Monday, 7th October
This afternoon we will depart from Dublin to Rome. Upon arrival in Rome we will meet our tour escort and transfer to the four-star Hotel Santa Costanza where we will stay for the following four nights. We will have dinner on arrival and later check into our rooms.
Tuesday, 8th October
This morning we will travel to St. Peter’s Basilica. Originally founded by Constantine in 324, St. Peter’s Basilica stands on the traditional site where Peter – the apostle who is considered the first pope – was crucified and buried. We will enjoy a guided tour of the basilica where we will see Michelangelo’s delicate Pietá statue, the canopy altar where the Pope celebrates Mass and the crypt of the Popes.
After free time for lunch we will visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran and see the Holy Stairs. We will celebrate Mass in the nearby Irish College and afterwards return to our hotel for evening meal.
Wednesday, 9th October
This morning we will attend the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square and afterwards drive to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Built on the burial ground of St. Paul, we will be enthralled by this unique and astonishing church with its impressive mosaics and portraits of each of the Popes.
After free time for lunch, as we make our way to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, we will see the historical Baths of Caracalla, the most famous of all the ancient Roman baths and Circus Maximus which once hosted the famous chariot races. We will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the largest catholic Marian church in Italy and afterwards have time to see the relic of the manger from Bethlehem in which the baby Jesus was lain.
We will return to our hotel and later have dinner in a typical Roman restaurant (payable locally).
Thursday, 10th October
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the 17th century Basilica of St. Agnes in the elegant Piazza Navona and afterwards take a leisurely walk through the historical centre visiting the Pantheon and stopping off at Trevi fountain, not
forgetting to throw a coin in the fountain, ensuring our return to the Eternal City!
We will have the afternoon at leisure for shopping and personal sightseeing before returning to our hotel and in the evening have dinner in a local restaurant (payable locally).
Friday, 11th October
This morning we will depart Rome and travel to Greccio. A tiny spot in the hills of Rieti, also called the ‘Holy Valley’, we will see the monastery on the site of the ancient hermitage where, in 1223, St. Francis of Assisi set up the very first Christmas Crib. We will celebrate Mass and afterwards have free time for lunch.
In the afternoon we will enjoy a drive through the ‘Green Heart of Italy’ arriving in the town of Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. We will check into the four-star Hotel Dei Priori where we will stay for the following two nights on a half board basis.
Saturday, 12th October
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the nearby Basilica of St. Clare. We will venerate the San Damiano cross and later visit the crypt.
After free time for lunch we will have a guided tour of the medieval town of Assisi as we learn more about the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare. Our tour will end at the Basilica of St. Francis where, after admiring the wonderful frescoes and works of the artists Cimabue, Giotto and Simone Martini we will have time for private prayer at the tomb of St. Francis.
With the location of our hotel in the centre of Assisi we can stroll back to our hotel at our leisure. After evening meal, we will transfer to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli to participate in the weekly torchlight procession.
Sunday, 13th October
This morning we will celebrate the closing Mass of our pilgrimage in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. We will visit the Chapel of the Porziuncola where the Franciscan Order was born, the Chapel of the Transito where St. Francis died and see the famous Rose Garden.
After time at leisure for lunch we will depart Assisi and drive through the picturesque countryside towards Ciampino airport for our return flight to Dublin, as we return to our homes, filled with a sense of tranquility, rejuvenation and peace in our hearts.
Please note that due to increased traffic restrictions in Rome, arrival at the main tourist attractions may only be possible on foot.