DAY 1 - Irish College, Basilica of St. John Lateran & Holy Stairs
We will depart in the morning from Dublin to Rome. In the arrivals hall we will be greeted by our Marian Pilgrimages guide and driver who will remain with us for the duration of our pilgrimage.
We will drive to Rome and have lunch in a typical Italian restaurant before celebrating the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Irish College and afterwards enjoy a tour of what is the last of many Irish Colleges that were once scattered over Europe.
Being the cradle of the Catholic Church, Rome has many sacred places of worship. This afternoon we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the “Mother Church of all churches” and seat of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. Next to the basilica are the “Holy Stairs” - the steps which led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem on which Jesus Christ climbed on his way to trial during his Passion. The Stairs were brought to Rome by Saint Helena in the fourth century and for centuries have attracted pilgrims who wish to honour the Passion of Jesus Christ. In this historic spot we will be the opportunity to climb the steps in the traditional manner.
As we drive to our hotel, we will catch our first glimpse of the many ancient monuments, evidence that the “Eternal City” has a history and an appeal like no other city in the world. We will check into our hotel where we will stay for two nights on a bed and breakfast basis.
DAY 2 - St. Peter's Basilica & Walking tour
Our morning will begin with a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest temples of Christendom, where we will see the impressive works such as Bernini’s baldachin, Michelangelo’s famous Pietà statue and the statue of St. Peter on his throne. We will have time for prayer before the tombs of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII and afterwards will soak up the atmosphere of the surroundings with free time for lunch near St. Peter’s Square.
In the afternoon we will visit the historical centre of Rome where we will see the world-famous Pantheon and stop at Trevi fountain to throw a coin, ensuring our return to the “Eternal City.”
DAY 3 - Papal Audience
This morning we will attend the Papal Audience in Rome and afterwards drive through the picturesque countryside through the ‘Green Heart of Italy’ before arriving in Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare.
Upon arriving at our hotel and checking into our rooms there will be some time to unpack and relax. The Chapel of the Porziuncola, where Francis understood his true calling and received Claire into the order, is a fitting place from which to begin our pilgrimage. We will have time for prayer in the small chapel, see the Chapel of the Transito where St. Francis died and the famous Rose Garden. After the celebration of Mass, we will have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
DAY 4 - Tour of Assisi & Tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis
We will drive this morning to the medieval town of Assisi and after the celebration of Mass in the Basilica of St. Clare enjoy a guided tour of the town, learning how the young Francis and Clare gave up their lavish lifestyles in favour of a life of prayer. After time for private prayer at the tomb of St. Francis, we will enjoy a tour of the basilica as we admire the breath-taking frescoes of Cimabue, Giotto, and Simone Martini.
The story of St. Francis is an impressive story that has touched the hearts of many through the centuries and continues to do so. No more is this evident than in the recently beatified Carlo Acutis. Just like Francis, Carlo liked nothing more than to help the poor and less fortunate than himself. He had a great love for Jesus and, as Francis travelled on foot to preach the Gospel, Carlo chose the computer as a means of evangelisation. Such was Carlo’s love for St. Francis and the town of Assisi that he requested to be buried in the birthplace of the great saint.
After free time for lunch, we will visit the Sanctuary of the Renunciation and will have time for prayer before the remains of Blessed Carlo Acutis. The remainder of the afternoon at leisure will allow us to explore the town or to simply sit back and relax at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the main square.
DAY 5 - Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano
Today we will be dazzled by the scenery as we depart Assisi in the “Green Heart of Italy” and drive along the Adriatic Coast to the town of Lanciano. We will celebrate Mass in the Church of San Francesco and venerate the relics of the first Eucharistic Miracle in the history of the Catholic Church which dates back to the 8th century.
Driving towards San Giovanni Rotondo we will begin to learn of the early years of Padre Pio and how he fulfilled his dream to follow St. Francis and join the Capuchin Franciscan Order. As we arrive at our hotel, located just a five-minute walk from the sanctuary, we will check into our rooms and have evening meal.
DAY 6 - English Office, Capuchin friar & Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcinar
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the ancient Church of Our Lady of Grace where Padre Pio spent many hours each day hearing confessions, and afterwards in the English Office will receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the capuchin friar.
After lunch, we will walk in the footsteps of Padre Pio during his time in San Giovanni Rotondo. Visiting the capuchin friary will allow us to learn more about the “poor friar who prays” as he often described himself. Here we will have the opportunity to see the cell once occupied by the humble friar and the crucifix before which he received the stigmata.
Our day will conclude with a visit to the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina where we will have time for private prayer before the mortal remains of the great saint of our time.
DAY 7 - Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel & Way of the Cross
Today we will follow the path taken by pilgrims through the centuries. St. Francis of Assisi, St. Pio of Pietrelcina and Blessed Carlo Acutis are amongst many pilgrims who have visited the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel to pray in the sacred cave. As we drive to the town of Monte Sant’Angelo we will hear of the apparitions of the Archangel Michael before we celebrate Mass later have time for private prayer. Afterwards we will enjoy a stroll through this unique town with its cobbled streets and quaint, white-washed houses.
In 1956 Padre Pio presented to the world his greatest gift, “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” which today is now one of the most important hospitals in Europe. An important part in the story of Padre Pio, we will learn of the history behind what is regarded as Padre Pio’s greatest miracle.
Walking the Way of the Cross in the afternoon will allow us as Christians, to pause and enter reflectively into those last moments of Jesus’s journey of love. We will enjoy some time at leisure to return to the crypt of St. Pio or to stroll through the historical centre of the town before this evening coming together for our “Gala Dinner.”
DAY 8 - Return home
After breakfast we will check out of our hotel and drive to Naples airport for our return flight to Dublin returning to our homes, filled with a sense of tranquillity, rejuvenation, and peace in our hearts.
*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.