Pilgrimage to Italy - May 25, 2020
The Shrines and Wines Along the Cammino di Francesco
Italy Pilgrimage Itinerary
Our pilgrimage begins as we depart on our overnight flight to Rome. Meals and refreshments will be served aloft.
Upon arrival in the “Eternal City” of Rome, we will be met by at the airport by our local tour manager. We begin our exploration of important Franciscan sites by visiting St. John Lateran, where St. Francis persuaded Pope Innocent III to grant permission to begin the Franciscan Order. Celebrate Mass and venerate the Holy Stairs before travelling to the Church and Monastery of San Francesco a Ripa. Here, St. Francis of Assisi lived during his visits to the Holy Father, when the Church greeted the Little Poor Man in its arms. Afterwards, we check in at our local hotel, our home for the next 3 nights.
Today, we will attend the weekly Papal audience given by His Holiness, Pope Francis (depending upon the Holy Father’s schedule). In the afternoon we travel to St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, originally built by Constantine in the fourth century over the site of St. Paul’s tomb, followed by a visit to St. Mary Major. This evening, enjoy a walking tour of the city, including the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Bernini’s famous fountains, and the Trevi Fountain, where a coin thrown over your shoulder will guarantee you another visit to Rome. Enjoy dinner on your own.
We begin our day in Rome with an early Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by a tour including the Pieta and Adoration Chapel. We’ll then visit the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum, marveling at the awe-inspiring works of art. This afternoon, we visit the tucked-away Capuchin Church of the Immaculate Conception where the shrine of St. Crispin, OFM rests. Crispin, a shoemaker, became famous for many healings as a result of his prayers. His body, in a remarkable state of preservation, rests under a side altar. Enjoy our last evening in Rome tonight, exploring other sites on our own before our last night in our hotel.
This morning we depart Rome for Greccio and enjoy a tour of this medieval town. Greccio itself, set on a beautiful mountaintop, is famous for its cool summer climate and its mineral springs. However, it is even more renowned for its connections with St. Francis of Assisi and as the birthplace of the Christmas crèche. On Christmas Night 1223, St. Francis led shepherds to the top of a nearby hill where they gathered together in a stable sheltering an ox and a donkey. According to legend, the Baby Jesus miraculously appeared in the manger. On this spot the Franciscan convent of Greccio was built, and the Chapel of the Crib was erected in 1228, the year St. Francis was canonized. After Mass proceed to Spoleto and visit the Hermitage of St. Francis. Established in the 5th century by a community of hermits fleeing Syria, this hermitage has been part of the Franciscan family since the 13th century. We will spend time in peaceful prayer and reflection before checking into our hotel for our overnight.
This morning, we travel a short distance to Foligno to venerate the incorrupt body of St. Angela of Foligno, who experienced a deep conversion of heart after praying to St. Francis and later became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. Continue into Spello where we will enjoy the magnificent frescoes of Santa Maria Maggiore church and venerate the tomb of Bl. Andrew Caccioli, companion of St. Francis. After lunch, journey to Assisi along the path known as “The Way of St. Francis.” We will meander along relatively flat, secondary roads without much traffic, featuring lovely views of the Valley of Assisi before reachingthe center of Franciscan history. The pathway takes us straight to the heart of the upper town and ends in front of the basilica of St. Francis. After celebrating our arrival, we check into our hotel, home for the next 2 nights.
Our day begins at the Convent of San Damiano where the miracle of the Eucharist of 1211 took place and visit the chapel where Jesus spoke to St. Francis from the crucifix, and the Basilica of St. Francis. We will visit the Basilica of St. Clare and view her incorrupt body, then proceed to Santa Maria degli Angeli.This afternoon we will travel up Mt. Subasio to L’Eremo delle Carceri (the Carceri Hermitage), St. Francis’ favorite retreat center, where he could remain in seclusion and prayer. Enjoy some personal prayer time in this peaceful location before descending into Assisi for the evening.
This morning we will visit St. Mary of the Angels Basilica, site of the Porziuncola, the tiny church in the woods where St. Francis began his ministry and where St. Clare was consecrated. Afterwards, enjoy lunch at a local winery before proceeding to the town of Gubbio, important in the life of St. Francis as the town where he notoriously tamed a wolf that was terrorizing the local residents. After this miracle, the townspeople were converted to Christianity and became followers of St. Francis. We will visit the Church of St. Francis of the Peace, built in commemoration of this event. Continue through the Umbrian and Tuscan countryside to Cortona where, in 1211, St. Francis arrived to preach and found an isolated location in which to retreat and pray. It became a common location for Francis to stop along his journeys to and from Assisi. We will overnight nearby in Arezzo.
We journey north on a day trip today, through Tuscany, to the Sanctuary of La Verna, located on land that was donated to St. Francis by Count Orlando Cattani in 1213. The hermitage built here became a favored site for Francis and his followers, where they would come and retreat, spending long periods of meditation and prayer. In 1224, what would be St. Francis’ last stay at La Verna, while absorbed in prayer, he had a vision and received the stigmata that he carried until his death two years later. We will enjoy the majority of our day in this retreat-like setting, reflecting upon the life and teachings of St. Francis, before returning to Arezzo.
Today, we enjoy the history and culture of the Tuscan countryside with a culinary tour of the Chianti region south of Florence. Visit a winery in Montepulciano and learn about the many varieties of grapes unique to this region. Then enjoy Pecorino cheese tasting in Pienza. Then proceed to Florence, our home for the next two nights.
Our last full day in Italy is another restful and cultural one. Traveling through the Tuscan countryside, we will arrive in Florence and explore this beautiful city. We will tour the Duomo and the Baptistery, see the replica of the famous statue of David, and visit the Basilica of Santa Croce, the principal Franciscan church in Florence, where we will celebrate Mass. One of the first missions of the Franciscan Order, this basilica houses the tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and more. Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening at a local restaurant, enjoying some free time in the city afterwards, or retiring early to the hotel to prepare for our return flight in the morning.
Today we say, “Ciao Italia” and return home, cherishing all of the wonderful memories and graces of this pilgrimage.
- Daily Mass at holy sites
- Roundtrip economy airfare from New York JFK on Delta/KLM
- 10 nights’ accommodations, including taxes and service charges
- Porterage of one piece of luggage at airports and hotels
- Knowledgeable, friendly, Catholic/Christian guides; whisper headsets; deluxe motor coach transportation to holy sites; all entrance fees listed on itinerary
- Breakfast and dinner per itinerary (excluding drinks)
- Wine and cheese tasting at local wineries and restaurants
- Dinner at a local restaurant in Florence