DAY 1 – 21 December
This afternoon 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. As we drive to Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare, we will hear of the lives of the two great Franciscan saints. We will arrive at the Hotel Domus Pacis where we will have lunch on arrival and afterwards have time to relax in our rooms.
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 in Assisi. This afternoon we will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and afterwards have time for prayer in the Chapel of the Porziuncola, the birthplace of the Franciscan Order.
DAY 2 – 22 December
After morning Mass, we will enjoy a guided tour of Assisi. Beginning at the Basilica of St. Francis, we will have time for prayer at the tomb of the great saint and afterwards will admire the breath-taking frescoes of Cimabue, Giotto, and Simone Martini, depicting the life of the founder of the Franciscan Order. As we walk through the town, we will learn how the young Francis and Clare gave up their lavish lifestyles in favour of a life of prayer. Our tour will conclude at the Basilica of St. Clare where we will have time for private prayer at the tomb of the founder of the Order of Poor Clares.
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. In the afternoon, in the Sanctuary of the Renunciation, we will gather for prayer before the tomb of the remarkable teenager.
DAY 3 - 23 December
Outside the walls of Assisi lies the Convent of San Damiano, where St. Francis received his calling in 1209 and once the home to St. Clare and the Order of the Poor Clares. In this tranquil setting we will celebrate morning Mass and enjoy a tour of the church and convent, where Clare lived and died. We will have the afternoon at leisure for private sightseeing and to soak up the festive atmosphere of this medieval town.
DAY 4 – 24 December
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 St. Francis and venerate the relics of the first Eucharistic Miracle in the history of the Catholic Church.
After lunch we will drive towards San Giovanni Rotondo, during which time we will begin to learn of the early years of Padre Pio and how he fulfilled his dream to follow the rule of 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 evening there will be opportunity to join with the friars as they celebrate the Christmas Vigil Mass at the sanctuary.
DAY 5 - 25 December
Padre Pio loved Christmas and had a special affection for the Baby Jesus, ever since he was a child. 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, celebrated Mass and received the gift of the stigmata. Our morning 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 enjoy a typical Italian Christmas lunch and afterwards have the afternoon at leisure with the opportunity to return to the sanctuary or to simply relax and enjoy the festivities.
DAY 6 - 26 December
This morning, 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. 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.
In the afternoon we will celebrate Mass in the nearby St. Matthew’s monastery and afterwards receive a blessing with the relic of St. Matthew and Holy Oil. We will return to San Giovanni Rotondo and have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
DAY 7 - 27 December
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 the many pilgrims who have visited the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel. As we drive to the town of Monte Sant’Angelo we will hear of the apparitions of the Archangel Michael and celebrate Mass in the sacred cave. Afterwards we will enjoy a stroll through this unique town with its cobbled streets and quaint, white-washed houses. We will return to San Giovanni Rotondo for lunch and have time to return to the crypt for private prayer.
DAY 8 - 28 December
This morning we will depart San Giovanni Rotondo and drive to the town of Pietrelcina, birthplace of St. Pio. We will begin to learn of the early years of Francesco Forgione (the future Padre Pio) with a guided tour of the town, visiting the home of the Forgione family where baby Francesco was born and the Church of Sant ‘Anna where he was baptised. In nearby Piana Romana, we will celebrate Mass and afterwards have time for prayer before the tree beneath which Padre Pio received the first signs of the stigmata.
In the afternoon, we will 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.