Friday, 5th April � Arrive Italy
We will depart in the morning from London Gatwick to Naples airport. On arrival, we will be greeted by our Marian Pilgrimages guide and drive to the town of Pompeii where we will spend the first night of our pilgrimage.
Padre Pio had a great devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii and during his lifetime visited the Basilica of the Virgin of the Holy Rosary. This afternoon we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica and afterwards see the rose, which was sent to the basilica by Padre Pio, just before his death in 1968. After time for private prayer, we will transfer to our hotel and after checking into our rooms, have time to relax before dinner.
Saturday, 6th April - The Town of Pietrelcina � Birthplace of Padre Pio
We will check out of our hotel and as we drive to the town of Pietrelcina, birthplace of Padre Pio, we will begin to learn of the early years of Francesco Forgione and how he realised his dream of becoming a monk with a beard.
Following a walking tour of the town, where we will visit the home of the Forgione family where baby Francesco was born and the Church of Sant �Anna where he was baptised, we will celebrate Mass in the Church of the Nativity.
Following lunch in a local restaurant, we will continue our tour of this region by making a stop in nearby Piana Romana, which was such an integral part of the life of the Forgione Family and where we will 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.
The breath-taking views and contrasting landscapes will make for an enjoyable drive towards San Giovanni Rotondo in the afternoon, arriving at our hotel in the early evening, located within walking distance of the sanctuary, we will check into our rooms and have dinner.
Sunday, 7th April - Divine Mercy Sunday
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Grace (the Old Church) where Padre Pio celebrated Mass and heard confessions. Immediately after our Mass, we will enjoy a guided tour of the capuchin friary, where we will 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 morning schedule of activities will conclude with a visit to the Crypt where we will have time for private prayer before the mortal remains of the great saint of our time.
After lunch we will gather for our guided private group prayer session, the theme of which is:
Padre Pio and the Divine Mercy
Padre Pio was indeed a great model of Mercy and as we close out the year-long celebrations on the occasion of the 21st Anniversary Year of the Canonisation of Padre Pio, we offer devotees of Padre Pio this wonderful opportunity on Divine Mercy Sunday to participate in a guided two-hour prayer session, featuring music and reflections on Padre Pio and the Divine Mercy.
We will have some time at leisure afterwards before coming together for dinner in our hotel.
Monday 8th April - English Office, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, and Padre Pio�s Way of the Cross
After morning Mass, we will visit the renowned English Office where we will hear more on the life of Padre Pio and receive a blessing with the glove and crucifix used by the humble friar.
In 1956 Padre Pio presented to the world his greatest gift, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, the Hospital as it is more commonly known by all, a project that was brought to realisation by Padre Pio during his lifetime. Here, we will have the opportunity to visit the beautiful Museum, which is a treasure-trove of artefacts connected with Padre Pio and the development of this world-renowned medical facility.
After lunch, there will be time at leisure with the opportunity to revisit some of the places associated with Padre Pio, for private prayer and some personal time at the Shrine.
In the evening time we will come together as a group and follow the Way of the Cross in the silence of the Crypt, and in the sacred presence of the Mortal Remains of Padre Pio, recounting the Life of Jesus and the intertwining with the life of Padre Pio as reflected in the Stations of the Cross in San Giovanni Rotondo. Given the Easter Octave Season, we will by Praying the Psalms with Jesus as we walk the way of the cross, entering reflectively into those last moment of Jesus�s journey of love.
Returning to our hotel for dinner, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure.
Tuesday 9th April - Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel and San Giovanni Rotondo Cemetery
After breakfast we will drive to the town of Monte Sant Angelo, home to the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel. We will celebrate Mass in the sacred cave which has been visited through the centuries by countless Popes and Saints.
We will enjoy lunch in a pictureqsue hill-top restaurant in Monte Sant Angelo, with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, following which we will return to San Giovanni Rotondo, stopping off to visit the cemetery of San Giovanni Rotondo where we will have a short private guided prayer session for the Holy Souls in the Cemetery Chapel, following which we will have time for visitation, prayer, and reflection at the tombs of the parents of Padre Pio, Mary Pyle, and our dear friends Fr. Alessio and Fr. Joseph Pius, plus other friars and individuals that were such a part of Padre Pio�s earthly life during his time in San Giovanni Rotondo.
On return to our hotel for dinner, we will have the rest of the evening free to make last minute visits to the Shrine, to avail of some time for personal shopping, and to prepare for our early-morning departure to Naples on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday 10th April - Return home
This morning we will check out of our hotel and drive to Naples airport for our return flight home, returning to our homes filled with the Peace and Hope of Easter, and a sense of tranquillity, rejuvenation, and gratitude in our hearts.
Please note that for flight back to London on 10 April, transfers to the airport will be early morning to facilitate the group travelling to Ireland at 11:00am. The flight to London will depart at 16:35.