DAY 1 – Arrive Rome
We will depart in the afternoon 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 our hotel, we will catch our first glimpse of the many ancient monuments, evidence that the “Eternal City” has a history and an appeal like no other city in the world. We will check into our hotel where we will stay for four nights on a bed and breakfast basis.
DAY 2 – St. Peter’s Basilica, Basilica of St. Mary Majors & Sanctuary of the Mother of Perpetual Help
Our visit to Rome will begin with a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest temples of Christendom, where we will see the impressive works such as Bernini’s baldachin, Michelangelo’s famous Pietà 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 soak up the atmosphere of the surroundings with free time for lunch near St. Peter’s Square.
In the afternoon we will enjoy a visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Majors, the largest Catholic Marian Church in Rome and have time for prayer before the venerated image of Salus Populi Romani; an Icon of the Virgin Mother and Child, credited with saving the city from plague during the late 6th century and before which Pope Francis prayed during the early days of the imposed coronavirus lockdown in Italy. Our day will conclude with evening Mass at the nearby Sanctuary of the Mother of Perpetual Help. The original painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is, perhaps, the most widely-recognised icon in the world. After Mass we will hear of the history of the image which involves theft, war and visons of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
DAY 3 – Basilica of St. Clemente, Basilica of St. John Lateran, Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs
Located in the heart of medieval Rome, the Basilica of San Clemente al Laterano tells the history of Rome based on the different layers of the church. When in 1857, the prior of the Basilica di San Clemente thought there might be something underneath his 12th-century church, already renowned for its relics and striking mosaic of the Crucifixion, he found not only the original, 4th-century basilica—with numerous frescoes—but a 2nd-century Mithraic cult temple and a 1st-century Roman home! This morning we will visit the Basilica of San Clemente and learn of the history of the basilica of the layers beneath.
A short distance from the Basilica of San Clemente is the 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. In this historic spot we will be the opportunity to climb the steps in the traditional manner. Being the cradle of the Catholic Church, Rome has many sacred places of worship. Our morning will conclude with a visit to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the “Mother Church of all churches” and seat of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis.
This afternoon we will drive to the vibrant Piazza Navona and after time at leisure for lunch, we will walk through the ancient-cobbled streets, walking by the famous Pantheon before arriving at Trevi fountain where we will have time to visit at the many famous ice-cream parlours. Before leaving we will be sure to throw a coin in the fountain, ensuring our return to the “Eternal City.” We will have the remainder of the evening free to enjoy dinner in a typical Italian restaurant.
DAY 4 – Church of San Pietro in Montorio
This morning we will visit one of the most beautiful corners of Rome, the slopes of the Janiculum Hill which boasts a wonderful panorama of ancient Rome. We will celebrate Mass at the Church of San Pietro in Montorio which has a special connection with one of the most important chapters in the history of Ireland, the Fight of the Earls in 1607 when Earl Hugh O'Neill of Tyrone (1540-1616), Rory O'Donnell of Tyrconnell and their ninety followers went into exile from Ulster in Ireland and eventually ended up in Rome. Today we will see the tombstones that commemorate Rory O’Donnell and his brother Caffar, who died in 1608 and that of Hugh O’Neill. We will have the afternoon at leisure for shopping and private sightseeing.
DAY 5 – Mass at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, Rome
This morning we will celebrate Mass at the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, appointed by Pope John Paul II as the Divine Mercy Spirituality Centre in Rome. After Mass we will have time for prayer in chapel dedicated to The Divine Mercy and to Saint Sister Faustina. Afterwards we will depart Rome and drive through the picturesque countryside through the ‘Green Heart of Italy’ before arriving in Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare.
Upon arriving at our hotel and checking into our rooms there will be some time to unpack and relax. 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. We will have time for prayer in the small chapel, see the Chapel of the Transito where St. Francis died and the famous Rose Garden.
DAY 6 - Tour of Assisi & Tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis
We will drive this morning to the medieval town of Assisi and after the celebration of Mass in the Basilica of St. Clare enjoy a guided tour of the town, learning how the young Francis and Clare gave up their lavish lifestyles in favour of a life of prayer. After time for private prayer at the tomb of St. Francis, we will enjoy a tour of the basilica as we admire the breath-taking frescoes of Cimabue, Giotto, and Simone Martini.
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. Such was Carlo’s love for St. Francis and the town of Assisi that he requested to be buried in the birthplace of the great saint.
After free time for lunch, we will visit the Sanctuary of the Renunciation and will have time for prayer before the remains of Blessed Carlo Acutis. The remainder of the afternoon at leisure will allow us to explore the town or to simply sit back and relax at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the main square.
DAY 7 - Return home
This morning after breakfast we will bid “Arrivederci” to Assisi and drive to Ciampino airport for our return flight, bringing with us wonderful memories which will last a lifetime.
*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.