This morning we will depart 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 catch our first glimpse of the picturesque countryside as we drive to the town of 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 time at leisure before gathering for our “Welcome Dinner.”
We will drive this morning to the medieval town of Assisi and after the celebration of Mass in the Basilica of St. Francis. We will enjoy a tour of the basilica as we admire the breath-taking frescoes of Cimabue, Giotto, and Simone Martini.
During our guided tour of the town, we will learn how the young Francis and Clare gave up their lavish lifestyles in favour of a life of prayer. Our walking tour of Assisi will conclude at the Basilica of St. Clare where we will have time for private prayer.
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 lunch we will visit the Sanctuary of Spoliation 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.
Today we will be dazzled by the scenery as we depart Assisi in the “Green Heart of Italy” and drive to the town of Loreto. The most treasured and venerated shrine of Our Lady throughout the world is that of the Holy House of Nazareth. According to tradition, the Holy House is part of the Virgin Mary's house, which was transported by angels from Nazareth, arriving in Loreto on the 10th of December 1294.
To coincide with the centenary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto been proclaimed “principal Patroness to God for all aircraft and air travel”, Pope Francis declared 2020 as a Jubilee Year in Loreto. Due to the restrictions during 2020, in an extraordinary gesture and displaying His closeness to the shrine and devotees of Our Lady of Loreto, Pope Francis has extended the Jubilee Year until the 8th of December 2021. This afternoon we will have the privilege of celebrating Mass in Loreto during this special Jubilee Year.
After free time for lunch, we will enjoy a drive along the Adriatic Coast to the town of Lanciano. In the Church of San Francesco, we will 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.
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 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.
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. Before returning to San Giovanni Rotondo for lunch, we will visit the nearby St. Matthew’s monastery and receive a blessing with the relic of St. Matthew and Holy Oil.
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 the remainder of the afternoon at leisure to return to the crypt of St. Pio.
This morning we will depart San Giovanni Rotondo and enjoy views of the picturesque countryside as we drive to Pietrelcina, birthplace of Padre Pio.
We will celebrate Mass in the Church of the Holy Family and after free time for lunch, will learn of the early years of Francesco Forgione as we visit the home of the Forgione family where baby Francesco was born and the Church of Sant ‘Anna where he was baptised. Our pilgrimage will conclude in Piana Romana where we will see the farmhouse of the family and have time for prayer before the tree beneath which Padre Pio received the first signs of the stigmata.
We will drive to the four-star Bel Sito Hotel in Avellino where will enjoy a Gala Dinner as we look back on the wonderful memories of our pilgrimage in the footsteps of some of the great saints of the Catholic Church.
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.