|Starts||Mon 18 May 2020|
|Finishes||Sat 30 May 2020|
|Air & Tour||$5,790* Twin Share per person|
|Single Room||$1,050 Supplement|
|Prepaid Tips||$150 per person|
|Deposit||$800 non-refundable deposit|
|* Prices are based on a minimum group size of 30 paying pilgrims, calculated as at April 2019. Prices remain subject to possible changes in the unlikely event of significant exchange rate variations, airfare increases or minimum group size contingencies.|
Economy Class return airfare from Hobart (N.B. Airlines taxes are included on standard itinerary and subject to fluctuations).
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
TOURING & TRANSPORTATION
Not only is Italy a land of unforgettable charm and beauty, it is 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 sacred towns made famous by St Padre Pio, St Francis, St Catherine and other great historic figures, events and miracles.
Accompanied by Fr Brian Nichols
On arrival at Rome airport we will be met and transferred to our centrally located accommodation for the remainder of the day at leisure.
PAPAL EVENT: Travel to St Peter’s Square this morning for a memorable Papal Audience with Pope Francis as we join with pilgrims from around the world. (Subject to the Pope’s presence in Rome)
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.
Commence our pilgrimage 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.
In the afternoon, 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.
Today we farewell the Eternal City as we commence our day’s journey towards th great shrine dedicated to Padre Pio.
Heading south we firstly wind our way up to the spectacular mountaintop Abbey of Montecassino, founded in 529 by St Benedict, patron saint of Europe and the founder of Western Monasticism. The Abbey was carefully rebuilt after the epic battle of 1944 and still dominates the surrounding countryside from its mountaintop setting. We will have a guided visit on arrival. The Basilica is richly decorated with mosaics. We come as pilgrims to pray before the relics of St Benedict and his sister, St Scholastica. The museum displays examples of medieval monastic art and there may be the opportunity to spend some time here (at own expense).
Departing Montecassino we journey east to Pietrelcina, where St Padre Pio was born on 25 May, 1887. Visit here the room of his birth, the friary and the Church of Our Lady of the Angels.
Continue on to San Giovanni Rotondo where St Padre Pio spent a lifetime of prayer, penance, self-denial and intense pain caused by the five wounds of Our Lord’s passion. His list of supernatural gifts are overwhelming – reading of souls, prophecy, miraculous healings, spiritual direction, etc while spending extraordinarily long hours in the confessional and often sleeping very little. Throughout his life he received visits from Jesus and Mary and had regular communication with his guardian angel.
San Giovanni Rotondo overnight
This morning we take a tour of the shrine including: Tomb and cell of St Padre Pio; his Confessional; and the Crucifix from which he received the stigmata. We visit the English- speaking office for an inspirational talk by one of the friars and to view a special rare film showing highlights of St Padre Pio’s daily life in the Monastery.
Travel by coach in the afternoon to Monte Sant’ Angelo to visit the hilltop Sanctuary of St Michael the Archangel and celebrate Mass in the Grotto Cave. The Archangel is said to have made four separate appearances here mostly during the 5th century, making the sanctuary here one of the earliest Christian sites in Europe and visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. St Francis also visited the sanctuary but feeling unworthy to enter the grotto, stopped in prayer at the entrance, kissed a stone and carved on it the sign of the Tau cross.
San Giovanni Rotondo overnight
After breakfast we depart San Giovanni Rotondo and journey north to Lanciano, scene of the Eucharistic miracle in the 8th century where, during Mass and moments after consecration, the Basilian monk (who doubted the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist) found himself holding a host that had changed to flesh and the wine to blood. To this day the sacred relics have remained incorrupt while recent scientific examinations have confirmed that the “flesh is real flesh, the blood is real blood”. Here we will celebrate a special Mass.
Continue our journey north to the great Marian shrine of Loreto to visit the Holy House of Nazareth and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto. More than 50 Popes have made a pilgrimage to the house transported by angels to a hill in central Italy in 1294.
Tradition has it that this is the house where Mary received the Annunciation, where Jesus grew to manhood and the Holy Family dwelled. A tour of the shrine will be included this afternoon as we share the privilege of an overnight stay within the quaint hilltop village.
Travel west today to Italy’s loveliest medieval city, Siena, birthplace of Saints Catherine and Bernadine. Upon arrival we will visit St Dominic’s Basilica and view the incorrupt head of St Catherine, the mystical bride of Christ. From here we walk through the narrow lanes to the Basilica of St Francis where we will view the Eucharistic miracle of the incorrupt hosts that occurred in 1730, defying all scientific testing. Continue on and stroll the Piazza del Campo, one of Italy’s finest Squares.
After visiting the medieval Cathedral of Siena (1263), dedicated to Holy Mary of the Assumption, we depart Siena and journey through scenic Umbrian countryside to the pilgrimage centre of Assisi, where St Francis tended the poor a founded the Franciscan Order.
On arrival in this medieval hillside town we will proceed to the Upper Town to check in to our hotel.
This morning we awake to the sound of chapel bells, cobblestone footsteps and the tangible spirit of St Francis preserved in this holy town.
After breakfast we enjoy 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. Here too we find the first monastery of the Order of St Clare where Clare built her community in close friendship with Francis.
Culminate up at the Hermitage (Eremo delle Carceri), an oasis of peace and tranquillity in the woods built on the site of a simple cave where St Francis often withdrew to spend many hours in prayer. The cave and the Chapel of Our Lady are preserved in the Hermitage.
We end our tour at the Basilica of St Clare where we will proceed to the side chapel to pray before the 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, partially restored, is displayed.
Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure in this oasis of peace.
An opportunity presents itself before dinner to attend Vespers in the Basilica of St Clare and listen to the angelic voices of the Poor Clare nuns.
Journey north today to Florence, the art capital of the world and home to superb churches, galleries and museums.
Our tour of Florence begins today with Mass at the Church of Santa Croce before continuing to the Academy of Fine Arts containing many treasures, including Michelangelo’s statue of David. We will visit the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo, whose magnificent dome was created by Brunelleschi. Across the way are Ghiberti’s celebrated bronze doors to the Baptistery, so at they are commonly known as ‘The Gates of Paradise’.
After some precious free time we will return to Assisi for our final celebration dinner.
We conclude our time in Assisi’s upper town 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.
Visit then 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.
Transfer to Rome Airp our pilgrimage concludes.
“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”