Day 1 - Wednesday 2nd September
Check in at Dublin airport for Ryanair flight to Frankfurt, departing at 07:50, and arriving in Frankfurt at 11:05. Upon arrival in Frankfurt we will transfer to Wurzburg, Bavaria. Here we celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of St. Killian where the relics of Killian are held. Killian is one of the great Irish saints of the continent. According to Irish sources, Killian was born to noble parents in approximately the year 640 in Cloughballybeg, near Mullagh, Co. Cavan. In the summer of 686 Killian, with 11 companions, travelled through Gaul to Rome to receive missionary faculties from Pope Conon. The original group separated and St. Killian along with 2 companions, the priest Colmán and the deacon Totnan, remained in Würzburg. Killian made this town as the base of his activity and converted Duke Gozbert with a large part of his subjects to Christianity. St. Killian told the Duke that he was in violation of sacred scripture by being married to his brother's widow, Geilana, whom Killian had failed to convert to Christianity. When Geilana heard of Killian's words against her marriage, she was so angry that, in the absence of the duke, she had her soldiers sent to the main square of Würzburg, where Killian and his colleagues were preaching, and had him beheaded, along with two of his companions, Colmán and Totnan. St. Burchard, appointed by Boniface as the first bishop of Würzburg, built a cathedral on the spot where the martyrs were said to have met their deaths and had their relics unearthed and buried within a vault of that cathedral church. Their skulls, inlaid with precious stones, have been preserved to this day. On St. Killian's day, a glass case containing the three skulls is removed from a crypt, paraded through the streets before large crowds, and put on display in Würzburg Cathedral which is dedicated to Killian. Statues of these three saints (among others) line the famous Saints' Bridge across the River Main. We then continue on to Nuremburg and check into the Best Western Hotel for 1 night with dinner, bed and breakfast.
Day 2 - Thursday 3rd September
After breakfast we spend a full day in Nuremburg. Today we will take in a city tour of Nuremburg and see the Imperial Castle, St. Lorenz Church, and Nazi Trial grounds. There are 54 different museums for arts and culture, history, science and technology, where visitors can see the world’s oldest globe (built in 1492), a 500-year-old Madonna, and Renaissance-era German art. Nuremberg for many people is still associated with its traditional gingerbread (Lebkuchen) products, sausages, and handmade toys.
In the afternoon we visit Augsburg and see the church of St. Peter and the painting of Our Lady of Knots. We celebrate mass here and learn a little more about this iconic painting that inspires Pope Francis. The painting was donated around 1700 by Hieronymus Ambrosius Langenmantel (1641-1718), a canon of the Monastery of St. Peter in Augsburg. The donation is said to be connected to an event in his family. His grandfather Wolfgang Langenmantel (1586-1637) was on the verge of the separation from his wife Sophia Rentz (1590-1649) and therefore sought help from Jakob Rem, the Jesuit priest in Ingolstadt. Fr. Rem prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary and said: "In this religious act, I raise the bonds of matrimony, to untie all knots and smoothen them". Immediately peace was restored between the husband and wife, and the separation did not happen. In the memory of this event, their grandson commissioned the painting of the "Untier of Knots". Continue to the Altotting area and check in to the Hotel Munchner Hof Altotting for dinner and overnight.
Day 3 - Friday 4th September
Morning visit to Altotting, a town in Bavaria. For 500 years Altotting has been a place of religious pilgrimage by Catholics in honour of St. Mary and has been visited by St. Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict XVI. This small town is famous for the Chapel of Grace, one of the most visited shrines in Germany. This is a tiny octagonal chapel which keeps a venerated statue of the Virgin Mary. According to the legend in 1489 a 3-year-old local boy who had drowned in the river was revived when his grieving mother placed him in front of a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary at the high altar. News of the miracle quickly spread and the chapel was immediately extended by the erection of a nave and a covered walkway. Here, we will visit the shrine and celebrate Mass.
In the Treasure Vault of the Holy Chapel of Altötting is the Golden Horse, a 62 cm-high altarpiece made of gold and gilded silver, with golden figures coated in different coloured enamel. It depicts the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child and, as children, John the Baptist, John the evangelist and St. Catherine. In the foreground is King Charles VI of France. This masterpiece of the goldsmith's craft was a gift from Isabeau, Queen of France, a member of the Wittelsbach Bavarian royal family. The tradition of Bavaria calls for the heart of the deceased king to be placed in an urn and kept at the chapel at Altötting. The heart of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the builder of Neuschwanstein castle, lies in this chapel, along with those of his grandfathers and father.
This afternoon we drive to Oberammergau and witness a performance of the epic Passion Play. The original performance dates back to 1634. During the Thirty Year War, Oberammergau was spared the Black Plague and for this reason, the citizens vowed that every ten years they would give a play to honor the last days of the life of Christ. The performers of this once-in-a-decade event are all native to the village. To lend authenticity to the performance, the cast starts to grow their hair and beards more than a year in advance. During a break in the performance, join your fellow pilgrims for dinner before returning for the remainder of your Passion Play performance. Overnight in Hotel Rheinischer (or similar).
Day 4 - Saturday 5th September
This morning will be free in Oberammergau. Time permitting we may take part in some city sightseeing. Transfer to Frankfurt and check in at Frankfurt airport for Aer Lingus flight to Dublin departing at 20:55 and arriving in Dublin at 21:55.
*It is our intention to follow the itinerary as outlined above, however due to many factors like local holidays, traffic or weather conditions it may be necessary to make changes to the order of events or even the cancelation of certain events.