Day 1 Overnight flight. Sunday, 1st October 2023
Check-in at Boston airport for overnight flight to Rome.
Day 2 Arrive Italy. Monday, 2nd October 2023
On arrival in Italy, we will be greeted by our Marian Pilgrimages guide and driver who will remain with us for the duration of our pilgrimage. We will drive to Rome and have lunch in a typical Roman restaurant. Visiting the places of worship over the coming days will allow us to learn about the history of the Catholic church and why Rome is often referred to as the Cradle of Catholicism. This afternoon we will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Mother Church of all churches and seat of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. After a tour of the basilica, we will have the opportunity to climb the Holy Stairs - the steps which led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem on which Jesus Christ climbed on his way to trial. The Holy Stairs attract millions of pilgrims each year who wish to honour the Passion of Jesus Christ. As we drive to our hotel, we will have our first opportunity to see some of the ancient monuments, evidence that Rome has a history and an appeal like no other city in the world. We will have dinner and the remainder of the evening at leisure to relax and settle into our hotel.
Day 3 St. Peters Basilica, Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel. Tuesday, 3rd October 2023
After morning Mass, we will enjoy a guided tour of St. Peters Basilica, one of the holiest temples of Christendom. Home to artistic masterpieces by artists of the calibre of Michelangelo and Bernini amongst countless others, we will explore the basilica and afterwards have time for prayer before the tombs of the great saints; St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII. Our morning will end in St. Peters Square where there will be time at leisure for lunch before our afternoon guided tour of the famous Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
Day 4 Papal Audience, Trevi Fountain, Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Wednesday, 4th October 2023
Subject to Pope Francis being in Rome, this morning we will have the opportunity to gather with fellow pilgrims in St. Peters Square to attend the Papal Audience, at the end of which the Holy Father will impart on us his Apostolic Blessing which also extends to loved ones that are sick and suffering. We will have time at leisure for lunch in the elegant Piazza Navona and afterwards as we walk along the quaint cobbled streets we will pass by some spectacular sights including the world-famous Pantheon. Our walking tour will end at Trevi Fountain where we will have time to sample an ice-cream in one of the famous gelaterias and to throw a coin into the fountain, ensuring our return to the Eternal City! Our day will conclude with evening Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, founded in the place where once was an ancient church built over the tomb of the Apostle Paul.
Day 5 Orvieto. Thursday, 5th October 2023
This morning we will depart the Eternal City and drive to Orvieto, which sits majestically overlooking the Umbrian plains. After free time for lunch, we will celebrate Mass in the cathedral, the towns most famous landmark and see the linen bearing the spots of blood which date back to the Eucharistic Miracle that took place in Bolsena in 1263. We will have time at leisure to stroll through the ancient, cobbled streets before continuing our drive to Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. After checking into our rooms, we will have time to relax and unpack before dinner.
Day 6 Basilicas of St. Francis & St. Clare, Tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis. Friday, 6th October 2023
After morning Mass, accompanied by our guide, we will visit the Basilica of St. Francis and after time for private prayer at the tomb of the Poverello of Assisi, we will enjoy a tour of the basilica admiring the breath-taking frescoes of Cimabue, Giotto, and Simone Martini. As we walk through the medieval town of Assisi we will hear of the early years of Francis and Clare and how they both relinquished their lavish lifestyles in favour of a life of poverty and prayer. Our morning tour will end at the Basilica of St. Clare where we will venerate the original San Damiano Cross and afterwards have time for prayer at the tomb of the founder of the Order of Poor Clares. Carlo Acutis was a teenager who was very much fascinated by the life of St. Francis and who in his short lifetime performed many acts of charity. Carlo sadly died at just 15 years of age and, honouring his wishes, was laid to rest in the cemetery in his beloved Assisi. His body was exhumed and shortly afterwards his remains were transferred to the Sanctuary of the Spoliation. Described by Pope Francis as a great example for young people today, Carlo Acutis was beatified in October 2020 in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. This afternoon we will visit the Sanctuary of the Spoliation and have time for private prayer before the remains of Blessed Carlo Acutis.
Day 7 Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli & Convent of San Damiano. Saturday, 7th October 2023
This morning we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli where we will see the Chapel of the Porziuncola, considered the birthplace of the Franciscan Order and Chapel of the Transito where St. Francis died. Outside the walls of Assisi lies the Convent of San Damiano, where St. Francis received his calling in 1209 and once home to St. Clare and the Order of the Poor Clares. In this tranquil setting we will enjoy a tour of the church and convent, where Clare lived and died. We will have the afternoon at leisure for shopping and personal sightseeing in Assisi and this evening participate in the weekly Torchlight Procession.
Day 8 San Gimignano. Sunday, 8th October 2023
This morning we will depart Assisi and drive to San Gimignano. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990, San Gimignano is one of the small pearls of the province of Siena. In the company of our guide, we will enjoy a walking tour of the town which is famous for its architecture and for its beautiful medieval towers which make the city of San Gimignano truly unique. We will celebrate Mass and afterwards continue our drive to Florence. Upon arriving at our hotel, we will check into our rooms and have dinner.
Day 9 Florence. Monday, 9th October 2023
Florence embodies the intellectual, artistic, and cultural center of Tuscany. Stepping into this magical city soon we will understand why it is often referred to as The Cradle of the Renaissance. This morning we will celebrate Mass in the famous Duomo and afterwards enjoy a guided tour of this charming city. We will have the afternoon at leisure with the opportunity to visit the world-famous Uffizi Gallery with its collection of ancient sculptures and paintings
Day 10 Siena. Tuesday, 10th October 2023
After breakfast we will depart Florence and enjoy wonderful views of the contrasting landscapes as we drive to the town of Siena. After free time for lunch in the vibrant Piazza del Campo, we will begin our guided walking tour which will take us through the town. In the Shrine of the House of St. Catherine, we will hear of the austere lifestyle the young Catherine chose to follow and the great works of charity which earned her the title of The Lady with the Lamp. After the celebration of Mass in the Basilica of San Domenico we will return to Rome where we will spend the last night of our pilgrimage.
Day 11 Return home. Wednesday, 11th October 2023
This morning we will check out of our hotel and drive to Fiumicino airport for our return flight as we return to our homes, filled with a sense of tranquillity, rejuvenation and peace in our hearts.