Day 8—Rome—Vatican—Basilica / Sistine Chapel
The day will begin with Mass and then a guided visit of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. At 22,067 square meters, St. Peter’s is the world’s largest church; regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines, it is a popular place of pilgrimage, even though it is neither the Mother Church nor a cathedral (San Giovanni in Laterano is both). It is hard to grasp its proportions until you have seen it. Particularly impressive is its height, 136 meters from the ground to the top of the magnificent dome, the tallest in the world. According to Catholic tradition, the Basilica is the burial site of the apostle St. Peter, the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. St. Peter's tomb is below the high altar. Many popes have been buried here since the Early Christian period. A church has been on this site since Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, which replaced the basilica of the 4th century, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed in 1626. St. Peter’s Basilica is also famous as a magnificent work of art, to which major Renaissance artists,
including Michelangelo, Bramante, Raffaello, Sangallo and Giacomo della Porta contributed. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the ample staircase and elliptical square surrounded by columns, which “introduces” the basilica, with the façade by Carlo Maderno. Supper included (with wine, water and coffee) and overnight in Rome.
Day 3 – Shrine of St Pio / San Giovanni Rotondo
After breakfast we will begin with a guided visit of the Shrine of Saint Pio, the Gallery of St. Pio, Casa Sollievo Soffrenza (Hospital) and the historic center of San Giovanni Rotondo.
The Shrine of Padre Pio, which centers on his tomb inside the Church of Our Lady of Grace (Santa Maria delle Grazie). Here you can also see his cell, his confessional, the crucifix from which he received the stigmata, and nearly everything he owned or touched, carefully preserved and labeled. Santa Maria delle Grazie (Our Lady of Grace) is a new church built during Padre Pio's lifetime (1956-59) to accommodate the many pilgrims and worshippers attracted to San Giovanni Rotondo. The east wall bears a splendid mosaic.
Click the above link for the full brochure in PDF
Francis was the firs t known Christian to receive the stigmata, the spontaneously appearing wounds on the hands, feet and side of the body corresponding to the torments of Christ on the cross. Known primarily as the birthplace of St. Francis (1182-1226 AD), the town has been a sacred place since long before the Franciscan era. Upon arrival we will visit the Basilica of S. Maria delle Grazie with the Portuncula. The Portuncula is a small church located within the Basilica of Santa Maria degl’Angeli, the place from where the Franciscan movement began. Later we travel up the hill to visit Basilicas of Sts. Clare & Francis. We will visit the chapel of the Cross of San Damiano that spoke to Francis. We will have a full day in Assisi, there will be free time after the tour to return to one of the churches or for leisure. Mass to be announced. Supper included (with wine, water and coffee) and overnight in Assisi.
Behind Santa Maria delle Grazie is the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church, completed in 2004 and considered a notable example of modern architecture. In 1940, Padre Pio began plans to open a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, to be named the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza or Home for the Relief of Suffering. The hospital opened in 1956 and is considered one of the most efficient hospitals in Europe.
Tonight supper (included) and overnight will be in San Giovanni. Mass in SGR.
Day 9—Rome — 3 Major Basilicas and Holy Stair Case of Jerusalem
Today after breakfast will begin our tour of Christian Rome with the Basilica of San Paul Outside the Walls. San Paolo Fuori Le Mura is the second largest basilica of the four. It was founded by the Roman emperor Constantine over the burial place of St. Paul (now under the papal altar), making it a popular pilgrimage site. The huge basilica has maintained the original structure with one nave and four aisles, but it was almost entirely reconstructed in 1823 following a fire. The covered portico that precedes the façade is a Neo-classicist addition from the reconstruction. What remains of the ancient basilica is the interior portion of the apse with the triumphal arch. South of the transept is the cloister, considered one of the most beautiful of the Middle Ages.
"O fortunate witnesses to whom the Blessed God, to confound my disbelief, has wished to reveal Himself in this Most Blessed Sacrament and to render Himself visible to our eyes. Come, brethren, and marvel at our God so close to us. Behold the Flesh and Blood of our most beloved Christ."
