9 DAY SPIRITUAL ITALY
Day 1: USA - EUROPE. Tour members gather at the ticket counter at the airport three hours prior to their evening departure to Italy. Dinner and breakfast are served in-flight.
Day 2: ROME. Upon arrival at Rome’s international airport, we meet our local professional tour escort and drive to Sant'Andrea della Valle for Mass. Then, we transfer to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: ROME. Breakfast and early morning Mass at a Crypt Chapel. Transfer to St. Peter’s Square to assist at the GENERAL PAPAL AUDIENCE. Time for lunch and the rest of the afternoon is dedicated to the visit of San John di Lateran. We spend the rest of the afternoon at the Holy Steps. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 4: ROME – ORVIETO - ASSISI. Soon after breakfast, we drive to the Mamertine Prison (if available) or to St. Clements Church next to the Coliseum, to celebrate a private Mass. Return to St. Peter’s for time of prayer. St. Peter’s Square, destination of all Catholics coming from all over the world, is embraced by the colonnade - an architectonic masterpiece by Bernini under the symbolic protection of the Cuppolone as the Romans call Michelangelo's dome. Then, we drive to Assisi and stop for a visit at Orvieto on the way. It’s location is marvelous - perched high above tufa cliffs - showing traces of every phase of history for the past three thousand years, culminating in its magnificent cathedral. The cathedral of Orvieto is one of the most beautiful churches in Umbria, indeed in all of Italy. It was begun in 1285 and is Gothic in style, with three naves. Its tripartite façade was conceived by Lorenzo Maitani and is decorated in its lower portion with scenes from the Old and New Testaments. It’s adorned with mosaics and statues of the Blessed Virgin and the Prophets and the Apostles in its upper part. Mass is celebrated here at this Eucharist site. Arrival at our Assisi hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: SIENA - ASSISI. Breakfast and then drive to Siena, the city which is ”the sole living model of a medieval city.” After a guided walk through the most important sites and buildings, we arrive at the Sanctuary of the House of Santa Caterina. Our journey continues to the Church of San Domenico – a Gothic style Basilica. Inside is the Chapel of St. Caterina, whose tabernacle contains a reliquary with the head of the Saint. Mass is celebrated at the Church of San Domenico in Siena. Return to Assisi for a visit of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and the small Portiuncola chapel - the site where St. Francis died in 1226. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Day 6: ASSISI - CASCIA - LORETO. Breakfast and then meet our guide and start an unforgettable walk through the narrow streets of this ancient town which sweeps the flanks of Monte Subasio. We visit the Church of Santa Chiara, the site where St. Francis was born and then on to see the house where he spent the first years of his life. We then reach the very heart of the town, the Piazza del Comune (Town Square) with its Roman and medieval buildings. Then, near the ancient city walls, we visit the Basilica of St Francis which houses the tomb of the Saint. The interiors are decorated with frescoes from the 12th and 13th centuries. Celebrate Mass here. We then proceed to Cascia, a town and commune (township) of the Italian province of Perugia in a rather remote area of the mountainous southeastern corner of Umbria (2,142 ft above sea-level). Cascia's principal claim to fame is as the home of Saint Rita of Cascia, who was born in the nearby hamlet of Roccaporena in 1381 and died there in 1457. After her canonization in 1900, a large shrine was built in Cascia, which is still an important place of pilgrimage and the house where she was born may still be visited. Visit the Eucharist site – the Basilica of St. Rita. Mass at the Tomb or Basilica of St. Francis. We then travel Loreto for dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Day 7: LORETO - MANOPPELLO - ROME. Breakfast at our hotel and proceed with a guided tour of this small town. We begin with a visit to the house of the Virgin Mary, which miraculously uprooted itself from the Holy Land and was carried by angels to this place in 1294. Also known as the Holy House of Loreto, it is one of the most revered Marian shrines in the world. Since medieval times, the Holy House has been believed to be the very home in which the Virgin Mary lived, conceived and raised the young Jesus. A large basilica has been built around the small shrine and the sacred site attracts as many as 4 million Catholic pilgrims and visitors each year. Then, we drive to Manoppello. Pope Benedict XVI’s September 2006 visit to an Italian monastery has drawn increasing public attention to a small piece of cloth kept there which contains an image many believe to be the face of Jesus. According to Christian tradition, a woman named Veronica wiped Jesus’ face as he walked on the road to Calvary and an image of Jesus’ face was impressed onto the cloth. Documents dating back to the 4th century refer to the existence of such a cloth, referred to as Veronica’s Veil, which reportedly had miraculous and healing properties. Other reports say the name comes from vera icona or true icon. A short time later, records show that a cloth thought to be Veronica’s Veil was given to the monks at a monastery in Manoppello where it has resided until now. Celebrate Mass at a local church. At the end of the visit, we return to Rome for overnight. Dinner on our own to taste the local flavors.
Day 8: ROME. This morning, after breakfast, we celebrate Mass at the tomb of St. Peter (or one of the chapels close to the tomb). The rest of the day is at leisure for activities and shopping on our own. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Day 9: ROME - USA. Celebrate an early Mass before we transfer to the airport for our flight home – the end of a memorable pilgrimage.