DAY 1 – Monday, 7th September
This morning we will depart Dublin to Rome with Ryanair. Upon arrival we will meet our tour guide and have lunch in a local restaurant (payable locally). We will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Irish College and afterwards enjoy a tour of what is the last of many Irish Colleges that were once scattered over Europe.
Being the cradle of the Catholic Church, Rome has many sacred places of worship. This afternoon we will visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the “Mother Church of all churches” and seat of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis and afterwards climb the Holy Stairs in the traditional manner.
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 the four star Grand Hotel Fleming where we will stay for two nights on a bed and breakfast basis.
DAY 2 – Tuesday, 8th September
After morning Mass, we will enjoy a guided tour of the greatest of the city’s monumental basilicas, St. Peter’s Basilica. Inside we will see the unique collection or artistic masterpieces, amongst which is Michelangelo’s famous Pietá and have time for private prayer at the tombs of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII.
In the afternoon we will visit the historical centre of Rome where we will see the world-famous Pantheon and stop at Trevi fountain to throw a coin, ensuring our return to the “Eternal City.”
DAY 3 – Wednesday, 9th September
This morning we will attend the Papal Audience in Rome and afterwards drive through the picturesque countryside through the ‘Green Heart of Italy’ before arriving in Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare, and where we will stay for the following two nights on a half board basis.
We will celebrate afternoon Mass in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and later visit the chapel of the Porziuncola where the Franciscan Order began and the famous Rose Garden.
DAY 4 – Thursday, 10th September
After breakfast we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of St. Clare and afterwards have time for prayer before the Cross of San Damiano. We will enjoy a guided walking tour of the medieval town which will include a visit to the Basilica of St. Francis where we will have time to admire the wonderful works of Giotto, Cimabue and Simone Martini.
The remainder of the afternoon we will have at leisure for shopping and personal sightseeing.
DAY 5 – Friday, 11th September
This morning we will depart Assisi and drive along the Adriatic Coast before arriving in Lanciano, site of the first Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church. After free time for lunch, we will celebrate Mass in the Church of St. Francis and afterwards venerate the relics of the eucharistic miracle. We will continue to San Giovanni Rotondo where we will stay for the following three nights on a full board basis.
DAY 6 – Saturday, 12th September
This morning we will begin to learn of the life of Padre Pio – the humble friar who received the gift of the stigmata and bore the wounds of Christ for over fifty years. We will celebrate Mass in the ancient church where he spent many hours each day hearing the confessions of those who had travelled from near and far and afterwards in the English Office receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by Padre Pio.
In the afternoon we will continue in the footsteps of the saint, visiting the friary where he lived and died and have the opportunity to venerate the crucifix of the stigmata. Our day will culminate with a visit to the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina and crypt where we will have time for private prayer before the mortal remains of this great saint of our time.
This evening we will have the opportunity to participate in the Marian Torchlight Procession as we honour the Madonna, for whom St. Pio had a great devotion.
DAY 7 – Sunday, 13th September
After breakfast we will drive to the town of Monte Sant’Angelo, home to the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel – a true place of pardon and prayer. We will celebrate Mass and afterwards have time to wander the cobbled streets of the unique town with its quaint white-washed houses.
In the afternoon we will enjoy a guided tour of the hospital, “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza”, the greatest creation of Padre Pio which is today one of the most important research centres in Europe. 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.
DAY 8 – Monday, 14th September
This morning we will check out of our hotel and drive to Naples airport for our return flight to Dublin returning to our homes, filled with a sense of tranquillity, rejuvenation and peace in our hearts.