12 Day Ireland and Rome


Day 1: Meet at airport three hours before departure.  Dinner and breakfast aboard our flight.

Day 2 – Welcome to Ireland. Arrival at Shannon Airport. Meet with your coach driver and English speaking guide and continue to the Cliffs of Moher.  Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren Area, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland's most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara. To the south of the cliffs is Hag's Head and was once the site of a castle.  The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O' Brien's Tower. Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru (he who defeated the Vikings in battle), built a Tower at the cliffs in order to enjoy some tea with his lady friends. The Tower is adjacent to the seastack, Breanan Mór, which stands over 70 metres above the foaming waves and is home to some of the Burren’s wildlife.  Visit St Brigid's Well.  Close to the entrance to the Cliffs of Moher lies the Holy Well of St Brigid ~ a friend of St Patrick and a special saint on the Irish calendar. Like Lourdes, the well is visited by the sick and infirm hoping to find a cure for their illness. There is a collection of discarded crutches and walking sticks within the grotto, which offers evidence to some pilgrims having their prayers answered.  The well pre-date Christian times and was once a shrine to Crom Dubh a pagan god. St Bridig’s well has been a pilgrimage site for many centuries and the tradition is continued today. Up to 400 pilgrims’ gather at the site on the last weekend in July to place their petitions. Continue to Galway via the Burren.  The Burren, part of which forms the 100 square km Burren National Park, is a unique place. It is a Karst limestone region of approximately 300 sq. km, which lies in the north west corner of Co Clare. It is composed of limestone pavements, which have been eroded to a distinctive pattern.  This pavement is criss-crossed by cracks known as grykes in which grow a myriad of wild flora and under which are huge caves and rivers which suddenly flood when it rains. The Burren contains dozens of megalithic tombs and Celtic crosses as well as a ruined Cistercian Abbey dating back to the 12th century.  You will discover small villages abandoned during the famine period and green roads on which you can walk for miles without ever seeing a car.  The flora on the Burren is a mixture Arctic and Mediterranean and rare flowers such as gentian, orchids and bloody cranesbill are the rule rather than the exception. The Burren is truly an exceptional part of Ireland. Overnight dinner, bed and full Irish breakfast at your hotel in Galway region.

Day 3 – Galway to Sligo. This morning Celebrate mass in local Church or the hotel.  Today travel to Sligo via Mayo.  Visit KnockThis little town is an important pilgrimage centre and has been famous for over a century as the site of visions, apparitions, and miraculous cures. The story of Knock began on the 21st August 1879 when Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. Fifteen people, young and old witnessed the apparition. From this miraculous occurrence Knock has grown to the status of an internationally recognised Marian Shrine. The personal pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II in 1979, commemorating the centenary of the apparition, inspired an even greater devotion to the Shrine and endorsed the indelible seal of Vatican approval. Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited the Shrine in June of 1993. One and a half million pilgrims visit the Shrine annually.  Visit Sligo Abbey.  Sligo Abbey, more accurately called the Dominican Friary of Sligo, was founded in 1253 by Maurice FitzGerald, Baron of Offaly. The Abbey has had a turbulent history, having been destroyed by fire in 1414 and again in 1595.  Despite this, friars continued to inhabit the abbey until the 18th century when the community moved. Lord Palmerston restored part of the ruins in the mid-19th century but eventually the Abbey was handed over to the state in the early 1900s and is now open to the public.  Overnight dinner, bed and full Irish breakfast at your hotel in Sligo region.

Day 4 – Sligo to Donegal. This morning Celebrate mass in local Church or hotel.  Today travel north to Donegal and Lough Derg.  Lough Derg lies about four miles north of the village of Pettigo in County Donegal. Station Island, the location of the Pilgrimage, is often referred to as Saint Patrick's Purgatory or simply Lough Derg.This is a special sanctuary of peace and personal challenge. This small lake-island, renowned in Irish Christian tradition since the time of St. Patrick, has been receiving pilgrims continuously for well over 1000 years.In earlier times the area around the lake was a place of protection for anyone in trouble. The monastery nearby offered hospitality to all. Today Lough Derg still reaches out to those in need. Whatever your creed, background, social circumstances or religious practice, you are most welcome.   Return to your hotel for overnight dinner, bed and full Irish breakfast at your hotel in Donegal region.

