Check-in at Dublin Airport for our flight to Naples. On arrival, we will be met by our Joe Walsh tours pilgrimage co-ordinator and transferred by private coach to San Giovanni Rotondo, where we check into the Centro di Spiritualita Padre Pio for three nights with lunch & dinner. En route stop for visit in Pietrelcina, birthplace of St Pio.
Today we visit the Capuchin Friary, the cell where Saint Pio lived and died, the crucifix before which he received the stigmata. We visit the old and new churches and the tomb of St. Pio. We also visit the English Office, where we hear about the extraordinary life of Padre Pio.
This morning we have some time at leisure. After lunch we travel to the nearby town of San Marco in Lamis and visit St. Matthew’s monastery We then continue to Monte Sant’Angelo, the shrine in the cave where the Archangel Michael appeared in the fifth century. A long list of Saints and Popes have visited this cave to pray to the Archangel, among them St. Francis of Assisi, St Pio and St John Paul II. Return to hotel for dinner and overnight.
This morning we depart for Assisi. En route to Assisi we will visit Lanciano, where the first and greatest Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church took place in the eighth century. We continue on to Assisi, where we will check into Hotel Frate Sole for the next two nights. We will have breakfast and evening meal each day at the hotel. This evening we visit the nearby Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels which houses the Porziuncola, the abandoned chapel that St. Francis restored. This was the chapel of St. Francis’s first community and is the cradle of the Franciscan order.
Today we visit Upper Assisi with a walking tour of its main sights. We visit the impressive 13th century Basilica of St Francis, the mother church of the Franciscan order. Construction of the Basilica started a mere two years after the death of St. Francis. This was uncommon at the time but the enthusiasm of the people to create a permanent home for the body of the beloved Francis pushed them to complete the masterpiece of the lower church in just two years, an amazing feat for that era. We also visit the Basilica of St. Clare, foundress of the Order of the Poor Clares. St. Clare followed the teachings of St. Francis by living a life of poverty and humility. Clare died in 1253 and her incorrupt body is in the Basilica. The original San Damiano cross, the cross that Francis was praying before when he received his commission to rebuild the church, is also in this Basilica. Visit also burial place of St Carolos Acutis.
This morning we will depart to Rome. On arrival we will visit the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, built in the fourth century on the spot where the disciple Paul was buried. The remains of St. Paul are housed in a tomb in the Basilica’s crypt. Along the nave of this beautiful basilica, we see mosaics of all the popes, starting with St. Peter and ending with Pope Francis. Continue on to the Hotel il Cantico, where we will stay for 2 nights on a bed and breakfast basis.
Following breakfast today we walk to the Vatican City, where we will have a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica is the ultimate destination of many pilgrims to Rome. It is the centre of Christendom as the tomb of St. Peter lies directly under Michelangelo’s famous dome. In the afternoon we will visit some of Rome’s most favourite sights including the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Trevi fountain. Return to hotel for overnight.
We will have some free time this morning. We will check out of our accommodation and in the afternoon, we visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran. This Basilica is the site of the first church allowed by Emperor Constantine. It is considered the ‘Mother Church’ of Roman Catholicism. It is the Cathedral of Rome and therefore the Church of Rome’s Bishop, Pope Francis. We continue then to visit the Basilica of St. Mary Majors, a beautiful basilica which has magnificent mosaics and one of the first shrines dedicated to Our Lady. Continue on to Rome Fiumicino airport for our evening flight back to Dublin.