinner

DAY 1WEDNESDAY 04 SEPTEMBER 2024 - DEPART AUSTRALIA

DAY 2THURSDAY 05 SEPTEMBER - ARRIVE BARCELONA

Welcome to Barcelona. Join with fellow pilgrims this evening to celebrate our first Mass before dinner.

Barcelona overnight (D)

DAY 3FRIDAY 06 SEPTEMBER - BARCELONA VIA MONTSERRAT TO LOURDES

Our day of pilgrimage begins with a journey to stunning Montserrat. The renowned 11th century sanctuary of Our Lady of Montserrat lies at the top of a 4,000-foot-high mountain and is one of Spain’s most popular pilgrimage destinations. The shrine is home to a 12th century miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, lovingly known as the “Black Madonna”, discovered in the Santa Cova or Holy Cave. Here at Montserrat St Ignatius kept vigil with a coarse sackcloth and a pilgrim staff.

Upon arrival, we will visit and have Mass in the Basilica, the construction of which began in the 16th century, and a viewing of the beautiful Holy Image of Our Lady of Montserrat, known affectionately as the “Black Madonna.”

We will then board the Santa Cova funicular railway and after a short ride, enjoy a walk down the sacred path passing modernist sculptures of the Mysteries of the Rosary (all worked on by Llimona and Gaudi among others). Almost hanging from the rock’s edge at the end of the route is the Chapel where the image of Our Lady of Montserrat was found by young shepherds in the 13th century after seeing a bright light which led them to the grotto. We take time here at the Holy Cave for prayer and reflection before taking the funicular railway back up to the Sanctuary.

We then farewell Montserrat and travel through the scenic foothills of the Pyrenees, crossing into Southern France before continuing to Lourdes. It was in this small town that Our Lady first appeared to St Bernadette in 1858.

Lourdes overnight (BD)

DAY 4SATURDAY 07 SEPTEMBER - LOURDES

This morning we will celebrate a group Mass at the Grotto before meeting our guide for a walking tour of Lourdes including the Sanctuary area: Upper & Lower Basilicas, the Grotto, the Baths where hundreds of miraculous cures have taken place.

Continue our visit of the main sites associated with St Bernadette including the Boly Mill where she was born in 1844, the original parish church and the Cachot (prison) where the family were forced to live due to misfortune during the time of the apparitions.

Free time this afternoon for a visit and prayers for the sick at the Baths where you may choose to submerge yourself in the healing waters. During her ninth apparition to Bernadette, Our Lady said “Go drink and wash yourself at the spring”. Optional afternoon Blessed Sacrament Procession and Blessing of the Sick before an evening Torchlight Procession after dinner.

Lourdes overnight (BD)

DAY 5SUNDAY 08 SEPTEMBER - LOURDES (Feast Day of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

On this special feast day, we celebrate an International Mass (date permitting) this morning with pilgrims worldwide in the immense Underground Basilica of Pius X followed by a visit to Bartres, the farm where St Bernadette was nursed and later returned in adolescence to help her foster mother. We will visit the Sheepfold and the Parish Church where she spent so many hours in prayer.

We will return to Lourdes after a visit to the Lake for lunch (at own expense).

Enjoy a peaceful afternoon to rest or wander at your own pace or take the time to pray the life-sized copper Stations of the Cross overlooking the holy Grotto.

Optional Blessed Sacrament Procession and evening Torchlight Procession.

Lourdes overnight (BD)

DAY 6MONDAY 09 SEPTEMBER - LOURDES TO PARIS (TGV TRAIN)

Today we farewell Lourdes and board our TGV fast train service to Paris. Travelling through the scenic French countryside, we arrive into Paris, we will be transferred to our hotel, with the remainder of the day a leisure.

Paris overnight (BD)

DAY 7TUESDAY 10 SEPTEMBER - PARIS

This morning, we will visit and celebrate Mass in the Sacre Coeur built from 1875 to 1914, and one of the most imposing Basilicas in the Christian tradition, and Church of St Pierre du Montmartre, the second oldest surviving church in Paris.

We will visit the Daughters of Charity in the Rue du Bac. This is the site where Our Lady appeared to Catherine Laboure in 1830, with the first Miraculous Medal being struck in 1832.  Her incorrupt body lies under the altar of Our Lady in the chapel here and adjacent to the altar of St Vincent de Paul displaying his incorrupt heart. 

Finally, we stroll to the nearby Vincentian Fathers to pray in the chapel housing the bones of St Vincent de Paul.

The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Paris overnight (BD)

DAY 8WEDNESDAY 11 SEPTEMBER - PARIS

Commence our sightseeing tour of Paris including a visit to the Eiffel Tower, viewing the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees, Le Sainte-Chapelle, and a special visit to the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

The remainder of the day at leisure.