Day 2—Pietrelcina/San Giovanni Rotondo
A morning arrival in Italy. We meet our driver and transfer to Pietrelcina, in the Province of Benevento, birthplace of St. Pio. Pietrelcina is a small picturesque town made of winding streets, characteristic homes and beautiful gardens. There are ancient signs of its remote origins and of places that recollect the birth and life of the Holy Monk. Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy. Raised in a pious Catholic family, Francesco entered the friary in 1903 and one year later received the Capuchin habit, taking the name Pio. He was ordained a priest and transferred to several sites until 1916, when he arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he remained for the last 52 years of his life. We will visit the home where Saint Pio lived with his family and the many interesting sites and places that influenced his life. A late afternoon arrival in San Giovanni Rotondo for supper (included) and overnight. Mass today in Pietrelcina.
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Longinus, the centurion who thrust the lance into the side of Jesus, tearing in halves the Heart from which blood and water gushed forth, was from this town. After seeing the events which followed the piercing of Jesus' Heart, the darkening of the sun, and the earthquake, he believed that Christ was the Savior. A more physical sign, however, was that Longinus had poor eyesight, and after having touched his eyes with the water and blood from the side of Jesus, his eyesight was restored. Converted, he gave up the Army and went to Cappadocia where he was martyred for the faith. He is now known as Saint Longinus. His feast is celebrated every March 15.
Mass will be held in the shrine. Afterwards we will have a break for lunch (on your own) before continuing our journey to the City of Sts. Francis & Clare; Assisi. Supper (included) with wine, water and coffee and overnight in Assisi.
Day 7 — Assisi— Orvieto—Rome
Orvieto. Situated high atop a volcanic “mesa”. We will reach the summit of the city by “funicular”. The Duomo: on November 15, 1290, Pope Nicholas IV laid the cornerstone for the present building and dedicated it to the Assumption of the Virgin, a feast for which the city had a long history of special devotion. The Corporal of Bolsena, on view in the Duomo, dates from a Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena in 1263, when a consecrated host began to bleed onto a corporal. In September of 1261 Thomas Aquinas was called to Orvieto as conventual lector responsible for the pastoral formation of the friars. In Orvieto Thomas completed his Summa contra Gentiles, wrote the Catena Aurea, Pope Urban IV, deeply affected by this miracle, commissioned St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the Proper for a Mass and an Office honoring the Holy Eucharist as the Body of Christ. The hymns which St. Thomas wrote included the traditional hymns still widely used in Benediction: the Pange Lingua (with its concluding verses, the Tantum Ergo), the Panis Angelicus, and O Salutaris Hostia. One year after the miracle, in
San Giovanni in Laterano is also the city’s cathedral, seat of the Bishop of Rome. The basilica was reconstructed a few times until the 18th century, when the monumental façade, a two-storied portico supported by giant columns, crowned by 15 seven-meter-high statues, was redesigned.
The Scala Santa / The Holy Stairs are held to be those which led to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, and which Jesus would have ascended on his way to the trial before his Crucifixion. According to tradition, the stairs were brought to Rome by St. Helena in the 4th century. The mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, it is believed that she restored many holy sites in the Holy Land and discovered the True Cross, in addition to other relics.
The stairs, which are near the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, were opened to the public approximately 400 years ago. They are made of white marble, but are encased in wood for protection. In places, there are squares cut out of the wood where pilgrims can reach down to touch the marble. There are also glass cases protecting spots believed to have marks of the bloody footprint of Christ.
Pilgrims who visit the stairs must ascend them on their knees as a sign of piety and reverence, though they can choose how to pray, whether by saying a short prayer on each step or meditating on the Passion of Christ.
This evening a pizza supper is included (with wine, water and coffee) and overnight in Rome.
The city of Assisi, in the rolling hills of Umbria, stands the exceptionally well-preserved medieval town of Assisi. St. Francis was born in Assisi in 1182 the son of a well-to-do cloth merchant. A lively, even riotous youth who dreamed of achieving military glory, Francis abandoned his worldly ambitions at the age of 19 while a prisoner of war in Perugia. He, thereafter, became a mystic who experienced visions of Christ and Mary, composed the first poems in the Italian language about the beauties of nature, and in 1210 founded the famous order of mendicant friars known as the Franciscans.
Piazza Navona: The main attraction of Piazza Navona is the trio of fountains that adorn the square. The central and largest fountain is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). It was constructed between 1647 and 1651 on request of Pope Innocent X.
Much of today's tour will be on foot. Please wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner (included) with music, wine, water and coffee included in Rome. Overnight will be in Rome.
