Sunday, 7th June
This morning we will depart from London, Stansted to Rome with Ryanair. Upon arrival we will meet our tour escort and have lunch in a local restaurant (payable locally). We will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the “Mother Church of all churches” and seat of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, and afterwards have the opportunity to climb the Holy Stairs in the traditional manner.
As we drive to our accommodation we will catch our first glimpse of the many ancient monuments, evidence that the “Eternal City” has a history and an appeal like no other city in the world. We will check into the Auxilium Christianorum, located within walking distance of the Vatican, where we will stay for two nights on a bed and breakfast basis.
Monday, 8th June
After morning Mass, we will enjoy a guided tour of the greatest of the city’s monumental basilicas, St. Peter’s Basilica. Inside we will see the unique collection of artistic masterpieces, amongst which is Michelangelo’s famous Pietá and afterwards have time for private prayer at the tombs of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII.
This afternoon we will enjoy free time for lunch in the elegant Piazza Navona and afterwards visit the historical centre of Rome where we will see the world-famous Pantheon and Trevi fountain to throw a coin, ensuring our return to the “Eternal City.”
Tuesday, 9th June
This morning we will depart Rome and drive to the hilltop town of Cascia, home to St. Rita for over forty years. After free time for lunch 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 celebrate Mass in the Basilica of St. Rita and have time for private prayer before the remains of this great saint. As we drive to the town of Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare, we will enjoy the wonderful landscapes and tranquil surroundings of this stunning part of Italy.
Wednesday, 10th June
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and afterwards enjoy a tour of the basilica where we will see the wonderful frescoes and works of the artists Cimabue, Giotto and Simone Martini. We will take a step back in time, learning more of the life of St. Francis, as we enjoy a guided tour of the medieval town. Our tour will finish at the Basilica of St. Clare where we will venerate the San Damiano cross and later visit the crypt. After time at leisure for lunch and private sightseeing, we will visit the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and the ancient Chapel of the Porziuncola where the Franciscan Order was born.
Thursday, 11th June
After breakfast we will depart Assisi and drive to the town of Loreto. We will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto, one of the most revered Marian shrines in the world. After free time for lunch, we will enjoy beautiful views of the Adriatic Coast as we drive to the town of Lanciano, where during our visit to the Church of St. Francis, we will venerate the relics of the Eucharistic Miracle. Time-permitting, we will visit the town of Manoppello where we will visit the Basilica of the Holy Face, home to the mysterious cloth believed to display the true image of Our Lords Face imprinted on the Veil of Veronica. We will learn more of the history behind the arrival of the veil in the town of Manoppello and have time for prayer. Afterwards we will continue our journey to our destination of San Giovanni Rotondo, home to Padre Pio for over fifty years.
Friday, 12th June
This morning we will begin to learn of the life of Padre Pio – the humble friar who received the gift of the stigmata and bore the wounds of Christ for over fifty years. We will celebrate Mass in the ancient church where he spent many hours each day hearing the confessions of those who had travelled from near and far and afterwards in the English Office receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by Padre Pio.
In the afternoon we will continue in the footsteps of the saint, visiting the friary where he lived and died and have the opportunity to venerate the crucifix of the stigmata. Our day will culminate with a visit to the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina and crypt where we will have time for private prayer before the mortal remains of this great saint of our time.
Saturday, 13th June
After breakfast we will drive to the town of Monte Sant’Angelo, home to the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel – a true place of pardon and prayer. We will celebrate Mass and afterwards have time to wander the cobbled streets of this unique town with its quaint white-washed houses.
In the afternoon 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.
This evening we will have the opportunity to participate in the Marian Torchlight Procession as we honour the Madonna, for whom St. Pio had a great devotion.
Sunday, 14th June
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the hospital, “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” and afterwards have a tour of what is considered by many as Padre Pio’s greatest creation. After a taste of typical local products in the nearby Masseria Calderoso we will enjoy the unique landscape of Puglia with its century-old olive trees as we drive towards the city of Bari where we will have the opportunity to visit the famous Basilica of St. Nicholas of Bari and afterwards have time at leisure for private sightseeing before we transfer to Bari airport for our flight to London, as we return to our homes filled with a sense of gratitude, joy and peace in our hearts.