An 11-day Pilgrimage to Italy

 

Italy Pilgrimage Sites, Including:

Orvieto, Siena, Assisi, Macerata, Loreto, Lanciano, San Giovanni Rotondo, Monte Sant’Angelo, Monte Cassino, Rome & the Vatican

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Day 1 Monday
USA / ROME
Today we depart the United States on our flight to Rome, Italy. Meals are served on board our transatlantic flight.

Day 2 Tuesday
ROME / ORVIETO / BOLSENA / SIENA
Upon our arrival in Rome, we depart north through the Umbrian hills to Orvieto to visit the site of the Eucharistic miracle, including the Blood Stained Stones and the Sanctuary of St. Cristina in nearby Bolsena. We celebrate Mass at the Cathedral with its beautiful marble facade, in the Piazza del Duomo amidst dazzling spires, mosaics and sculptures. The impressive structure took over thirty architects, 90 mosaic artisans and 152 sculptors to bring to its current splendor. Continuing along the Via del Duomo we visit the Palace of the Popes and the National Archaeological Museum in the Palazzo Soliano. We continue on to the beautiful, medieval town of Siena for dinner and overnight.

Day 3 Wednesday
SIENA / ASSISI
This morning we awaken in the quiet hometown of St. Catherine. We visit the historic center of Siena, second only to Florence in its contribution to the Renaissance. We also visit the Sanctuary of Santa Maria in Provenzano and the see the Cross from which St. Catherine received the stigmata. We celebrate Mass in the magnificent dark-green and white striped Cathedral. We depart Siena for Assisi. Upon our arrival in Assisi we visit the Basilica of St. Clare, Francis’ friend and foundress of the Poor Clare nuns, and see the crucifix that spoke to St. Francis in San Damiano. We go to San Damiano to pray in the place where Francis wrote the Canticle of the Sun. Then we visit the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli built to enclose the tiny Church of the Porziuncola, St. Francis first retreat and place of prayer and where he consecrated Clare as the Bride of Christ. Dinner and overnight in Assisi.

Day 4 Thursday
ASSISI / MACERATA / LORETO
This morning we visit the Basilica of St. Clare, Francis’ friend and foundress of the Poor Clare nuns, and see the crucifix that spoke to St. Francis in San Damiano. We go to San Damiano to pray in the place where Francis wrote the Canticle of the Sun. Then we visit the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli built to enclose the tiny Church of the Porziuncola, St. Francis first retreat and place of prayer and where he consecrated Clare as the Bride of Christ. Here we celebrate Mass. In the afternoon, we depart for Loreto, first making a stop to visit Macerata where we pray at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, scene of a Eucharistic miracle, where in the 14th century, a priest torn by the doubt that Christ was really present in the Eucharist, saw the host bleed into the chalice and some of the blood spilled onto the corporal. We continue on to Loreto for dinner and overnight.

Day 5 Friday
LORETO / LANCIANO / SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO
This morning we awake in Loreto, one of Italys leading pilgrimage sites, where local tradition says angels moved the house that had been the Holy Family’s home in Nazareth. Here we visit the Sanctuary of the Holy House and its grounds. Late morning we depart for Lanciano where another priest, much like the priest in Macerata, was doubtful about the Real Presence. During his celebration of Mass, the host turned into flesh and the wine into blood. We too will celebrate Mass here before departing for our drive along the Adriatic coast of Italy, next arriving in San Giovanni Rotondo, the home to Blessed Padre Pio, who was made a saint in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. Dinner and overnight in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Day 6 Saturday
SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO / MONTE SANT’ANGELO
This morning we awake in one of the most renowned pilgrimage destinations in Europe because of the extraordinary life and reputation for sanctity of the Franciscan Padre Pio da Pietralcina, who lived, labored, and in 1968 died here. We have Mass in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie where Padre Pio lived and afterwards hear about his life and works from the Franciscan friars, then visit the institutions he helped to build. Next we go to nearby Monte SantAngelo, one of the most ancient of Christian shrines, dedicated to the Archangel Michael who appeared here in the 5th and 8th centuries. We return to San Giovanni Rotondo for dinner and overnight.

Day 7 Sunday
SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO / MONTE CASSINO / ROME
This morning we depart for Rome with a stop in Monte Cassino to visit the Benedictine Abbey set high atop a mountain. The abbey was founded by Saint Benedict of Norcia in the 6th century. St. Benedict established his first monastic community here. The abbey has been destroyed four times, most recently in World War II, but still serves as home to the Benedictines. Next we arrive in Rome and enter the Eternal City where we visit the first of Rome’s four major basilicas, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, where the Apostle is buried. Here we tour the grounds of this wonderful basilica as well as celebrate Mass. Following Mass, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city with a drive to Palatine and Capitoline Hills including the Imperial and Roman Forums, the Hippodrome and Constantine’s Arch. We stop for awhile outside the Colosseum, a good opportunity for a snapshot. Next we check into our hotel and following dinner, we have an evening out when we will enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour of “illuminated Rome by night?, culminating with a stop for a short walk to the world-famous Trevi Fountain. We return to our hotel for overnight in Rome.

Day 8 Monday
ROME
This morning we visit another of Rome’s major basilicas, St. Mary Major, the most important church in the world devoted to Our Lady. We celebrate Mass here where Mass has been celebrated every day since the 5th century. We then depart for a visit to St. John Lateran, the Pope’s cathedral church where relics of both Peter and Paul remain under the main altar. Next we cross the street from St. John Lateran and visit the church of the Scala Santa. Here we see the Holy Staircase of 28 marble steps (now covered in wood) which is believed to be a staircase from Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem and brought to Rome by St. Helen in the 4th century. In the afternoon, we will visit the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, followed by a visit to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church with its tombs of Fra’ Angelico and St. Catherine of Siena. Next we arrive at and tour the Church of the Gesu’, mother church of the Jesuit Order, which contains the remains of its founder St. Ignatius of Loyola. Dinner and overnight in Rome.

Day 9 – Tuesday
ROME
After breakfast our day begins with a visit to one of the great art collections in the world, the Vatican Museums. We see Raphael’s Rooms, the Tapestries Gallery and the Belvedere with its marvelous statues. We also visit Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel that has been restored to its original beauty. Next we enjoy free time in St. Peter’s Basilica, where we will see a young Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the deeply moving, Pieta. We attend the late afternoon Mass celebrated behind the main altar at the altar of the Chair of St. Peter, below the Holy Spirit window. Dinner and overnight in Rome.

Day 10 Wednesday
ROME – Papal Audience
Following Mass this morning, we will go to the Vatican for an Audience with the Holy Father. Following our time with Pope Francis, we visit the churches of San Clemente and its Crypt and also San Croce in Gerusalemme, which house pieces of the True Cross. The remainder of our day is free at the Vatican. Dinner and overnight in Rome.

Day 11 Thursday
ROME / USA
Following breakfast, we transfer to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport for our return flight home. Though our pilgrimage draws to a close, its blessings will last a lifetime and its graces are certain to draw us closer to the Lord.