Day 5 – Donegal to Dublin. This morning Celebrate mass in local Church or hotel.  Today travel to Dublin via County Meath.  Visit Kells High Cross and Round Tower.  The monastery at Kells would appear to have been first founded in 804 by monks from St. Columcilles foundation at Iona who were fleeing from the Viking invasions. They may well have been the scribes who illuminated the famous book of Kells now kept and on display in Trinity College Dublin. In the churchyard, on the top of the hill, are found the Round Tower and a number of High Crosses. The round Tower is about 30 meters high, and has five windows at the top, though the original conical cap is missing. There are four high crosses in various states of repair to be found in the graveyard.  Dating from the 9th century, the crosses are over 3m in height.  Some have a Latin inscription, which is quite unusual in Ireland.  The best preserved are dedicated to saints Patrick and Columba with a semi- legible inscription ‘Patrici et Columbae Crux.’   Visit the Hill of Tara.  Tara was once the residence of The High Kings of Ireland ~ 142 kings are said to have reigned here in pre and historic times. In the early Christian period Tara was the political and religious centre of Ireland.  Saint Patrick himself is said to have visited Tara. There are over thirty monuments remaining today. The earliest settlement at the site is Neolithic while the Mound of the Hostages was constructed in or around 2500BC. Early in the 20th century a group of Israelites came to Tara with the conviction that the Arc of the Covenant was buried in on the famous hill ~ alas they only found some Roman coins. Tara has an excellent Interpretative Centre, which presents an excellent audio-visual on Tara’s rich history.  Continue to Dublin.  Overnight dinner, bed and full Irish breakfast at your hotel in Dublin region.

Day 6 – Farewell to Ireland and on to Rome. This morning Celebrate mass in local Church or hotel.  After a final full Irish breakfast, transfer to Dublin airport for flight to Rome.  Upon arrival at Rome’s international airport, meet your local professional agent and transfer to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.

Day 7    Rome. Breakfast and transfer to St. Peter’s Square to assist at the GENERAL PAPAL AUDIENCE. Lunch and afternoon at leisure    Daily Mass.  Dinner and overnight.

Day 8    Rome. Soon after breakfast, transfer to celebrate a PRIVATE MASSin one of the Chapels in St. Peter’s Basilica. Then meet your local guide to discoverart, history and religion of the smallest state in the world.  Passing through the Court of the Pigna, designed by Bramante in the XVI cent. you will enter inside the Belvedere Palace, of the late XV cent.; in the first room is housed the Apoxyomenos by Lisippo, the only roman copy still existing of this Greek masterpiece. You are now in the heart of the museum, the Belvedere Courtyard. It was here that were placed the first masterpieces of Greek and Roman art exhibited in the Renaissance: the Apollo Belvedere, one of the most famous works of antiquity, and the Laocoon Group, defined by Pliny the Elder "the biggest sculpture known at that time". Proceeding with the visit you will quickly pass the secondary galleries to reach the room of the Belvedere Torso, work of the I cent. B.C., much admired by the Renaissance artists, especially Michelangelo. Passing through the round room, with a monumental basin in porphyry in the centre, you will go into the Greek Cross Room where the splendid Sarcophagi of St. Helene and St. Constance are housed.   Walking through the Galleries of the Candelabra, of the Maps and of the Tapestries you will reach the Apostolic Palace, the oldest section of the complex of the Vatican Palaces. Your guide will show you the Apartaments of Julius II, splendidly decorated by Raphael and his assistants and then the Sistine Chapel, where you will admire one of the highest masterpieces of art: the Genesis and the Last Judgement by Michelangelo, that after their last restorations have regained their original splendour.  Leaving the Sistine Chapel and going down the Royal Stairway, projected by Bernini, the guide will conduct you to the Basilica of St. Peter, the most important temple of Christianity, which gathers inside 2000 years of history and famous works of art such as the Pietà by Michelangelo.  The visit ends at St. Peter’s Square, destination of all Catholics coming from all over the world, embraced by the colonnade, architectonic masterpiece by Bernini, under the symbolic protection of the "Cuppolone", as the Romans call Michelangelo's dome Time at disposal for lunch and the afternoon is dedicated to the visit of two among the most important Christians ChurchesofRome….. San John di Lateranand the Holy Cross of Jerusalem.   These churches are symbolic of the importance that Constantine placed on his adopted new faith….. The properties for both were donated by Constantine’s family, signifying that importance. You will visit also the Santa Scala, the Holy Steps, which are reputed to be the steps that Christ went up when he was called for a meeting with Pontius Pilate.  A visit to these steps was recorded as one of the sites that Martin Luther visited when he was called by the Pope to Rome.  Return to hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 9    Rome   PAUL’S SITES AND BASILICAS. Breakfast and half day sightseeing to :  CATACOMBS OF SAN SEBASTIAN.  Locatedon theAncient Appian Way, this is the place where the bodies of Apostle Paul and Apostle Peterwhere kept during the Christian persecution of Valeriano ( 253 – 260 AC) which gave the first Christians the opportunity to venerate thetombs of the two Apostles.  This is the reasonwhy this place is still today called.   MEMORIA APOSTOLORUM.  To provethis, there are a lot of “grafiti” in Latin and Aramaic in the catacombsand in the Basilica of San Sebastian, as well.  The Basilica itself was   built over the catacombs during the   “Costantinianum Peace” in the name of the two Apostles.             