Today, we bid not farewell, but Arrivederci (see you again) to Italy as we transfer to Leonardo DaVinci Airport in Fiumecino. Upon boarding our flight homebound, not only will we be carrying many kilos of Italy in our luggage, but many memories of a Spiritual journey, fun days, wonderfully interesting meals shared with friends, a bit more culture to add to our already cultured consciousness, but above all, the recollection of an impressive and wonderful journey/pilgrimage on the ITALIAN PENINSULA. Dinner aloft and overnight at HOME!!!
Day 5—San Giovanni Rotondo / Lanciano / Assisi
This morning after breakfast we will head north to the city of Lanciano to visit the site of the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano. A Basilian monk, wise in the ways of the world, but not in the ways of faith, was having a trying time with his belief in the real presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. He prayed constantly for relief from his doubts, and from the fear that he was losing his vocation. He suffered through the routine of his priesthood day after day, with these doubts gnawing at him. One morning in the church dedicated to Saints Legontian and Domitian in Lanciano, while the Basilian monk was doubting the real and substantial presence of the Flesh and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the consecrated Holy Species, he began celebrating Mass in the Latin rite with a host of unleavened bread. During the two-fold consecration, as he held the Holy Host and Wine, his hand and body began to shake. He stood for a long time with his back to the people, and then slowly turned around to them. He said:
Day 10 - Sightseeing—Monumental and Ancient Rome
Today, after breakfast, we will begin our tour of some of the most important and popular sites of Ancient & Monumental Rome.
Coliseum: Located just east of the Roman Forum, the massive stone amphitheater was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Coliseum–officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater–with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights.
Capitoline Hill: The Capitoline Hill is the smallest among the seven hills of Rome. Even though it is the smallest it played a huge part in the religious and political aspects of Rome since the founding of the city center.
Pantheon: The Pantheon is the best preserved building from ancient Rome and was completed in 125 AD in the reign of Hadrian. Its magnificent dome is a lasting testimony to the genius of Roman architects and as the building stands virtually intact it offers a unique opportunity for the modern visitor to step back 2,000 years and experience the glory that was Rome.
Saint Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore) The largest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary, hence the name, and one of the first to be built in her honor, Santa Maria Maggiore is located on Piazza Esquilino, not far from the Termini train station. It is the only basilica among these four to have preserved the Paleochristian structure of the 5th century, even though it underwent several makeovers and additions externally. It closely resembles a 2nd-century imperial basilica, imposing in its aspect, perhaps to signify Rome’s Christian future. Under the high altar is the Crypt of the Nativity, with a crystal reliquary said to contain wood from Jesus’ crib.
Mater et caput of all Rome’s and the world’s Catholic churches, San Giovanni in Laterano is the oldest church of the Western World, founded in the 4th century by Constantine the Great. Dedicated to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, it stands on the piazza by the same name, within Rome’s city center.
August of 1264, Pope Urban IV introduced Aquinas’ composition and issued a papal bull instituting the feast of Corpus Christi. Today we will have mass in the Duomo, a tour and some free time to enjoy the surroundings of this beautiful location. There are many small trattorrias and wine bars for lunches or snacks. Later in the afternoon we will depart for Rome and check into our hotel. Supper (included with wine, water and coffee) at a local restaurant.
Day 1 – Trans-Atlantic Flight
This evening’s trans-Atlantic flight to Rome, Italy will depart from (TBA) International Airport. Meals and entertainment are aloft and (TBA) arrival in Rome. Time schedule TBA.
Spanish Steps: The elegant staircase of 135 steps was inaugurated in the Jubilee Year of 1725 by Pope Benedict XIII, originally used to link the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Church of Trinità dei Monti. The name comes from the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican that has been located in the piazza since the 1600s.
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TRAVEL & TOURS
Fountain of Trevi: It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most beautiful in the world. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. The Trevi Fountain is situated at the end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus.
Day 4 – Monte Sant’Angelo/Cavern of St. Michael
Today we will have a full day's excursion to Monte Sant'Angelo. This quaint village made holy and famous to Christians by Saint Michael the Archangel who appeared here in the 5th Century for the conversion of pagans. It was also the site where the Crusaders came to pay homage before their departures to the east. We will visit the Grotto of Saint Michael the Archangel, a pilgrim site since the 5th Century. The sanctuary has been a popular place of pilgrimage for many centuries: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Gerard Majella, St. William of Vercelli and six popes have made the pilgrimage here to ask for St. Michael's protection. Mass will be celebrated in the grotto. Lunch (on your own) and some free time in Monte Sant'Angelo. Supper (included). Overnight in San Giovanni.
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