DAY 1 � Arrive Assisi
This morning we will depart from Dublin to Rome. 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 the 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. The Chapel of the Porziuncola, where Francis understood his true calling and received Clare into the order, is a fitting place from which to begin our pilgrimage. We will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and afterwards have time for prayer in the Chapel of the Porziuncola, see the Chapel of the Transito where St. Francis died and the famous Rose Garden.
DAY 2 � St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare of Assisi & Blessed Carlo Acutis
The story of St. Francis of Assisi 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. He had a great love for Jesus and, as Francis travelled on foot to preach the Gospel, Carlo chose the computer as a means of evangelisation. 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. This morning we will celebrate Mass at the Sanctuary of the Renunciation and afterwards have time for prayer at the tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis.
We will enjoy a guided walking tour of the medieval town of Assisi, beginning at the Basilica of St. Clare. As we walk through the town we will hear of the lives of Francis and Clare how they both relinquished lavish lifestyles in favour of a life of prayer. Our guided tour will conclude at the impressive Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi where we can admire the breath-taking frescoes of Cimabue, Giotto, and Simone Martini before arriving at the crypt where we will have time for prayer before the tomb of the great saint.
The remainder of the afternoon at leisure will give us the opportunity to explore the town or to simply sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere of such wonderful surroundings.
DAY 3 - St. Angela of Foligno & St. Rita of Cascia
After breakfast we will depart Assisi and travel to the town of Foligno. We will visit the Church of St. Francis and pray at the tomb of St. Angela of Foligno, one of the first Italian mystics. Following a mystical experience, Angela became a member of the Franciscan Third Order. When her husband died, she gave away her possessions and started a community of tertiaries devoted to the care of the needy. Her visions, which were recorded by her confessor, demonstrated a mature mystical union with Christ and the gift of revelation. Many miracles have been reported at the tomb of St. Angela of Foligno and the Church of St. Francis has become an important place of pilgrimage. After time for private prayer, we will drive to the town of Cascia, home to St. Rita, Saint of the Impossible. Upon arrival at our hotel, we will check into our rooms and later have lunch. During our afternoon tour of Cascia we will learn about the life of St. Rita as a daughter, wife, mother, and widow and afterwards visit the monastery into which Rita was miraculously transported and remained for forty years as a member of the Order of Augustinian nuns.
DAY 4 - St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows & Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano
Today we will enjoy the wonderful scenery as we depart Cascia and drive to the Sanctuary of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, patron saint of youth, students and those studying for the priesthood. We will celebrate Mass at St. Gabriel�s Chapel, the site of resounding miracles which began to be reported in 1892, the year of his canonization. The sanctuary rises upon the remains of a previous Franciscan convent, built - according to tradition - by Saint Francis himself during his passage through the Abruzzo region. Millions of pilgrims visit the sanctuary each year to see the saint's burial place and the monastic house in which he lived out his final years.
After free time for lunch, we will continue our drive along the Adriatic Coast to the town of Lanciano. We will venerate the relics of the first Eucharistic Miracle in the history of the Catholic Church and have time for private prayer.
Driving towards San Giovanni Rotondo we will begin to learn of the early years of Padre Pio and how he fulfilled his dream to follow St. Francis and join the Capuchin Franciscan Order. As we arrive at our hotel, located just a five-minute walk from the sanctuary, we will check into our rooms and have our evening meal.
DAY 5 � St. Pio of Pietrelcina
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 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.
DAY 6 � St. Michael the Archangel & St. Matthew�s Monastery
Today we will follow the path taken by pilgrims through the centuries. St. John Paul II, St. Pio of Pietrelcina and Blessed Carlo Acutis are amongst many pilgrims who have visited the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel. As we drive to the town of Monte Sant�Angelo we will hear of the apparitions of the Archangel Michael and on arrival celebrate Mass in the sacred cave. Afterwards we will enjoy a stroll through this unique town with its cobbled streets and quaint, white-washed houses. Before returning to San Giovanni Rotondo for lunch, we will visit the nearby St. Matthew�s monastery and receive a blessing with the relic of St. Matthew and Holy Oil.
Walking the Way of the Cross in the afternoon will allow us as Christians, to pause and enter reflectively into those last moments of Jesus�s journey of love.
DAY 7 � St. Gerard Majella & St. Philomena
This morning we will depart San Giovanni Rotondo and travel to the Sanctuary of St. Gerard Majella, patron saint of expectant mothers and unborn children. After morning Mass, we will enjoy a tour of the sanctuary visiting the �Room of the bows� surrounded by a collection of photos of young babies, evidence of St. Gerard Majella�s powerful intercession: overcoming infertility, receiving the gift of motherhood, getting through a difficult pregnancy, a safe delivery, a healthy baby, to name but a few.
In the afternoon we will visit the nearby Shrine of St. Philomena, the Greek Princess and Virgin Martyr who died at just 13 years of age. Our tour of the museum will reveal details of a series of events which led to her untimely death and of the many miracles that have occurred since the translation of her remains to this beautiful sanctuary. After a blessing with the relic of St. Philomena we will have time for private prayer before checking into our hotel in nearby Avellino where we will spend the last night of our pilgrimage.
DAY 8 � Return home
This morning we will check out of our hotel and drive to Naples airport for our return flight to Dublin as we return to our homes, filled with a sense of tranquillity, rejuvenation, and peace in our hearts.