ST PAUL OUTSiDE THE WALLS.  St. Paul Outside the Walls is a Benedictine Abbey which shares its name, origins and centuries o history, both joyful and sorrowful, with the adjoining basilica Visit the Basilica where the bones of Paul have recently been found.  Lunch and balance of the day at leisure.   Dinner and overnight .


DAY 10    Rome / ASSISI Early morning departure towards the north , through the Umbriangreen hills covered in olive groves and vineyardsto reach Assisi in a 2 hour drive… Upon arrival, meet your local guide and and start an unforgettable walk through the narrow streets of the ancient town which sweeps the flanks of Monte Subasio. You will visitthe 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. You will then reach the very heart of the town, the Piazza del Comune (Town Hall square), with its Roman and medieval buildings. Then, near the ancient city walls, you will visit the Basilica of St Francis, which housesthe tomb of the Saint. The interiors are decorated with frescoes from the 12th and 13th centuries.   Some time at leisure for lunch before transfer by bus to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli to visit the small Portiuncola chapel and the site where St. Francis died in 1226.   DAILY MASS.  At the established time Return to Rome.  Arrival at the hotel for dinner and overnight

Day 11    Rome- This morning you have a walking tour through the real core of Ancient Rome. This tour will show you the great “power” of Rome and Emperors who demanded divinity for themselves ….. This was mainly what Paul preached against in Roman 1-25 Romans 1, 25 …. And worshipped and served the creature more thanthe Creator, who is blessed for ever.    From theTrajan's Column, jewel of architecture and sculpture made by Apollodorus of Damascus, our guide will show you along the Via dei Fori Imperiali (street of the Imperial Fora), the ruins of the fori that the great emperors built as lasting memory of their power.  You will see the Forum of Trajan, the biggest and most splendid of all, whose markets, true forerunners of the modern commercial centers, offered to the Roman citizen any goods to be found at that time.  On foot you will reach the Capitoline Hill , once political and religious center of the town, which today is the seat of the Municipality. The stairway will lead you to the Piazza del Campidoglio, the magnificent result of a single project by Michelangelo, with a copy of the most famous equestrian statue in the world, the statue of Marcus Aurelius, in the middle. Behind Piazza del Campidoglio you will find a natural terrace providing the best panoramic point over the valley of the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.  Walking through the valley of the Roman Forum the great Rome with its important buildings will revive before your eyes; the Curia, seat of the Roman Senate, the State Archive, the basilicas, palaces of justice, the temple of Vesta, and the House of the Vestals, the virgins in charge of keeping the sacred fire always alive, and all around temples and columns and arches of triumph erected to commemorate gods of Roman history Romans 1, 23……and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…..

From the Forum the guide will show you to the place linked to the fabulous origins of Rome: the Palatine. Here Romolus founded the town in the year 753 B.C. and starting with Augustus the great emperors settled here. From the valley of the Roman Forum you will admire the Domus Tiberiana only partially explored and the ruins of the Imperial Palaces. Leaving the Roman Forum you will find the Arch of Constantine, erected to commemorate the victory of the emperor overMaxentius in the 4th century A.D. ..(  tradition saysthat before the battle the Emperor saw a brilliant crossin the skyandsaid the famous words “in hoc signo vinces”)   You will see the Forum of Trajan, the biggest and most splendid of all, whose markets, true A.D., andthe Colosseumeverlasting symbol of the greatness of Rome and stage of the historical gladiator fights.  Lunch and afternoon at leisure Daily Mass   Dinner and overnight

Day 12    Rome- Breakfast at the hotel and according to the time of the flight transfer to the airport – the end of a wonderful pilgrimage.