DAY 1 - Wednesday, 7th July
This morning we will depart Dublin airport to Rome with Ryanair. Upon arrival we will meet our tour guide and get our first glimpse of the “Eternal City” as we drive into Rome. After free time for lunch 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.
We will see some of the many ancient monuments, evidence that Rome has a history and an appeal like no other city in the world. We will check into our hotel where we will stay for the first night of our pilgrimage.
DAY 2 - Thursday, 8th July
This morning we will enjoy a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest temples of Christendom, where we will see impressive works of art such as Bernini’s baldachin, the famous Pietà statue by Michelangelo and the statue of St. Peter on his throne. After time at leisure to soak up the atmosphere of St. Peter’s Square, we will depart Rome and drive through the countryside before arriving in the ‘Green Heart of Italy’ – the beautiful region of Umbria.
Upon arrival in Cascia, home to St. Rita for over forty years, we will have lunch in our hotel and afterwards begin our pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Rita with a visit to her birthplace of Roccaporena where we will learn about the life of St. Rita as a daughter, wife, mother and widow. We will visit the small chapel which was once her home, see the “Scoglio” – the sacred rock where tradition has it that Rita ascended to pray and feel closer to God and the Rose Garden where we will hear about the famous miracle of the Rose and two figs. We will celebrate Mass in Roccaporena and afterwards return to Cascia for our evening meal.
DAY 3 - Friday, 9th July
After breakfast we will visit the monastery where St. Rita lived as an Augustinian nun, In the courtyard we will see the famous well where Rita drew water each day and the vigorous vine with its white grapes which have become the symbol of the obedience of Saint Rita and her spiritual fruitfulness. We will end our morning with the celebration of Mass in the Basilica of St. Rita and will have time for private prayer before the remains of this great saint. We will have the afternoon at leisure to stroll through the narrow streets of this quaint town or to relax and enjoy the wonderful landscapes and tranquil surroundings.
DAY 4 – Saturday, 10th July
After breakfast we will depart Cascia and drive to the town of Lanciano, site of the first Eucharistic Miracle of the catholic church. We will celebrate Mass in the Church of St. Francis and afterwards venerate the relics of the eucharistic miracle.
After free time for lunch we will enjoy wonderful views of the Adriatic Coast as we drive to our destination of San Giovanni Rotondo, home to Padre Pio for over fifty years.
DAY 5 – Sunday, 11th July
This morning we will celebrate Mass in 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 and afterwards we will meet with one of the capuchin friars as we learn more of the life of St. Pio and receive have a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the humble friar.
In the afternoon we will visit the capuchin friary and see the cell where Padre Pio lived and died, the window from which he blessed the faithful and the crucifix before which he received the gift of the stigmata. Our afternoon 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 this great saint of our time.
DAY 6 – Monday, 12th July
This morning we will celebrate Mass at the hospital, “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza”. We will learn of how Padre Pio, despite himself enduring great pain and suffering, through the realisation of this impressive hospital, helped relieve the sick and troubled from their own individual sufferings. After Mass 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 to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
DAY 7 – Tuesday, 13th July
After breakfast we will drive to the town of Monte Sant’Angelo, home to the oldest shrine in western Europe dedicated to the Archangel Michael. We will celebrate Mass in the sacred cave and afterwards have time to take a stroll through this magical town. We will drive the short distance to St. Matthew’s monastery and have a blessing with the relic of St. Matthew and holy oils before returning to our hotel for lunch.
We will have the afternoon for private prayer at the crypt of St. Pio.
DAY 8 – Wednesday, 14th July
This morning we will leave San Giovanni Rotondo and enjoy the contrasting landscapes as we drive to the town of Pietrelcina, birthplace of St. Pio. After the celebration of Mass, we will enjoy a walking tour of the town visiting the Forgione family home where St. Pio was born, the church of Sant ’Anna where he was baptised and the parish church where the newly ordained Padre Pio celebrated his first Mass.
After free time for lunch, as we will drive towards Naples, we will visit the Shrine of St. Philomena - the young Greek princess who was martyred at just 13 years of age. We will learn of the brief life of Philomena, her martyrdom and the many miracles that have been reported through her intercession. After a blessing with the relic of St. Philomena and time for prayer we will continue our drive to Naples airport as we return to our homes filled a sense of tranquillity, rejuvenation and peace in our hearts.