Day 1 – Friday, 6th September
This morning we will depart from Dublin to Rome. Upon arrival we will meet our tour escort and transfer to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Built on the burial ground of St. Paul, we will be enthralled by this unique and astonishing church with its impressive mosaics and portraits of each of the Popes. After free time for lunch we will drive to the Hotel Domus Sessoriana where we will stay for three nights on a bed and breakfast basis. In the afternoon we will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the nearby Irish College and afterwards visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Known as the ‘Mother of all churches’, the Basilica of St John Lateran is the oldest church in the western world, the cathedral of Rome and the official seat of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. Time-permitting we will have the opportunity to visit the nearby Holy Stairs. According to tradition the Holy Stairs are the steps leading up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem on which Jesus Christ climbed shortly before being crucified. The stairs were brought to Rome by St. Helena in the fourth century and have attracted pilgrims who wish to honour the Passion of Jesus Christ. We will return to our hotel and have the evening at leisure to enjoy a walk around this beautiful district of Rome.
Day 2 – Saturday, 7th September
This morning we will travel to St. Peter’s Basilica. Originally founded by Constantine in 324, St. Peter’s Basilica stands on the traditional site where Peter – the apostle who is considered the first pope – was crucified and buried. Inside the basilica we will see Michelangelo’s delicate Pietá statue, the canopy altar where the Pope celebrates Mass and the crypt of the Popes, including the tomb of St. Peter. In the afternoon we will have a panoramic tour of Rome enjoying views of the Roman Forum, Piazza Venezia and world-famous Colosseum. We will have time at leisure in the elegant Piazza Navona before visiting the famous Pantheon and stopping at Trevi fountain to throw a coin, ensuring our return to the Eternal City! Before returning to our hotel we must visit the nearby Basilica of the Holy Cross. The basilica was once the residence of St. Helena, mother of Constantine, which was later transformed into a chapel designed to contain the relics believed to have been found on Mount Calvary which include fragments of the cross of Christ; two thorns from the crown placed on his head; one of the nails in the crucifixion and stone fragments of the scourging pillar. As part of the route of the ‘Seven Churches’, this basilica has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries.
Day 3 – Sunday, 8th September
This morning we will celebrate Mass at the Church of Santa Spirito in Sassia, now the Italian shrine of the devotion to Divine Mercy. We will have time for prayer at the side chapel dedicated to The Divine Mercy and to St. Sister Faustina. Here we will see the image of Merciful Jesus painted by P. Moskal; the statue of St. Sister Faustina Kowalska, the Apostle of The Divine Mercy; and her reliquary donated by the then Holy Father John Paul II after her canonization. We will walk the short distance to St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus Blessing and afterwards have time at leisure for personal sightseeing with the opportunity to visit the spectacular Vatican Museums containing masterpieces of painting, sculpture and other works of art collected by the popes through the centuries and the Sistine Chapel - one of the holiest sites in Christendom, the place where innumerable popes have been elected across the ages. (Advance booking for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel is essential and can be organised by calling our office).
Day 4 – Monday, 9th September
This morning we will check out of our hotel and travel to the nearby Basilica of St. Mary Major – the largest catholic Marian church in Italy. We will celebrate Mass and afterwards venerate the relic of the manger from Bethlehem in which the baby Jesus was lain. We will enjoy a short walk along pretty the tree-lined Via Merulana before arriving at the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori or ‘Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help’. The church is home to the original painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help which is one of the most widely recognized icons in the world and the history of which has involved theft, war and many miracles. Here we will have time for private prayer and reflection. After lunch we will leave Rome and drive to the Sanctuary of Divine Love. According to tradition, in the spring of 1740 a pilgrim on his way to Rome passed near the abandoned castle tower and was attacked by a herd of wild dogs. At the point of being killed, turning to the image of the Blessed Virgin and Jesus on the tower, the man pleaded for help, immediately the vicious dogs withdrew, and the pilgrim was spared. This first miracle was the basis of the building of a shrine to the Virgin Mary and Divine Love at this place. From the year of the dedication of the church, the sanctuary has become a place of pilgrimage which in 1979 Pope John Paul II named it the ‘Marian Shrine of Rome’. We will enjoy a tour of the sanctuary before transferring by coach to Ciampino airport for our return flight to Dublin.
*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.