Shrines of Italy

10 giorni / 9 notti

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. Your 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 Francesco (pending papal schedule).  Following the audience visit of the Vatican Museums, a group of most impressive edifices with hundreds of galleries filled with art treasures. 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.

This morning we depart for a Christian Rome sightseeing tour which includes:  the Basilica of St. Mary Major, one of the oldest shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, a shrine that contains a relic from the manger of the infant Jesus; the Holy Stairs, the Basilica of  St. John the Lateran, former residence of the popes prior to their return to Rome in 1377;  St Paul Outside the Walls, which houses the remains of St Paul under its main altar; and the Appian Way, the oldest road from Roman times,plus the famous Domino Quo Vadis Chapel; see the ancient Baths of Caracalla, Arch of Drusus;  Tomb of Celilia Metella, and the catacombs of St Callixtus where the early Christians hid themselves to escape persecution. Dinner and overnight.

We leave the Eternal City and head south, cross through the Roman countryside with its villas and vineyards, stopping at the Abbey of Montecassino, 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.

After morning Mass at the tomb of Padre Pio (pending on confirmation), we tour the sanctuary, and we’ll see the old church and the crucifix from which he received the stigmata in 1918. You will see the confessional where Padre Pio spent innumerable hours with a multitude of pilgrims, directing them on their journey toward God. After lunch on own depart for Monte Sant’Angelo to have a visit to the Grotto of Michael the Archangel. Six different popes, St Francis and at least four other saints have knelt in prayer at this grotto, seeking the protection of St Michael. Return to San Giovanni Rotondo for dinner and overnight.

After breakfast depart for the Adriatic coast to Lanciano where we will see the Eucharistic Miracle and celebrate Mass. We then continue on to the great Marian shrine of Loreto to visit the Holy House of Nazareth and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto. Tradition has it that this is the house in which Mary first prayed the Magnificat, in which Jesus grew to manhood, and in which the Holy Family lived.  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.

This morning, after breakfast, depart for the beautiful town of Siena, the birthplace of Saints Catherine and Bernardine and one of Italy’s loveliest medieval cities. Here we will stroll along Piazza Del Campo, one of Italy’s finest squares and visit the Cathedral and the Basilica of St. Francis, linked to the arrival of the Franciscan monks in Siena in 1226, containing the miraculous consecrated hosts that remained intact since 1730. View the incorrupt head of St. Catherine at the Basilica of St. Dominic. Return to Assisi for dinner and overnight.

Early departure from Assisi for Rome airport for our return flight home.


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