12 Days Tracing St. Francis and St. Benedict


DAY 01: USA / ROME. Tour members will depart for Rome from New York.  Dinner and breakfast will be served aboard the flight.

DAY 02: ROME / SIENA / FLORENCE.  We arrive at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport and meet our professional tour manager.  We transfer by coach to Siena - ”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 with a Holy Mass at the Church of San Domenico - a Gothic style Basilica.  Inside is the Chapel of St. Caterina, whose tabernacle contains a reliquary with the hand of the Saint.  Our day ends by travelling by coach to Florence for dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 03: FLORENCE.  A full day guided tour of one of the most significant capitals of the arts in Italy, if not of the world, awaits us today.  Our visit includes: the Baptistery of St. John (the religious essence of the city), the Duomo with the Medici Chapel, the Church of St. Lorenzo, Piazza della Signoria, Piazza San Marco (with the Church of San Marco) and the Academy Gallery. Our tour ends at the Basilica of Santa Croce - a masterpiece of Gothic art and the pantheon of famous Italians among whose Michelangelo, Machiavelli and others.  Mass will be celebrated at a selected location.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 04: LA VERNA / SANSEPOLCRO / ASSISI.  This morning, we make an early departure to discover the Sanctuary of La Verna.  Here St. Francis, with a few companions, built a cluster of huts.  In September 1224, he received the stigmata and from then on the place became an important sanctuary.  We can celebrate Holy Mass in the Chapel of the Stigmata, which harks back to 1263.  We then proceed by coach to Sansepolcro - the so-called “Little Jerusalem.”  We visit the chapel containing the relics that St. Egidio and St. Arcano bought with them from Jerusalem.  Afterwards, we have free time to walk through this medieval city and have lunch.  In the afternoon, we continue by coach to Assisi for dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 05: ASSISI.  We have a full day guided tour of this charming town - the pilgrimage centre where St. Francis and St. Clare lived.  Visit the Upper and Lower Basilica of St. Francis (with its Renaissance masterpieces by Giotto and Cimabue,) and the Basilica of St Clare.  In the afternoon, we tour the Church of St. Damiano - where St. Francis probably wrote his famous canticle to the sun and to the moon.  Mass will be celebrated at the Porziuncola.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 06: GRECCIO / SUBIACO.  Today, we travel south by coach through the Umbrian Valley and the picturesque cities of Spello and Spoleto to reach the hermitage of Greccio - the “New Bethlehem.”  The edges of the building blend into the lush Holm oak woods that greeted Saint Francis on his solitary retreats.  The sanctuary is famous because Saint Francis chose it as the backdrop to one of the highest and most lyrical moments in his life: the first recreation of the Bethlehem Nativity in Christianity on Christmas Eve, 1223.  Our visit to the Sanctuary starts with the Chapel of Nativity and continues through the ancient Convent:  the refectory, the dormitory and the cell dug where St Francis slept.  Mass will be celebrated here at the Chapel of Nativity.  After free time for lunch, we continue by coach to the little village of Subiaco.  We will spend two nights in this mystic place that St. Benedict (5th Century) chose to spend time praying and meditating.  Dinner and overnight in the monastery to experience aspects of monastic life.

DAY 07: SUBIACO.  We have a full day to relax in the intense and suggestive atmosphere of peace and serenity in this quiet, intimate place.  Mass will be celebrated here.  Dinner and overnight at the monastery

DAY 08: MENTORELLA / SUBIACO.  In the morning, we proceed to Mentorella to experience this imposing monastic complex: the Grotto of Sansepolcro (where St. Benedict spent his years of isolation), the Grotto of Shepherds, the Abbey of St. Scolastica (St. Benedict’s twin sister), the Library of the Archive (containing copies of ancient codexes,) the Cloister and the Church.  In the afternoon, we have a guided tour of the Sanctuary of the Mentorella - the most ancient in Italy, founded 1,800 years ago thanks to Constantine.  We experience the strong religious and harmonic atmosphere of this place where art, faith and nature coexist, pervaded by the fragrance of an ancient ”sweet - smelling mint”.  Mass will be celebrated here.  In the evening, we head back by coach to Subiaco for dinner and overnight.

DAY 09: MONTECASSINO / ROME.  We have an early morning departure to visit the famous Abbey of Montecassino founded, thanks to St. Benedict, in 529.  On this site, the Saint established the principles of the Rule (540) and was buried with his sister, Saint Scolastica.  Relics found in 1950 are preserved in the crypt.  Mass will be celebrated here.  In the late afternoon we travel by coach to Rome for dinner and overnight.

DAY 10: ROME.  After breakfast, we embark on a trip to the Vatican to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.  A papal audience may be arranged, if available.  We continue with a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica to admire the famous Michelangelo’s Pieta.  After a break for lunch, we continue with a drive along a section of the old Appian Way to see the huge slabs that originally paved its length and several surviving patrician tombs that once lined the way.  We visit the Catacombs and then proceed by coach to see the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.  Mass will be celebrated at a selected location.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 11: ROME.  After breakfast, we will walk through the very core of Roman antiquity.  We tour Trajan’s market, Nero’s Golden House, Trajan’s Forum and Column, Arch of Constantine, House of Knights of Rhodes.  Next, we proceed to the Mamertine Prisons (where St Peter was held prisoner), the Roman Forum (the civic heart of the Roman Republic), the Coliseum and St. Peter in Vincoli to see Michelangelo’s Moses.  In the afternoon, we have free time for a walk at Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spagna and Navona Square.  Mass will be Celebrated at a selected location.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 12: ROME / USA.  After breakfast, we are transfer by coach to the Leonardo da Vinci Airport for your return flight to the States.  The end of an unforgettable pilgrimage.