On this pilgrimage to meet the Saints of Italy, encounter some of the holiest Catholic sites that Italy has to offer! In Rome, step foot into the four Major Basilicas and many other beautiful churches, see the Square from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, and attend a Papal Audience with his successor, the Pope. In San Giovanni Rotondo, visit sites from the life of St. Padre Pio. Share in the legacy of St. Maria Goretti in Nettuno and St. Benedict at Monte Cassino. See how Christ makes Himself present in the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, and in Loreto, visit the “Holy House,” home of the Holy Family and mysteriously transported to Italy by the holy angels. Close out your pilgrimage with a day of prayer and reflection in the beautiful hometown of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi.
NOTE: Because of the significant amount of physical activity, participants must be able to walk long distances at moderate speed without assistance.
Make your way to your local airport, where you will board your overnight flight(s). Meals will be served on board.
Day 2: Arrival in Rome
Welcome to Rome, also known as "The Eternal City.” Upon landing at Rome airport, claim your baggage and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where your tour guide and/or driver will greet you. Following check-in at the hotel, enjoy some free time to unpack, relax or explore Rome on your own. Your tour escort may suggest places to visit. Later this afternoon, your group will meet in the hotel lobby for a meet and greet with fellow pilgrims and your priest. You will depart together for Mass at the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, where St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, and several popes are buried. Following Mass, you will attend a welcome dinner. After dinner you have to opportunity to join in a walk to St. Peter's Square for the Rosary (optional).
Day 3: Rome: Papal Audience - Trevi Fountain – Optional Walking tour
This morning after breakfast, we will have Mass at St. Peter’s and then attend the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square or at the Audience Hall. The Audience is celebrated each Wednesday by His Holiness, Pope Francis (pending the papal schedule). Next will be the Scavi tour of St. Peter’s and then the Trevi Fountain area for some free time and lunch (on own). This afternoon is free time with an optional walking tour to the following churches: Church of St. Andrew, Stigmata of St. Francis, Church of St. Ignatius, Basilica of Saint Mary of Minerva, Pantheon, St. Louis of the French, St. Agnes, and Chiesa Nueva. Dinner and overnight in Rome.
Day 4: Rome: St. Peter's Basilica - Vatican Museum - Appian Way - Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls – Catacombs
After Breakfast, we’ll take a full tour of St. Peter's Basilica, built on the site where St. Peter the Apostle was martyred. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to view Michelangelo's Pieta sculpture and pray at the tombs of Pope Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II. Next you will visit Santo Spirito church and the Vatican Museum, where you can see the Tapestry Gallery, Raphael Rooms, and Sistine Chapel. After lunch, continue down the Appian Way, one of the earliest roads built in ancient Rome, to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, where St. Paul is buried and Mass will be celebrated, and the Catacombs. Dinner and overnight in Rome.
Day 5: Rome: St. Cecilia in Trastevere - Basilica of St. John the Lateran - Holy Stairs - Basilica of St. Mary Major
After breakfast, we will attend Mass at St. Cecilia in Trastevere, where the patroness of the Archdiocese of Omaha is buried. Next we have a stop to see the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. We then transfer to visit the oldest of the four major Basilicas in Rome, the Archbasilica of St. John the Lateran, the cathedral church and seat of the Bishop of Rome. Continue across the street to the very steps that lead up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem which Jesus climbed on His way to trial during his Passion. Then we will go to the Basilica of Santa Croce, where various relics of the Passion of Jesus are held, and the Basilica of St. Mary Major, dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. This Basilica contains a relic from the manager of the infant Jesus. We will lastly have a chance to visit Santa Maria Della Vittoria and Santa Maria Del Popolo, containing breathtaking artwork from Bernini and Caravaggio. Dinner and overnight in Rome.
Day 6: Rome: Colosseum – Nettuno – Rome
After Breakfast, we visit the Colosseum, one of the most well-known historical sites in Rome, and then walk to tour Palatine Hill to see its many excavations of ancient palaces. Afterwards we transfer to Basilica of San Clemente commemorating the earliest church martyrs, including St. Ignatius of Antioch. After lunch on your own, transfer outside the city to Nettuno and attend Mass at the Shrine of Saint Maria Goretti, known throughout the world as a saint who not only defended her chastity, but perhaps even more significantly, shed her blood in an effort to prevent her assailant from committing a grave sin. Then have a beautiful walk by a Mediterranean Sea for the rest of the day. Dinner and overnight in Rome.
Day 7: Rome – Monte Cassino - San Giovanni Rotondo
This morning, you will board the bus and enjoy the scenic route through Italy to the Abbey of Monte Cassino, the principal monastery of the Benedictine Order, founded by St. Benedict around 530 A.D. After touring and attending Mass at the monastery, continue on to the town of San Giovanni Rotondo, where St. Pio of Pietrelcina (St. Padre Pio) lived for many decades and where thousands of people have flocked in order to be closer to this great saint and to Our Lord. Dinner and overnight in San Giovanni Rotondo.
Day 8: San Giovanni Rotondo - Monte Sant' Angelo
Visit the Shrine of Padre Pio and the Old Church of Our Lady of Grace, attending Mass and seeing the confessional from where St. Pio spent an innumerable number of hours listening to confessions. After a time of prayer and lunch on your own, you will board the bus and travel along the beautiful Gargano Peninsula to the Grotto of St. Michael the Archangel, where the angel appeared in the fifth century. Finally, visit St. Mathew’s Monastery, containing relics of the great evangelist. Return for dinner and overnight in San Giovanni Rotondo.
Day 9: San Giovanni Rotondo - Lanciano - Loreto – Assisi
After breakfast, you we leave for Assisi. On the way we stop in Lanciano for private Mass at the Church of St. Longinus - the site of a Eucharistic Miracle that occurred in the eighth century. At the time of the miracle, there was a Basilian monk, who struggled with the belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. During the time of Mass, the monk, with doubt in his voice, said the words of consecration and the bread and wine transformed into physical flesh and blood. Leave here for the Marian shrine of Loreto to visit the Holy House of Nazareth and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto. Tradition holds 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, before it was transported several times by angels, to its current location. End the day in Assisi, hometown of St. Francis and St. Clare, with dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Day 10: Assisi (St. Francis)
Begin the day with a tour of the Basilica of St. Francis, where you will see the tomb of St. Francis and have the opportunity to view a series of frescoes depicting his life, along with a few of the saint's possessions. Next you will visit and attend Mass at the Santuario Della Spogliazione, the burial site of Blessed Carlo Acutis, the first millennial to be declared Blessed. Continue the tour by walking through this picturesque town seeing sites such as the Basilica of St. Clare and San Damiano, where St. Francis and St. Clare both followed God’s call to rebuild his church. Enjoy some free time for additional prayer, shopping, and lunch. After lunch, board the bus, which will take you outside of the walls of Assisi, to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. This Basilica is made up of two structures, both of which you will visit. The first structure is the "Porziuncola" that Francis rebuilt, and the second is the "Capella del Transito" which is the place where he died. Finally, visit the Hermitage of Carceri, where St. Francis spent time in solitary prayer receiving his mission to spread the Gospel. Dinner in a local winery in Assisi and overnight in Assisi.
Day 11: Return Home
After an early breakfast and heartfelt farewells, you will leave for Rome Fiumicino airport for the return flight home.