DAY 1 - Pietrelcina
We will depart in the morning from Dublin to Naples. On arrival, 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 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. After lunch in a local restaurant, we will enjoy a walking tour of the town 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 visit to the birthplace of Padre Pio will conclude with the celebration of the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Church of the Holy Family.
The beauty of the Italian countryside will make for an enjoyable evening drive to San Giovanni Rotondo, home to Padre Pio for over fifty years.
DAY 2 - English Office, Capuchin friary & Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina
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 3 - Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel & Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza
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.
In 1956 Padre Pio presented to the world his greatest gift, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza which today is 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.
DAY 4 - Holy House of Nazareth
This morning we will depart San Giovanni Rotondo and drive to 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. This afternoon we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of the Holy House and enjoy time for private prayer before continuing our drive to the town of Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. We will check into our rooms and have time to relax before dinner.
DAY 5 - St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare of Assisi, Blessed Carlo Acutis
This morning we will drive to the town of Assisi and celebrate Mass at the Sanctuary of the Renunciation. This part of Assisi was made famous as the spot where Francis stripped himself of his fine clothes, thus relinquishing his wealthy lifestyle in favour of a life of poverty and prayer. In the Sanctuary of the Renunciation today rest 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. After Mass, we will hear about the life of Carlo Acutis and have time for prayer at the tomb of the boy whose story has inspired many to return to the faith.
We will enjoy a walking tour of the medieval town of Assisi. 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. We will have the afternoon at leisure with the opportunity for shopping and private sightseeing.
DAY 6 - Chapel of the Porziuncola & St. Peter's Basilica
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and afterwards visit the Chapel of the Porziuncola before our departure to Rome. After free time for lunch, we will enjoy a guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica, one of the holiest temples of Christendom, where we will see impressive works such as Bernini's baldachin, Michelangelo's famous Piet� statue and the statue of St. Peter on his throne. We will have time for prayer before the tombs of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII and afterwards will enjoy some time at leisure to soak up the atmosphere of the surroundings of St. Peter's Square before driving to our hotel.
DAY 7 - Walking tour of Rome, Irish College & Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs
After breakfast, we will enjoy a guided walking tour through the ancient cobbled streets of Rome, passing by such famous sites as Trevi Fountain and Pantheon before arriving at the lively Piazza Navona where we will have free time for lunch in the elegant square.
In the afternoon we will celebrate Mass in the Irish College and afterwards enjoy a tour of what is the last of many Irish Colleges that were once scattered over Europe.
Our day will conclude with a visit to the nearby Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs which encloses 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. The Stairs were brought to Rome by Saint Helena in the fourth century and for centuries have attracted pilgrims who wish to honour the Passion of Jesus Christ.
DAY 8 - Papal Audience, Basilica of St. Mary Major & Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
Subject to Pope Francis being in Rome, this morning we will have the opportunity to gather with fellow pilgrims in St. Peter's Square to attend the Papal Audience and afterwards enjoy some free time for shopping and personal sightseeing around St. Peter's Square. In the afternoon we will celebrate the closing Mass of our pilgrimage in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the largest Catholic Marian Church in Rome. Together, we will pray before the venerated image of Salus Populi Romani; an Icon of the Virgin Mother and Child, credited with saving the city of Rome from plague and before which Pope Francis prays prior to his departure and upon his return to Rome after visits abroad.
The last visit of our pilgrimage will be to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, founded in the place where once was an ancient church built over the tomb of the Apostle Paul. After a guided tour of the basilica, we will drive the short distance to Fiumicino 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.