Day 1 – Wednesday, 17th July
This afternoon we will depart from Cork to Naples where, upon arrival, we will meet our tour escort and enjoy our first views of the Italian countryside as we drive to the historical town of Benevento. We will check into the four star Grand Hotel Italiano where we will stay for the first night of our pilgrimage on a half board basis.
Day 2 – Thursday, 18th July
This morning we will travel to the town of Pietrelcina, birthplace of St. Pio. After the celebration of Mass, we will have a walking tour of the quaint town visiting the home of the Forgione family where Padre Pio was born, the Church of Sant’Anna where he was baptised and the church where he celebrated his first Mass.
After free time for lunch we will travel to nearby Piana Romana where we will see the humble farmhouse of the Forgione family and have time for prayer before the tree beneath which Padre Pio received the invisible stigmata. We will enjoy the contrasting landscapes of Italy as we make our way to our destination of San Giovanni Rotondo where we will stay in the Hotel Colonne for the following four nights (3 nights full board / 1 night half board).
Day 3- Friday, 19th July
After breakfast we will celebrate Mass in the ancient church of Our Lady of Grace where St. Pio celebrated Mass, heard confessions and received the gift of the stigmata. Afterwards we will meet with one of the capuchin friars where we will hear more of the life of St. Pio and receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix of the humble friar.
In the afternoon we will follow in the footsteps of the Padre Pio during his time in San Giovanni Rotondo. Despite experiencing great suffering in his own life, through his ministries and great work which saw the realisation of the hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, he helped relieve the sick and troubled from their own individual sufferings. After visiting the capuchin friary and seeing the cell occupied by the capuchin friar, we will visit the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina and have time for private prayer before the mortal remains of this great saint of our time.
Day 4 – Saturday, 20th July
This morning we will travel to the town of Monte Sant’Angelo and celebrate Mass at the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel, the oldest shrine in Western Europe dedicated to the Archangel Michael. We will have time at leisure to browse the local markets before returning to San Giovanni Rotondo for lunch.
In the afternoon we will visit nearby St. Matthew’s monastery, steeped in history, and receive a blessing with the relic of St. Matthew and Holy Oils. This evening, after dinner, we will participate in the Marian Torchlight procession as we honour the Madonna, for whom St. Pio had a great devotion.
Day 5 – Sunday, 21st July
We will celebrate Mass this morning at the hospital, ‘Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza’ considered Padre Pio’s greatest creation. Afterwards we will walk the Way of the Cross, which allow us, as Christians, to pause and enter reflectively into those last moments of Jesus’s journey of love. We will have the afternoon at leisure with the opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation and private prayer.
Day 6 – Monday, 22nd July
This morning we will check out of our hotel and drive to the capuchin friary of Sant’Anna in Foggia, Padre Pio’s last stop before arriving in San Giovanni Rotondo. We will see the cell occupied by the friar and have time for prayer in the church where Padre Pio celebrated Mass. Mass will be celebrated at the nearby shrine of Our Lady of Incoronata where according to tradition Our Lady appeared in April 1001. After a tour of the sanctuary we will continue our drive to Avellino where we will stay in the four star Bel Sito Hotel le Due Torri on a half board basis.
Day 7 – Tuesday, 23rd July
Today we will visit the historical city of Naples. We will celebrate Mass at the cathedral of Naples where the faithful gather each year in the hope of witnessing the liquefaction of the blood of St. Gennaro, patron saint of Naples. Afterwards we will enjoy a guided walking tour of the historical centre of one of the most ancient cities in Europe, with its cobbled streets and wealth of historic buildings and parks. After time at leisure for lunch we will return to our hotel in Avellino for our evening meal.
Day 8 – Wednesday, 24th July
This morning we will depart Avellino and travel to the town of Pagani, home to the sanctuary of St. Alphonsus Liguori. Born in Naples in 1696, he died at Pagani in 1787. He founded a congregation of Missionaries, today known as the Redemptorists, especially dedicated to preaching the Gospel to those who were most abandoned living at that time in the remotest places. The Redemptorist congregation is now found in about 72 countries, still going to places where others do not wish to go and reaching out to people of all ages. We will celebrate morning Mass and enjoy a tour of the sanctuary.
After lunch we will drive to Naples airport as we return to Cork, filled with a sense of tranquillity, rejuvenation and peace in our hearts.