Paris overnight (BD)

DAY 9THURSDAY 12 SEPTEMBER - PARIS TO LISIEUX

After breakfast we travel to Rouen where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in the marketplace on 30 May 1431.  We will celebrate Mass here at Rouen Cathedral and reflect upon her faith and courage before continuing to Lisieux, one of the world’s premier pilgrimage sites and home to St Therese, the ‘Little Flower’, whom Pope Pius X called ‘the greatest saint of modern times’.

Lisieux overnight (BD)

DAY 10FRIDAY 13 SEPTEMBER - LISIEUX

We set off today for a half day pilgrimage tour of Lisieux visiting the family home of Les Buissonets, the Carmelite Convent Chapel with its reliquary of the saint and St Therese’s Basilica.

Mass should be celebrated in the Crypt of the Basilica before an afternoon of rest and reflection wandering the shrine and the township.

Lisieux overnight (BD)

DAY 11SATURDAY 14 SEPTEMBER - LISIEUX TO MONT-SAINT-MICHEL

We depart Lisieux, travelling on to the lovely island of Mont-Saint-Michel. According to legend, the archangel Michael appeared to St Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, in 709 and instructed him to build a chapel on the rocky islet.

Soon after, he sent a group of monks to live on the island (since replaced in 966 by the Benedictine Order who soon after constructed the Abbey). From the Middle Ages people have flocked to the abbey and were so struck by its beauty that they called this place “The Wonder Island”. Today it continues to be a major cultural and pilgrimage centre.

Mont-Saint-Michel overnight (BD)

DAY 12SUNDAY 15 SEPTEMBER - MONT-SAINT-MICHEL

What looks like a castle out of a fairy tale is actually one of Christianity’s major pilgrimage sites. Surging from an infinite expanse of sand and waves, Mont-Saint-Michel is a marvellous work of both nature and mankind. In 1979 it was the first location in France to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today more than two million pilgrims and visitors travel to behold this awesome work of the Middle Ages, the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel.

This morning we will meet our guide for a tour of the island.

A climb up the steep narrow flight of steps called the Grand Degré is a prelude to the tour of the abbey. Once we have admired the construction, we can contemplate the incomparable beauty of the bay by going back down via the rampart walk.

A highlight of our visit here will be the Benedictine Abbey, which during the French Revolution was turned into a prison. We plan to join the community here for an inspiring chanted Mass. During our tour we will also see the Chapelle de Notre Dame sous Terre (Underground Chapel of Our Lady). It was built in the late 10th century in the very place that St Aubert erected the oratory in the 8th century

Enjoy some free time this afternoon.

Mont-Saint-Michel overnight (BD)

DAY 13MONDAY 16 SEPTEMBER - MONT-SAINT-MICHEL TO ROME

This morning we depart Mont Saint Michel and travel to the airport for flight connections to Rome.

Upon arrival, we will enjoy an orientation drive through Rome to our place of accommodation.

Before dinner, we shall celebrate our first group Mass together in the Eternal City, rich in the traditions of our Church.

Rome overnight (BD)

DAY 14TUESDAY 17 SEPTEMBER - ROME PILGRIMAGE

We start our pilgrimage this morning with a spectacular Mass at St Peter’s Basilica before coming to the nearby Vatican Museums. Wander the spectacular chambers leading to the Sistine Chapel to view Michelangelo’s masterpieces, including the magnificent fresco of the Last Judgment. Continue through to the awe-inspiring St Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world for an informative exploration.

Our guided tour will feature among other highlights Michelangelo’s stunning Pieta, the tomb of Pope St John Paul II, the great Confessional and the Crypt containing the tombs of several Popes.

Continuing on we visit the impressive St Mary Major Basilica. Onwards to the Basilica of St John in Lateran (First Papal residence) and the adjacent Holy Stairs brought from Jerusalem to Rome in 326AD by St Helena (as a favourite of pilgrims, these steps may only be ascended on the knees). Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme with its extraordinary collection of relics from the Holy Land.

Enjoy a special dinner tonight at L’Eau Vive Restaurant – Meaning Living Water (from the Biblical scene of Jacobs Well). This fabulous French Restaurant is run by Carmelite Missionary Nuns who will sing the Ave Maria to us between courses!

Rome overnight (BD)

DAY 15WEDNESDAY 18 SEPTEMBER - ROME PILGRIMAGE

This morning we enter into the most visited attraction in Rome – the Colosseum. In 1749, Pope Benedict XIV declared the Colosseum a sacred site, as it was a place where early Christians had been martyred. View also the Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum en route.

Journey this afternoon out to the majestic Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. Originally consecrated in 324, the saint’s tomb is visible now under the Papal Altar. We will celebrate a wonderful Mass here as a special tribute to the Church’s greatest evangelist.

Continue then to the ancient Catacombs for a memorable guided tour to marvel at these underground burial tunnels for Christians and Hebrews. Return to our hotel for some free time.

This evening we will set out early to the lively Trastevere district and visit the lovely Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. Stroll on to enjoy a wonderful Italian evening of food and traditional music at the infamous Da Meo Patacca restaurant.

