This morning we will depart from Dublin to Naples. In the arrivals hall we will be greeted by our Marian Pilgrimages guide and driver who will remain with us for the duration of our pilgrimage. We will catch our first glimpse of the picturesque countryside as we drive to Pietrelcina, birthplace of Padre Pio.
After free time for lunch, we will begin to learn of the early years of Francesco Forgione (the future Padre Pio) with a guided tour of the town, visiting the home of the Forgione family where baby Francesco was born and the Church of Sant ‘Anna where he was baptised. In the Church of the Holy Family, we will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage and afterwards in nearby Piana Romana see the farmhouse of the family and have time for prayer before the tree beneath which Padre Pio received the first signs of the stigmata. As we continue our drive to San Giovanni Rotondo, the diversity of this stunning country will become evident with its breath-taking and contrasting landscapes.
Arriving at our hotel, located just a five-minute walk from the sanctuary, we will check into our rooms and come together for evening meal.
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the ancient Church of Our Lady of Grace where Padre Pio spent many hours each day hearing confessions and afterwards in the English Office will receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the capuchin friar.
After lunch, we will walk in the footsteps of Padre Pio during his time in San Giovanni Rotondo. Visiting the capuchin friary will allow us to learn more about the “poor friar who prays” as he often described himself. Here we will have the opportunity to see the cell once occupied by the humble friar and the crucifix before which he received the stigmata.
Our day will conclude with a visit to the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina where we will have time for private prayer before the mortal remains of the great saint of our time.
After breakfast we will drive to the town of Monte Sant’Angelo, home to the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel. In the sacred cave we will celebrate Mass and afterwards have time to stroll through the cobbled streets of this unique town with its quaint white-washed houses. Before returning to San Giovanni Rotondo for lunch, we will visit the nearby St. Matthew’s monastery where we will receive a blessing with the relic of St. Matthew and Holy Oil.
This afternoon we will walk the Way of the Cross which allows us as Christians, to pause and enter reflectively into those last moments of Jesus's journey of love.
In 1956 Padre Pio presented to the world his greatest gift, “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” which today is now one of the most important hospitals in Europe. After morning Mass we will learn of the history behind what is regarded as Padre Pio’s greatest miracle.
We will have the afternoon at leisure for confessions or to return to the crypt of St. Pio.
This morning we will depart San Giovanni Rotondo and enjoy fine views of the Adriatic Coast as we drive to the town of Lanciano. We will visit the Church of San Francesco and after time for private prayer, venerate the relics of the first Eucharistic Miracle in the history of the Catholic Church.
After free time for lunch we will continue our drive along the coast before arriving in the town of Loreto. The most treasured and venerated shrine of Our Lady throughout the world is that of the Holy House of Nazareth.
According to tradition, the Holy House is part of the Virgin Mary's house, which was transported by angels from Nazareth, arriving in Loreto on the 10th of December 1294.
To coincide with the centenary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto been proclaimed “principal Patroness to God for all aircraft and air travel”, Pope Francis declared 2020 as a Jubilee Year in Loreto. Due to the restrictions during 2020, in an extraordinary gesture and displaying His closeness to the shrine and devotees of Our Lady of Loreto, Pope Francis has extended the Jubilee Year until the 8th of December 2021. This afternoon we will have the privilege of celebrating Mass in Loreto during this special Jubilee Year.
Our evening drive will take us through the “Green Heart of Italy”, to the medieval town of Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. Upon arriving at our hotel and checking into our rooms there will be some time to unpack and relax before evening meal.
After morning Mass in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, we will visit the Chapel of the Porziuncola, where Francis understood his true calling and received Claire into the order - a fitting place from which to begin our pilgrimage in Assisi. We will have time for prayer and afterwards see the Chapel of the Transito where St. Francis died and the famous Rose Garden.
The story of St. Francis is an impressive story that has touched the hearts of many through the centuries and continues to do so. No more is this evident than in the recently beatified Carlo Acutis. Just like Francis, Carlo liked nothing more than to help the poor and less fortunate than himself. Such was Carlo’s love for St. Francis and the town of Assisi that he requested to be buried in the birthplace of the great saint.
After free time for lunch, we will visit the Sanctuary of Spoliation and will have time for prayer before the remains of Blessed Carlo Acutis. During our walking tour of the medieval town of Assisi we will learn how the young Francis and Clare gave up their lavish lifestyles in favour of a life of prayer. We will visit both the basilicas dedicated to the great saints and have time for private prayer and sightseeing.
This morning we will celebrate the final mass of our pilgrimage at the Church of San Damiano. Located in a beautiful setting just outside the walls of Assisi, the church and convent is the place where Francis received his miraculous calling in 1205 and where Clare died in 1253 – an important stop on a pilgrimage to the Franciscan Holy City. After a tour of the convent, we will have time at leisure for lunch and in the afternoon drive to Rome as we return to our homes filled with a sense of peace, tranquillity, and joy in our hearts.