With its many places of worship, Italy is a destination for travelers who want to rejoice in their faith. On this inspirational tour, you’ll celebrate Mass, have an opportunity to attend the Papal Audience and learn about some of Italy’s most beloved saints. Learn about St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, a modernday saint who was canonized in 2002. Visit the Shrine of Monte Sant’Angelo, one of Christendom’s most celebrated shrines and where St. Michael the Archangel appeared. See the Eucharistic Miracle in Lanciano, reflect in the Holy House of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Loreto and visit the basilicas of St. Francis and St. Clare in Assisi. On this tour you’ll see why Italy is a must for faithbased travelers and for art lovers.
September 19 Departure St. Padre Pio Feast Day in San Giovanni Rotondo (September 23)
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description, including admission charges where applicable.
Welcome to Italy! Check into your hotel, then the rest of the day is free to explore on your own. This afternoon, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers, and prepare for your upcoming spiritual journey. Later this evening, a welcome dinner awaits at your hotel. (D)
This morning, attend the PAPAL AUDIENCE (subject to availability) for the chance to see the Pope and receive the Papal Blessing. Later, visit ST. PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS, burial place of St. Paul the Apostle and one of Rome’s four major Papal basilicas, along with ST. JOHN LATERAN BASILICA, built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century. Next, visit the Papal sanctuary of the SCALA SANCTA (Holy Stairs), transported from Jerusalem to Rome around 326 AD by St. Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother. These 28 marble steps are traditionally ascended in a kneeling position with a prayer recital dedicated to Jesus Christ. Then, visit the impressive ST. MARY MAJOR BASILICA and attend Mass. (B)
The “Eternal City” is steeped in history, vibrantly alive and exciting, and of course the Holy See! Included sightseeing with a Local Guide starts in Vatican City with St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. Other highlights are the iconic Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever built; the Roman Forum; Piazza Venezia, and Campidoglio. An optional visit is available to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, world famous for Michelangelo’s impressive fresco of The Last Judgment. (B)
Head deeper south today, stopping first in Monte Cassino to see the monastery and visit the ABBEY perched high above the valley. The monastery was the motherhouse of the Benedictines, founded in 529 AD and destroyed four times over the centuries. The last time it was laid to ruin was in 1944 during the great Battle of Monte Cassino. Then, stop in quaint Pietrelcina, birthplace of the beloved St. Pio, before heading towards San Giovanni Rotondo on the eastern coast, the Saint’s home from 1916 until his death in 1968. (B/D)
Attend Mass this morning at SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE (Old Church), then visit the FRIARY of Padre Pio, including his tomb, cell, confessional, and the PADRE PIO PILGRIMAGE CHURCH (New Church). Afterwards, take a short drive to the nearby SHRINE OF MONTE SANT’ANGELO, one of Christendom’s most celebrated shrines and where St. Michael the Archangel appeared in 490, 492, and 1656. (B/D)
Visit ST. FRANCIS’ church in Lanciano, home of the Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle, and attend morning Mass. Continue to the LORETO SANCTUARY, including the HOLY HOUSE, where, according to tradition, angels transported the home of the blessed Virgin Mary. Arrive at the hilltop village of Assisi, home of St. Francis and St. Clare. (B/D)
Today, learn more about St. Francis, patron saint of animals and the environment. Attend early morning Mass at St. Francis Basilica, famous for its 14thcentury Giotto paintings depicting the life of St. Francis, then meet your Local Guide and visit the UPPER and LOWER BASILICAS of St. Francis and the BASILICA OF ST. CLARE, founder of the Order of Poor Clares. Next, visit the BASILICA of Santa Maria degli Angeli, situated at the foot of Assisi’s hills and protecting the Porziuncola, where St. Francis is said to have founded the Order of Friars Minor in 1209, and the Cappella del Transito, where the Saint died in 1226. (B)
Travel to Cascia this morning, situated in Umbria and home of St. Rita, the “Patron Saint of Impossible Causes.” Visit the SANCTUARY and see the Major Basilica, the chapel that houses the tomb of St. Rita. Also, see the Minor Basilica, home of the Eucharistic Miracle that is commemorated each year with the Feast of Corpus Christi. Return to Rome for a final overnight and a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B/D)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)