Wednesday, 27th March - Arrive Italy
This afternoon we will fly to Naples airport and upon arrival meet our guide and driver who will remain with us for the duration of our pilgrimage. As we drive to our hotel our guide will tells us of the traditions of this part of Italy and of our plans for the days ahead. Arriving at our hotel, we will check into our rooms and relax before dinner.
Thursday, 28th March - Holy Thursday
The beauty of the countryside will make for an enjoyable morning drive to the town of Pietrelcina, birthplace of Padre Pio, during which we will begin to hear of the early years of Padre Pio and how he fulfilled his dream of becoming a monk with a beard. On arrival, we will embark on a walking town of the town visiting the Forgione family home where Padre Pio was born and the church where he was baptised.
During this Marian Jubilee Year in Pietrelcina, we will pass through the Holy Door of the parish church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and have time for private prayer before the much-venerated statue of the Madonna della Libera, which sits just above the altar where Padre Pio celebrated his first Mass.
Our visit to Pietrelcina will conclude in the Church of the Holy Family and museum where precious items have been preserved of Padre Pio's years spent in Pietrelcina.
After lunch in a local restaurant, we will visit nearby Piana Romana and see the tree before which Padre Pio received the first signs of the stigmata. Afterwards we will drive to San Giovanni Rotondo and after checking into our hotel will attend the Mass of the Lord's Super, marking the beginning of the Easter Triduum.
Friday, 29th March - Good Friday
We will begin our day with a visit the English Office where we will hear more of the life of Padre Pio and receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the humble friar. Afterwards, as we begin our guided tour of the sanctuary visiting first the capuchin friary, we will learn more about the poor friar who prays, as he often described himself. Our morning will conclude in the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina where we will have time for prayer before the remains of the great saint of our time.
On this Good Friday afternoon, as we will walk the Way of the Cross, it will allow us as Christians, to pause and enter reflectively into those last moments of Jesus's journey of love.
Saturday, 30th March - Holy Saturday
Padre Pio had a great devotion to St. Michael the Archangel. This morning we will drive to the town of Monte Sant' Angelo, home to the oldest shrine in Western Europe dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. We will have time for prayer in the sacred cave and afterwards stroll the streets of the quaint town with its unique whitewashed houses. Before returning to our hotel, we will stop at the cemetery in San Giovanni Rotondo and have time for prayer at the chapel where rest the remains of Padre Pio's parents, Mary Pyle and our dear friends Fr. Alessio and Fr. Joseph Pius before returning to our hotel for lunch.
From the moment of his arrival in the southern Italian town, Padre Pio had a deep affinity for the local people of San Giovanni Rotondo. His presence transformed San Giovanni Rotondo into what was regarded as a remote agricultural town into a Hospital City and place of pilgrimage. Despite the transformation of the town, the traditions have very much remained. During our afternoon walk through the cobbled streets of the historical centre of San Giovanni Rotondo, we will hear of the history of the town, it's unique traditions and see some of the places visited by the humble friar. We will have time at leisure this afternoon for shopping and to soak up the atmosphere of the town, much-loved by Padre Pio.
This evening after dinner we will have the opportunity to attend the Easter Vigil ceremony in the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.
Sunday, 31st March - Easter Sunday
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 southern Italy. After the celebration of Mass on this Easter Sunday, we will hear of the history behind what is regarded as Padre Pio's greatest creation. An afternoon at leisure will allow us the opportunity to return to the crypt of St. Pio for private prayer.
Monday, 1st April - Easter Monday
This morning after breakfast, we will depart the town of St. Pio and drive to Naples airport for our return flight to Dublin.
*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.