A 14-Day Baltic Pilgrimage
Baltic Pilgrimage Sites, Including:
St. Petersburg, Pskov, Riga, Vilnius, Gdansk, Warsaw and more.
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USA / ST. PETERSBURG
This afternoon we gather at Washington Dulles International Airport for overnight flight aboard Lufthansa, toward our Baltic pilgrimage, connecting through Frankfurt, with meals served in flight.
This morning we arrive in St. Petersburg, Russia, and meet your Pilgrimage Tours tour director who will remain with you until the end of your tour. After checking in at our hotel we have an orientation tour of this grand city spread over 42 islands and established by Peter the Great. Among the sights, some of the city’s magnificent churches-Peter and Paul Cathedral, the St. Nicholas’ Cathedral and St. Isaac’s Cathedral-and the famous Palace Square and Nevsky Prospekt. Dinner and overnight in St. Petersburg.
Those who wish may rise early for Mass with the staff and seminarians at Mary Queen of Apostles Seminary, the national Catholic seminary for Russia. Opened in Moscow in 1993 after more than 70 years of persecution and suppression of Catholicism in the USSR, it moved to St. Petersburg in 1995. Today we see more of the sights for which this most famous and sophisticated Russian cities, including Tsarskoe Selo, the Smolny Monastery and Cathedral, and the Hermitage Museum. Those who wish may attend a 6:30 pm performance of Gounod’s “Faust” by the world-famous Kirov Ballet & Opera Company. Dinner and overnight in St. Petersburg.
ST. PETERSBURG / PSKOV, RUSSIA
This morning we depart by motor coach through the countryside to Pskov, a unique walled city with a rich history. Its Dovmontov Gorod was built on the foundations of nine churches built between the 12th and 15th centuries, now in ruins. In fact, even today Pskov has more churches than restaurants and hotels combined. We see the gold-domed Troisky Sobor, founded in the 10th century, as well as Transfiguration Cathedral and the recently re-opened Assumption Church. If time permits we will visit the Pechory Monastery, still home to 60 Orthodox monks. Dinner and overnight in Pskov.
PSKOV / JELGAVA and RIGA, Latvia
We depart early this morning by motor coach for Latvia, crossing briefly through Estonia en route to Riga, situated on both sides of the Daugava River. Of all the cities in the Baltics, Riga is the busiest and most urbane. Passing through Riga, we arrive this afternoon in Jelgava to celebrate Sunday Mass in the Jelgava Cathedral. In the evening we return to Riga for dinner and overnight.
Today we visit Riga. The skyline of the Old City is dominated by the steeples of three very different and beautiful churches: the Dome Cathedral, St. Peter’s and St. Jacob’s, which is the seat of the Catholic archbishopric. (Riga is distinguished by being the site of the only Catholic seminary to remain open in the days of the Soviet Union.) We also see the National Theatre where Latvia’s independence was declared on November 18, 1918, and Freedom Monument. In the afternoon on the shores of nearby Lake Jugla we see the Open-Air Ethnographic Museum that includes rural Latvian farmhouses, windmills, churches, and fishermen’s huts. Dinner is at Reutem’s House with a traditional folk performance. Overnight in Riga.
RIGA / SIAULIAI and VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
Our morning begins with a visit to the lovely beaches of the Jurmala, once a favorite Soviet get-away spot. Then we set out through the lush, fertile Zemgale region of Latvia for Lithuania. Along the way we visit the Hill of Crosses near the city of Siauliai. Covered with literally thousands of crosses of every size and sort, this is a traditional pilgrimage site not to be missed. We continue on to Vilnius for dinner and overnight.
Vilnius was the center of the Lithuanian fight for independence from the Soviet Union. Its long history as a center of faith and freedom is seen in the presence of a church spire at every turn. Today we see the major sites including the Adam Mickiewicz Monument, the Dawn Gate and New Gate, and also the city’s two castles. We visit the Icon of the Virgin in the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn, which is revered especially by Polish Catholics (a replica is in St. Peter’s in Rome), and the cathedral outside where many anti-Soviet gatherings took place. Dinner and overnight in Vilnius.
VILNIUS / GREAT MASURIAN LAKES, Poland
Rising early we set out for the Polish border where we enter the Augustow Forest of mainly spruce and pine, full of wildlife and known for its dozens of lakes. After lunch we pass through the Land of the Great Masurian Lakes that date back to the Ice Age. Dinner and overnight in Olsztyn.
We arrive by mid-day in the medieval (and modern) port city of Gdansk famed in World War II as the city the Germans called Danzig. It is known in more recent history as the home of Lech Walesa and center of the Solidarity movement. Our sightseeing includes the Main Town, the Old Town, the wonderfully restored historic waterfront and much more. Dinner and overnight in Gdansk.
GDANSK / MALBORK / WARSAW
Shortly after departing Gdansk this morning we arrive at Malbork, a Gothic castle of enormous proportions -the largest in Poland-and the site from which the Teutonic Knights ruled in the 14th and 15th centuries. Then we continue on to Warsaw where we get an orientation tour of the city along the Royal Way beginning at Castle Square and the excavations of the fortifications that once surrounded Warsaw, as well as the 14th century Gothic Bridge. We also visit the church dedicated to St. Stanislaus Kostka where Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, chaplain of Solidarity, celebrated Mass before he was killed in 1984. Dinner and overnight in Warsaw.
This morning we get an orientation tour of the city, visiting Old Town with its local galleries as well as the Royal Way beginning at Castle Square and the excavations of the fortifications that once surrounded Warsaw, as well as the 14th century Gothic Bridge. Located on the left bank of the Wisla River, the historical quarter of the city has been restored to its pre-war condition. We visit the church dedicated to St. Stanislaus and also visit the convent where Blessed Faustina first joined the religious order. Next we visit the historical churches of St. John’s Cathedral, the Holy Cross Church and Popieluszko. Continuing along the Royal Route to see the famous statues, aristocratic residences and Lazienki Park with its famous Chopin monument. Our day ends with a visit to the Royal Castle. Dinner and overnight in Warsaw.
WARSAW / LUBLIN
Today we travel southeast to Lublin. In this town, not far from beautiful and unspoiled mountains where he enjoyed skiing, university professor and future pope Karol Wojtila was an instrumental figure in so-called Lublin Thomism. A place of notable architectural beauty, we see the neo-Gothic castle, the Krakow, Royal and Grodzka Gates and various other historical sites. In addition to visiting the Catholic University we visit the John Paul II Center, supported by the Friends of John Paul II Foundation. Dinner and overnight in Warsaw.
WARSAW / USA
Today our Baltic pilgrimage comes to an end and we return to the USA. Though our Baltic pilgrimage draws to a close, its blessings will last a lifetime and its graces are certain to draw us closer each day to the Lord.