DAY 1 – Pietrelcina
This morning we will depart from Dublin to Naples. Upon arrival we will meet our guide and enjoy our first glimpse of the Italian countryside as we drive to the town of Pietrelcina, birthplace of St. Pio. After free time for lunch, we will enjoy a guided tour of the quaint town where we will hear of the early years of Francesco Forgione and how he overcame many obstacles in order to fulfil his dream of becoming “a monk with a beard.” We will visit the Forgione family home where baby Francesco was born and the Church of Sant ‘Anna where he was baptised. In the Church of the Holy Family, we will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage and afterwards. in nearby Piana Romana will visit the Chapel of St. Francis where we will have time for prayer before the tree beneath which Padre Pio received the first signs of the stigmata. We will continue our drive to San Giovanni Rotondo, home to Padre Pio for over fifty years. Arriving at our hotel, we will check into our rooms and have dinner.
Day 2 – English Office, Capuchin friary & Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina
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 3 – Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel & St. Matthew’s Monastery
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. Afterwards, we will enjoy a stroll through this unique town with its cobbled streets and quaint, white-washed houses.
In the afternoon we will drive to the nearby St. Matthew’s monastery and receive a blessing with the relic of St. Matthew and Holy Oil. Before returning to our hotel, we will stop at the cemetery in San Giovanni Rotondo and have time for prayer at the tombs of Fr. Alessio and Fr. Joseph Pius and visit the chapel where the parents of Padre Pio and Mary Pyle are entombed.
Day 4 – Way of the Cross
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, after morning Mass we will learn of the history behind what is regarded as Padre Pio’s greatest miracle.
In the afternoon we will Walk the Way of the Cross which will allow us as Christians, to pause and enter reflectively into those last moments of Jesus’s journey of love. We will have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure with the opportunity to return to the crypt of St. Pio and spend time in private prayer.
Day 5 – Lanciano
Today we will be dazzled by the scenery as we depart San Giovanni Rotondo 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 which dates back to the 8th century.
We will continue our drive to the “Green Heart of Italy” and the town of Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. Arriving at our hotel, we will check into our rooms and have dinner.
Day 6 – Assisi
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of St. Francis and afterwards, in the company of our guide, admire the breath-taking frescoes of Cimabue, Giotto and Simone Martini. As we walk through the medieval town of Assisi, we will learn of the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare and how they relinquished lavish lifestyles in favour of a life of poverty and prayer. In the Basilica of St. Clare, we will venerate the original cross of San Damiano and afterwards have time for prayer at the tomb of the great saint. Our morning will conclude with a visit to the Sanctuary of the Renunciation where we will pray before the tomb of the recently beatified Blessed Carlo Acutis who, just like Francis, liked nothing more than to help the poor and less fortunate than himself.
We will enjoy an afternoon at leisure for shopping and personal sightseeing. Our day will conclude with an evening visit the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Here we will see the Chapel of the Porziuncola, the birthplace of the Franciscan Order, the Chapel of the Transito where St. Francis died and the famous Rose Garden.
Day 7 – St. Peter’s Basilica
This morning we will depart Assisi and drive to Rome. We will have free time for lunch and afterwards enjoy a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest temples of Christendom. Accompanied by our guide, we will see the tombs of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII and admire impressive works of art which include Bernini’s baldachin, Michelangelo’s famous Pietà statue and the statue of St. Peter on his throne. In the nearby Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia (The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Rome), we will celebrate evening Mass and afterwards visit the Chapel of Divine Mercy and have time for prayer before the image of the Merciful Jesus, the statue of St. Sister Faustina Kowalska and her reliquary donated by the Holy Father John Paul II after her canonization.
We will check into our hotel and have time to relax in our rooms. An evening at leisure will provide an opportunity to dine out in a typical Roman restaurant (payable locally) or enjoy some personal sightseeing.
Day 8 – Basillica of St. John Lateran & Holy Stairs
This morning we will visit some of the famous sites of Rome including Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and have time at leisure in lively Piazza Navona.
Being the cradle of the Catholic Church, Rome has many sacred places of worship. This afternoon we will visit 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. We will celebrate the closing Mass of our pilgrimage in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the “Mother Church of all churches” and seat of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis before we depart to the airport as we return to our homes filled with a sense of peace, tranquillity, and joy 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.