Rome overnight (BD)

DAY 16THURSDAY 19 SEPTEMBER - ROME TO ASSISI

Today we journey north through Umbrian countryside to Assisi where St Francis tended the poor and sick and founded the Franciscan Order.

On arrival in this medieval hillside town, we will visit the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels down on the plains where St Francis spent most of his life. Here we will see the Portiuncula (meaning ‘small portion of land’) where St Francis returned for prayer, the thornless rose bush, and the chapel where he died in 1226. On Palm Sunday 1211, Francis received in this church Clare of Assisi and dedicated her to the Lord.

Onwards to the Upper Town for a guided tour through some of the town’s highlights including: the tranquil Church of San Damiano and the actual chapel where it all began when the voice of Christ spoke to Francis in the year 1205 (some may prefer to approach by foot down the hillside path in the spirit of St Francis). Adjacent to the chapel we find the first monastery of the Order of St Clare where Clare built her community in close friendship with Francis. Here we will celebrate Mass.

We then stop at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore – Sanctuary of the Spogliazione where we are blessed with the opportunity to visit and pray at the tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis – a young Catholic from Italy with a passionate devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and an aptitude for computer programming. From the ages of 12 to 14, he designed a website cataloguing Eucharistic miracles that have occurred around the world, which he launched in 2005. He died of leukemia a year later at the age of 15, offering his suffering for the pope and for the Church.

Our day concludes with a visit to the Basilica of St Clare where we will proceed to the side chapel and pray before the relocated Holy Crucifix from which God spoke to Francis “Go and repair my Church which as you see is in ruins”. Here too we can also take the stairway down to the crypt where the body of Clare is on display.

Assisi overnight (BD)

DAY 17FRIDAY 20 SEPTEMBER - DEPART ASSISI

We conclude our time in Assisi with Mass and a guided exploration of the buzzing Basilica of St Francis which occupies the entire western end of the upper town. Construction began in 1228, just two years after the death of Francis and was finally completed in 1250. The Upper Basilica houses the famous fresco cycle of the life of St Francis, historically attributed to Giotto.

Wander through the marvels of the Upper Basilica before our tour descends to the crypt of the Lower Basilica where Francis was laid in 1230 and where we will take some time to seek the intercession of this spiritual legend.

We will then be transferred in the afternoon to the airport for our homebound flight connections.

(B)

DAY 18SATURDAY 21 SEPTEMBER - IN TRANSIT

DAY 19SUNDAY 22 SEPTEMBER - ARRIVE HOME (AM)

Chaplain

Fr Simon Apablaza

Father Simon Apablaza’s journey of faith began in Santiago, Chile, where he embarked on a mission to discern his vocation at the age of 19. In 2002, he answered the call to serve in Sydney Australia, seeking formation as a missionary priest.

After nine years of dedicated preparation, Father Simon was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Pell. He has served in various parishes, including Maroubra, Earlwood, and Caringbah.

His most significant tenure was in the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, where he spent 8 and a half years serving in the Cathedral of Broken Hill and the parish of Forbes. During his time there, he took on roles such as dean of the central deanery, member of the college of consultors, and chancellor of the diocese in his final year (among other roles)

In July 2023, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney invited Father Simon to return to the diocese, where he now serves in the parish of Denistone. He continues his ministry with humility and dedication, participating in the pilgrimage to seek the intercession of St. Therese for his parishioners.

Dates & Prices

TOUR DETAILS
Tour Code PV2450
Starts Wednesday, 04 September 2024
Finishes Saturday, 22 September 2024
Air & Land Cost AUD $10,990* Twin Share
Single Room AUD $2,390 Supplement
Prepaid Tips $225 Per Person
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* Costs are based on prices as at March 2024 and must remain subject to possible change in the event of significant exchange rate variations, airfares, hotel changes or minimum group size factors beyond Harvest’s control. Refer to Harvest Terms & Conditions for more details.

INCLUSIONS

Airfares: Return Economy Class airfare from Sydney • One-way Economy Class airfare Paris-Rome.

Accommodation & Meals: Based on 3 & 4-star hotel accommodation standard • Breakfasts & dinners daily.

Touring & Transportation: Deluxe air-conditioned touring coach • Lourdes to Paris TGV train • Professional English-speaking Tour Escort • Professional English-speaking local guides • Sightseeing and entrance fees.

Miscellaneous Inclusions: Fully escorted by Fr Simon Apablaza – parish priest of St Therese, Denistone • Harvest Travel Pack: backpack, travel wallet, pilgrim’s journal and sunbrella

  • “Words simply cannot describe the pilgrimage – you just have to go and experience it for yourself.”

    Anne Burrows-Jung
    Saints of France
  • A great deepening of faith, seeing and hearing of the lives of the saints and celebrating Mass in many special places”

    Stella Teg
    Saints of France

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NZ: 0800 819 156


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