Pilgrimage to Italy & Switzerland - September 18, 2020
Private GroupRome | Monte Cassino | Assisi | Florence | Como | Einsiedeln
Traverse the sunshine hills of Italy where St. Benedict, the founder of the modern monastery system, erected his great monastery and the Benedictine Rule. The masterpieces of Florence await and the peace of Assisi --both unique in their own character --before heading to the beauty of Switzerland. See how St. Benedict's legacy led to the beautiful abbey in Einsiedeln that then helped found other monasteries in America.
Italy Pilgrimage Itinerary
Our spiritual pilgrimage begins today as we board our transatlantic flight to Rome. Meals and refreshments will be served aloft.
After our arrival in the “Eternal City” of Rome we will be met by at the airport by our local tour manager. Go to St. Paul Outside the Walls which was originally built by Constantine in the fourth century over the site of St. Paul’s tomb. Afterwards, will visit the Catacombs of San Callistus where we will celebrate Mass. Check in at our local hotel.
This morning we will have a short drive to Subiaco where we will visit Benedict’s monastery, built around the Sacro Speco (Holy Cave) where he lived for three years. Here St. Benedict wrote his Rule. After Mass, visit St. Scholastica’s Monastery, built by Benedict and his twin sister, Scholastica, originally one of twelve in this area. We will see the cloisters from the 6th and 11th centuries, as well as the medieval church decorated by Cosmati.
We’ll begin our day in Rome with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by a tour including the Pieta and Adoration Chapel which opened in 1981. We will then split into groups for a tour of the Scavi Excavations (pending confirmation) below the main altar where we will view the actual tomb of St. Peter. If the afternoon, we will visit the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum, focusing especially on Eucharistic art and artifacts. For those with the stamina, join Abbot John in the evening for a walking tour, seeing the Pantheon, Piazza Navona with Bernini’s famous fountains, and the Trevi Fountain, where a coin thrown over your shoulder will guarantee you another visit to Rome.
This morning we visit the famous Abbey of Monte Cassino, founded by Benedict in 529 after he left Subiaco and where he lived until he died. Monte Cassino is considered by many to be the birthplace of monasticism in Western Europe. We will have a guided tour of the Abbey, including the extensive museum and the relics of Benedict and his sister Scholastica which are interred beneath the main altar. Return to Rome.
Today we will experience a highlight of our pilgrimage, attendance at the Papal Audience at St. Peter’s (subject to the Holy Father’s schedule). Join thousands of pilgrims from throughout the world to listen to the Holy Father and receive His Blessing. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran and the Holy Stairs. Proceed to St. Peter in Chains to view Michelangelo’s magnificent Moses followed by a visit to St. Mary Major.
This morning we will drive to Assisi and 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 began her religious life. Then proceed to the Basilica of St. Francis where the saint lies in rest, and the Basilica of St. Clare. After we explore this peaceful town we will drive to Florence, the regional capital of Tuscany for our overnight.
Our tour of Florence is an artful experience as we take in the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, and the Baptistery with its renowned bronze doors, the replica of the famous statue of David by Michelangelo outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella Church and the Basilica of Santa Croce where we will celebrate Mass. The balance of the afternoon will be free for personal activities.
After Mass, depart Florence for the beautiful lake district in the north of Italy. Check into our hotel and relax in this alpine retreat. Enjoy dinner together overlooking the lake. Overnight in Como.
Enjoy a boat ride across Lake Como to the enchanting village of Bellagio which is known not only for the famous movie stars who reside here but for the quaint medieval streets winding up the mountain with spectacular lake vistas. After time to explore Bellagio, we will continue by ferry to Tremezzo to visit Villa Carlotta with its acres of magnificent gardens. Depart for Zurich. Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel.
This morning we will take a day trip to the Benedictine Monastery of Einsiedeln whose name derives from the German word Einsiedler, or hermits. Among these was the famous Meinrad who, in the early 9th century, retired to the forest with a little statue of the Madonna which was given to him by a local abbess. Meinrad was killed by robbers who were then eventually brought to justice for their crime. Since the early 10th century, Einsiedeln has remained a place of fervent pilgrimage. We will celebrate Mass at the Monastery, which is situated amidst green pastures and dense forests with some of the country’s most beautiful scenery. Return to Zurich in the afternoon – visit the Altstadt (the Old Town) of Zurich as we stroll through the Old Town quarter and visit the Fraumunster (Church of Our Lady) featuring Marc Chagall’s famous stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the life of Christ. Celebrate a farewell dinner this evening.
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport to catch our return flight home with all the memories of St. Benedict and Rome forever planted in your heart!