We will depart in the morning from Dublin to Naples with Aer lingus. Upon arrival we will meet our tour escort and catch our first glimpse of the spectacular countryside as we drive to the town of Pietrelcina, birthplace of St. Pio.
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.”
After lunch in a local restaurant, 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.
We will drive the short distance to 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. We will enjoy views of the contrasting landscapes as we drive to our destination of San Giovanni Rotondo, home to Padre Pio for over fifty years. After checking into the Hotel Colonne we will have our evening meal.
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 morning we will begin to learn of the life of Padre Pio during his years in San Giovanni Rotondo. We will celebrate Mass in the ancient Church of Our Lady of Grace where he spent many hours each day hearing confessions and afterwards in the English Office, we will receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the humble friar.
In the afternoon we will continue in the footsteps of Padre Pio 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 day 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 morning we will celebrate Mass in the sacred cave at the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel and afterwards have time at leisure in the wonderful town of Monte Sant’ Angelo, famous for its quaint cobbled streets and white-washed houses.
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.
In the afternoon we will visit nearby St. Matthew’s monastery and receive a blessing with the relic of St. Matthew and Holy Oil.
St. Matthew’s monastery
St. Matthew’s monastery is a place rich in history, art, culture and above all it is full of faith and spirituality.?Founded by the Benedictines the monastery, after a period in the hands of the Cistercian Order, was passed onto the Franciscan Order who to this day are still custodians of the monastery. Devotion to St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist began at the end of the sixteenth century with the arrival of a relic of St. Matthew which today is safely guarded behind the high altar of the monastery church. Pilgrims will enjoy the magical atmosphere of this ancient monastery with frescoes dating back to the XI – XII century and its wonderful cloister.
Padre Pio through his life endured great pain and suffering. He presented to the world his greatest gift, the hospital, "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza". This morning we will celebrate Mass at the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza and learn of the history behind one of the most important research centres in Europe. We will have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure with the opportunity for confession or to return to the crypt of St. Pio for private prayer.
After breakfast we will check out of our hotel and drive to Naples airport for our return flight to Dublin, filled with a sense of gratitude, 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.