Marian Shrines of Europe

12 days / 11 nights


Once arrived in Santiago de Compostela airport we will meet our tour escort who will accompany us throughout our journey. Santiago grew to become one of the premier pilgrimage centers in Christendom, rivaled only by the Holy Land and Rome. Millions of pilgrims traversed the continent of Europe to come here, often after great personal and physical sacrifice. Afternoon guided visit. Dinner and overnight.

After breakfast we continue our journey to Leon, the capital of the old kingdom bearing its name inserted in the court of arms of Spain. Steeped in centuries of history, León was founded in the first century AD as a Roman encampment, combining stunning historical architecture with an irresistible energy.

Some of the Roman ramparts are still evident, but the chief treasures are the Basilica of San Isidoro, considered among the most important Romanesque monuments in Spain, whose highlight is the adjoining Panteón Real, the Royal Pantheon (called the Sistine Chapel of Romanesque art); the Gothic Santa María Cathedral (called Pulchra Leonina) and the Monastery of San Marcos, former home of the Knights of Santiago. After the visit departure to the city of Burgos, the historic capital of Old Castile where will admire the magnificent limestone Cathedral. Dinner and overnight.

After breakfast depart from Burgos, heading to Lourdes, France. En route stop in Loyola, the birthplace of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Here, we’ll see the 17th Century Basilica dedicated to St Ignatius. Behind the sanctuary there is the family home of St. Ignatius, which we’ll visit during our stop. The most venerated place in this building is the room where Ignatius was brought following his serious wounding at the Battle of Pamplona, at the age of 30. Later we motor through the Pyrenees Mountains into Lourdes. Here, between the spectacular mountain-river, Gave de Pau, stands the picturesque Lourdes, the birthplace of St Bernadette to whom Our Lady appeared in 1858, near the Grotto of Massabielle. Settle into your hotel for dinner and overnight.

After breakfast attend Mass at the Grotto, the site where 14-year-old Bernadette reportedly experienced 18 visions of the Virgin Mary, and walk in the footsteps of St Bernadette. Since much of the history of Lourdes revolves around the story of Bernadette Soubirous and her family, a visit to Lourdes would be incomplete without a visit to the Boly Mill where the Saint was born and the “Cachot,” an abandoned prison, where the Soubirous family was forced to spend a year. Join your prayers with those of pilgrims from around the world as you pray for the sick, drink water from the miraculous spring or submerge yourself in the healing baths. Experience Christ’s love as you walk the life-sized Stations of the Cross overlooking the holy Grotto and kneel in the chapel built on the very rock of the Grotto, in obedience to the request of the “Immaculate Conception.”  Afternoons are usually for Blessed Sacrament Processions, while in the evening you can join the candlelight procession, carrying candles and torches, as well as a statue of the Virgin Mary and walking for around for 1.5 hours before receiving a blessing from a priest, and it is also possible to be part of the choir or rosary too. Dinner and overnight.

After breakfast transfer to the airport to catch your flight to Paris. Upon arrival, you will meet your driver and transfer to your hotel in Paris. Enjoy free time to rest, relax and explore before we depart for Mass at the Sacre Coeur. Dinner and overnight in Paris.

After breakfast depart for Mass at Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. View the incorrupt body of St. Catherine Labouret, led by her guardian angel to the chapel where the Blessed Virgin displayed a vision of the miraculous medal and, later, the green scapular. The Virgin promised bountiful graces for all who wore these. Our sightseeing tour includes some of the most beautiful and important churches in the world such as Notre Dame Cathedral and Sacre Coeur, and some of the most famous attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, L’Arc de Triomphe, and the Champs Elysees. Return to the hotel for little relax, dinner and overnight.

After breakfast depart for your visit to Louvre Museum, the most famous museum in all over the world. Then, in afternoon , travel by flight(s) to Rome. Upon arrival your escort will warmly greet and welcome you to Italy. Transfer to your hotel and enjoy a free afternoon for rest, relax, or exploration.  You tour escort can suggest sights or walks for you to enjoy.

Wake up in Eternal City, one of the greatest centers of Western Civilization and the first truly cosmopolitan city on earth! It is also spiritual capital for all the Catholics around the world.  Today is truly a day we will have in our minds for many years to come.  This morning we go to Vatican City to attend the weekly Papal Audience or Blessing given by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI (pending papal schedule).  Following the audience visit of the Vatican Museums, a group of most impressive edifices with hundreds of galleries filled with art treasure. See awe-inspiring relics and works of art donated throughout centuries as tributes of faith. We’ll cover The Tapestry Gallery, The Raphael Rooms and the most overwhelming Sistine Chapel, and Michelangelo’s Masterpiece, restored mural of the Last Judgment. Later, enter the largest church in Christendom St Peter’s Basilica, built on the site where St Peter was martyred. Unsurpassed in beauty, a monument to the long history of the Catholic Church, to which pilgrims come from around the world, St Peter’s is the grandest of the world’s churches where you can also admire Michelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s amazing bronze canopy. We will also visit the grave of Pope John Paul II located at the Vatican. Before dinner, we’ll have some time at leisure, to explore your own paths, to shop, or just to sit in one of the outside cafes and watch the world going by.

We leave the Eternal City and head south, crossing through the Roman countryside with its villas and vineyards, stopping at the Abbey of Monte Cassino, a beautiful town founded by St. Benedict in 529. Continue through the countryside heading east to Padre Pio’s town of San Giovanni Rotondo. Dinner and overnight in San Giovanni Rotondo.

After breakfast we embark on a drive up the Adriatic coast to Lanciano where we will see the Eucharistic Miracle and celebrate Mass. After we will continue to Ortona, where St. Thomas is buried. He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel. We then continue on to the great Marian shrine of Loreto to visit the Holy House of Nazareth and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto. More than 50 popes have made a pilgrimage to the house transported by angels to this hill in central Italy in 1294. The Holy House of Mary is believed to be the very home where the Virgin Mary lived, conceived and raise Jesus. Celebrate the Holy Mass in the large basilica built around the shrine. Continue to Assisi for dinner and overnight.

After breakfast we will visit the tomb of St Francis, founder of the Franciscan family, Patron Saint of ecology, inspiration to thousands, claimed by people of all faiths as well. Contained within the huge 13th century Basilica there are many of the saint’s possessions and a series of frescoes depicting his life. You may kneel before the crucifix from which Jesus spoke to St Francis, asking him to rebuild His church. On the opposite side of Assisi from that of San Francis’ we can admire the Church of St Clare, early follower of Saint Francis of Assisi and best known as the foundress of the Poor Clares, the female order of the Franciscans, to see the saint’s incorrupt body. Afternoon at your leisure. Dinner and overnight.

We bid farewell to our new friends and to a pilgrimage which will be in our memories and heart for a long time to come. Early departure from Assisi for Florence (or Rome) Airport for our return flight to the USA. Arrivederci Italia!

 

 

 

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