Wednesday, 14th October
We will depart in the afternoon from Dublin to Mostar. On arrival, we will drive the short distance to this most Blessed village, Medjugorje and meet our host family.
Thursday, 15th October
We start our day with breakfast before attending 10:00am mass, which is intended for English-speaking pilgrims, in the Church of St. James. The Church of St. James is placed under patronage of St. James the Apostle, who is patron saint of pilgrims. We do not move very far and usually meet at the shrine of Our Lady of Peace for our opening meeting where the guides will share with us the history of the place, introduce us to the shrine and take us through the week, and through their words and experiences enlighten us to the messages and intentions of Our Lady. We break for lunch where restaurants are in abundance and boast some of the best steaks and pizza.
The afternoon takes us to Blue Cross, a place of many apparitions of Our Lady. It is situated at the base of Apparition Hill where Our Lady appeared to the children and where they were hiding from the communist police at the beginning of the apparitions. Many pilgrims venture here to bask in the peace that emanates from this special area. From Blue Cross, we walk to Vicka‘s old house. Vicka is one of the six Medjugorje visionaries and we visit her old family house to see and to pray in the room where she had apparitions over a long period.
After dinner, we can attend the evening prayer programme which begins with the rosary followed by Holy Mass and depending on the day, finishing with adoration.
Friday, 16th October
This morning after breakfast, we gather at the statue of Our Lady to walk through the vineyards, to the Hill of Apparitions (Podbrdo). This has been the traditional route taken by millions of pilgrims. The guides regale us with accounts of the first days of the apparitions, especially the first seven days, and tell us of the great spiritual journey the visionaries undertook. We simply climb, in prayer, to the site of the first apparition, the place where Our Lady first appeared to six frightened children in June of 1981.The Joyful Mysteries greet us at several points of our climb where we pray for a short time. This afternoon there is an optional tour to Cenacolo, which is a community for recovering drug addicts. There is a special lesson to be learned from the residents here, by their hard work, perseverance and prayer. After dinner, we attend the evening programme.
Saturday, 17th October
Our day begins with breakfast and we then meet at the base of Cross Mountain (Krizevac) to start our ascent. We pray the Stations of the Cross as we make our way to the summit. Our journey is rewarded by taking time for reflection and prayer by the cross located at the top of the mountain. In 1933, the parish of St. James erected a large concrete cross to commemorate the 1900th Anniversary of Jesus’ passion and death on the Cross. We make our descent in time for holy Mass.
In the afternoon, following our climb, we will have some free time. This evening we have a special treat as our programme director, David Parkes, performs for us in concert with an Evening of prayer through song. David is an internationally acclaimed singer and often travels worldwide singing the word of Our Lord.
Sunday, 18th October
After morning Mass, we will have the day at leisure for private prayer and reflection. In the afternoon we will depart Medjugorje and travel to Split for our overnight sailing to Ancona.
Monday, 19th October
Upon arrival in Ancona we will meet our guide and enjoy a drive along the Adriatic Coast before arriving in the town of Lanciano. We will celebrate Mass in the Church of St. Francis and afterwards venerate the relics of the eucharistic miracle which date back to the 8th century. After free time for lunch we will continue onto our destination of San Giovanni Rotondo, home to Padre Pio for over fifty years.
After checking into our hotel, we will visit the English Office where we will hear of the life of St. Pio and receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the humble friar.
Tuesday, 20th October
This morning we will enjoy a guided tour of the sanctuary. We will visit the ancient Church of Our Lady of Grace, the heart of the sanctuary, where Padre Pio celebrated Mass, heard confessions and received the gift of the stigmata. Afterwards we will enjoy a visit to the capuchin friary where we will see the cell where Padre Pio lived and died and the window from which he blessed the faithful. Our morning will end at the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina where we can admire the wonderful mosaics depicting the lives of St. Pio and St. Francis of Assisi before we arrive at the crypt where we will venerate the remains of St. Pio.
In the afternoon we will drive to the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel, the oldest shrine in western Europe dedicated to the Archangel Michael. We will celebrate Mass at the sacred cave and afterwards have time at leisure to stroll through the quaint town with its unique white-washed houses.
Wednesday, 21st October
We will depart San Giovanni Rotondo early this morning and travel to Pietrelcina, birthplace of St. Pio where we will hear of the early years of the young Francesco Forgione and how he overcame many obstacles to fulfil his dream of becoming “a monk with a beard.” We will enjoy a walk through the town, visiting the Forgione family home and the Church of Sant’ Anna where baby Francesco was baptised.
Afterwards we will depart Pietrelcina and drive to Naples airport as we return to our homes, filled with a sense of tranquillity, rejuvenation and peace in our hearts.