Day 1 - Assisi
We will depart in the morning from Cork to Rome. On arrival, we will be greeted by our Marian Pilgrimages guide and driver who will remain with us for the duration of our pilgrimage. We will drive to Assisi, town of St. Francis and St. Clare and where we will spend the first two nights of our pilgrimage.
This year marks the 800th Anniversary of St. Francis receiving the stigmata in the woods of La Verna - a very special year for Franciscans. This afternoon we will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and afterwards visit the Chapel of the Porziuncola where Francis began to realise his true calling and where Clare was accepted into the Order, it is fitting that we should begin our pilgrimage in this sacred place.
Day 2 - Assisi
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of St. Clare where we will see the original San Damiano Cross which has been carefully preserved through the centuries and have time for prayer before the tomb of the founder of the Order of the Poor Clares. As we walk through the town, accompanied by our guide, we will hear of the lives of both St. Francis and St. Clare and how they relinquished lavish lifestyles in favour of a life of charity and prayer. Our walking tour will conclude at the Basilica of St. Francis where we can admire the impressive frescoes and later have time for prayer at the tomb of the Poor Man of Assisi.
Our pilgrimage to Assisi would not be complete without a visit to the Sanctuary of the Renunciation, made famous as the spot where Francis stripped himself of his fine clothes, thus relinquishing his wealthy lifestyle. In the same sanctuary today are the remains of Carlo Acutis, a young boy who was very much impressed by the figure of Francis of Assisi and who, just like Francis, liked nothing more than to help the poor. Like Francis, he used his skills as a means of evangelisation and has been described by Pope Francis as a great example for young people today. We will have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure for personal sightseeing and shopping.
Day 3 - Loreto
This morning we depart Assisi and drive through the Green Heart of Italy 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 which is enshrined in the impressive basilica. According to tradition, transported by angels to the town of Loreto, the Holy House is the same house where Our Lady grew up and received the gift of the Annunciation. Today we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of the Holy House of Nazareth and will enjoy time for private prayer.
In the afternoon we will drive to the town of Osimo, a monumental town just a short drive from Loreto. We will visit the Sanctuary of St. Joseph of Cupertino, a Conventual Franciscan Friar (OFM Conv.) who is patron saint of students, astronauts, and aviation - due to his well-known gift of levitation. Together we will have time for prayer and afterwards enjoy some of the fine views of the surrounding landscape.
Day 4 - Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano
After breakfast we will depart Loreto and drive to the town of Lanciano, site of the first Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church. We will celebrate Mass and afterwards venerate the relics of the Eucharistic Miracle which date back to the 8th century. As we drive towards San Giovanni Rotondo, we will begin to hear of Padre Pio and the series of events that brought him to San Giovanni Rotondo. Upon arrival in the town of St. Pio, we will check into our hotel and have time to relax before dinner.
Day 5 - San Giovanni Rotondo
The English Office was founded by Fr. Alessio Parente to welcome English-speaking pilgrims arriving in San Giovanni Rotondo. After the celebration of morning Mass, we will visit the English Office and learn more of the life of Padre Pio before receiving a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the humble friar.
In the afternoon, our guided tour of the sanctuary will allow us to walk in the footsteps of Padre Pio during his years in San Giovanni Rotondo. Our guide will take us to the ancient Church of Our Lady of Grace where Padre Pio celebrated Mass and heard confessions before continuing onto the capuchin friary, where we will learn more about the poor friar who prays as Padre Pio often described himself. Our day will conclude in the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina where there will be time for private prayer before the remains of the great saint of our time.
Day 6 - San Giovanni Rotondo
Padre Pio had a great devotion to St. Michael the Archangel and travelled on pilgrimage to the shrine in Monte Sant Angelo. As we drive to the quaint town, we will hear of the apparitions of the Archangel Michael and celebrate Mass in the sacred cave. Time at leisure will allow us to stroll through the cobbled streets of this unique town, known as the City of two Sites, boasting two World UNESCO Heritage Sites.
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, this afternoon we will learn of the history behind what is regarded as Padre Pio's greatest creation.
This evening we will return to the sanctuary as we join with fellow pilgrims to participate in the Torchlight Procession.
Day 7 - Pietrelcina
After breakfast we will depart San Giovanni Rotondo. As we drive towards Pietrelcina, our guide will recount to us episodes in the life of Francesco Forgione (future Pade Pio) during his years spent in his native town. We will celebrate the closing Mass of our pilgrimage in the Church of the Holy Family and afterwards enjoy a walking tour which will include visits to the Forgione family home where Francesco was born, the Church of Sant Anna where he was baptised and the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli where the newly ordained Padre Pio would celebrate his first Mass. Our final visit of the day will be to nearby Piana Romana where Padre Pio would receive the first signs of the stigmata.
The beauty of the Italian countryside will make for an enjoyable evening drive towards Rome where we will spend the last night of our pilgrimage. Upon arrival we will check into our hotel and have time to relax before our farewell dinner.
Day 8 - Return home
This morning we will check out of our hotel and drive the short distance to Fiumicino airport for our return flight to Cork.
*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.