DAY 1 Rome – Benevento - Pietrelcina
We will depart in the morning from Dublin to Rome. Upon arrival we will meet our tour escort and catch our first glimpse of the spectacular countryside as we drive to the town of Benevento where we will spend the first night of our pilgrimage. After lunch in our hotel we will drive the short distance to the town of Pietrelcina, birthplace of Padre Pio.
Surrounded by the Apennine Mountains, Benevento has been defined as an "open-air museum" with its outstanding Roman monuments and Longobard World Heritage Site. Monuments of the Roman period include the Arch of Trajan, built in honour of the Emperor Trajan and the Roman Theatre, erected by the Emperor Hadrian which is still used to host theatre, dance and opera performances. A jewel of the Longobard period is the Church of Santa Sofia, dating to 760 A.D. with its beautiful cloister and the "Civitas Nova" with its perimeter walls, earning it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Without doubt one of the most unspoilt pilgrim destinations in Italy. In the quaint town one will learn of the early years of Francesco Forgione (future Padre Pio) and how he overcame many obstacles in order to fulfil his dream of becoming “a monk with a beard.”
We will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Church of the Holy Family and afterwards enjoy a walking tour of the town visiting the Forgione family home where baby Francesco was born and the Church of Sant’ Anna where he was baptised.
Before returning to our hotel we will visit Piana Romana where we will see the farmhouse of the Forgione family and in the Chapel of St. Francis have time for prayer before the tree beneath which Padre Pio received the first signs of the stigmata.
DAY 2 Benevento – San Giovanni Rotondo
This morning we will have a tour of the cathedral in Benevento where Padre Pio was ordained and afterwards enjoying views of the contrasting landscapes as we drive to our destination of San Giovanni Rotondo, home to Saint Pio for over fifty years. We will check into the Hotel Colonne and afterwards have lunch.
San Giovanni Rotondo
The humble friar "Padre Pio of Pietrelcina" has been responsible for the transformation of the once remote agricultural town of San Giovanni Rotondo into an international place of pilgrimage. The sanctuary is home to some fine works of modern architecture and art however the Franciscan atmosphere is still very much present in the ancient Church of Our Lady of Grace and adjoining capuchin friary which remain untouched by time. The great work, "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza", so much desired by the friar continues to flourish and is now one of the leading hospitals in Europe - Padre Pio of Pietrelcina is still very much present in the town of San Giovanni Rotondo.
This afternoon we will walk the Way of the Cross which allow us as Christians, to pause and enter reflectively into those last moments of Jesus’s journey of love. After dinner we will have the opportunity to attend the Good Friday procession in the nearby town of San Marco in Lamis.
San Marco in Lamis
For centuries the Fracchie Procession has re-enacted the Passion of Christ along the streets of this town on Good Friday. Large torches made up of burning tree trunks and branches held together by large metal rings, luminate the streets of the town as they guide the Statue of the Madonna to the Collegiate Church where the lifeless body of Christ is lain. The emotional tradition, unique to the town, is a truly unforgettable experience.
DAY 3 San Giovanni Rotondo
This morning we will visit the English Office where we will hear of the life of Saint Pio and receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the humble friar. We will walk in the footsteps of Padre Pio during his time in San Giovanni Rotondo with a guided tour of the friary where we will see the cell where Padre Pio lived and died and have time for prayer before the crucifix of the stigmata. Our morning will culminate 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.
This evening, after dinner, we will have the opportunity to attend the Vigil Mass in the Church of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.
DAY 4 San Giovanni Rotondo & Monte Sant’ Angelo
Padre Pio through his life endured great pain and suffering. He presented to the world his greatest gift, the hospital, "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza". We will celebrate Mass this morning in the hospital and have time at leisure for private prayer or to return to the crypt of Saint Pio.
After a typical Italian Easter lunch, we will drive to the nearby town of Monte Sant’ Angelo.
Monte Sant’ Angelo
The town of Monte Sant’ Angelo was built around the Shrine of Saint Michael the Archangel, the oldest shrine in Western Europe dedicated to the Archangel Michael. The origin of the sanctuary dates between the end of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth century following the apparitions of St. Michael the Archangel. Once a place of pagan worship, the sacred cave was consecrated by the Archangel Michael and is regarded as a true place of pardon and prayer.
We will visit the sacred cave and afterwards have time at leisure to stroll the cobbled streets of this quaint town, famous for its white-washed houses. This evening we will enjoy our Gala Dinner as we mark the final evening of our pilgrimage.
DAY 5 San Giovanni Rotondo – Naples airport – Dublin
After breakfast we will check out of our hotel and drive to Naples airport as we return to our homes filled with a sense of tranquillity, joy 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.