Saints and Shrines of Italy - December 27, 2021
Rome | Assisi | Orvieto
Visit a place where saints healed the sick, grew the faith, and the True Presence of Christ is witnessed in Eucharistic Miracles that point to Christ’s teachings on the Eucharist.
Italy Pilgrimage Itinerary
Our pilgrimage begins as we depart on our overnight flight to Florence. Meals and refreshments will be served aloft.
After our morning arrival in Rome we will drive north to Orvieto a walled town high on a hill that holds one of the greatest Eucharistic Miracles in its cathedral. In nearby Bolsena, a priest doubted the Eucharistic Presence during Mass and the host turned to real flesh and the wine to real blood during the consecration. The priest brought the blood-stained Corporal to Pope Urban in Orvieto, and it is now kept in a special reliquary for the faithful to view. See the steps of the Papal summer residence where Pope Urban IV held up the blood-stained corporal and announced his intention to institute the Feast of Corpus Christi. After venerating the sacred Eucharistic miracle, we will continue our drive through the beautiful Umbrian countryside to Assisi, a town which welcomes us in the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare, and our home for the next two nights. Upon arrival 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 began her religious life. We will then proceed to our hotel for check-in and dinner.
This morning we will visit St. Mary of the Angels Basilica, the site of the beloved Porziuncola the tiny chapel rebuilt by St. Francis and his fellow friars after Francis took the commandment from the Lord to “rebuild my church” literally, and where St. Clare began her life as a nun. On our tour of Assisi, we will witness where the power of the Eucharist turned away an army. The invading Saracen army was about to attack the Convent of San Damiano where St. Clare lived with her nuns in 1241. Even though bed-ridden, St. Clare got up and held the Blessed Sacrament in the air and saw the advancing army flee in terror establishing “The Miracle of the Eucharist of Assisi.” Also in the convent, we will visit the chapel where Jesus spoke to St. Francis from the crucifix, then visit the Basilica of St. Francis to venerate his burial place. Afterwards is the Basilica of St. Clare, which holds the famous San Damiano Crucifix that spoke to St. Francis, and where the golden locks of St. Clare’s hair and St. Francis’ poor patched tunic are kept. 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 back into Assisi for the evening.
This morning we will depart Assisi and journey south, stopping in Cascia to visit the Shrine of St. Rita and venerate the Eucharistic Miracle of Cascia. We then proceed to the medieval town of Greccio. 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. Continue on to Rome, our home for the next six nights.
We begin out day in the heart of the Vatican: St. Peter’s Basilica, where we contemplate centuries of history of the Catholic Church. Here we see the life-like Pieta statue by Michelangelo, stunning paintings, and the importance of Eucharistic Adoration at the chapel renovated under the direction of St. John Paul II. We then tour the Vatican Museum that hosts artifacts from around the world, some of the greatest depictions of the Eucharist in art, papal apartments, hand-woven intricate tapestries, and the stunning hallway of maps from the 1500s. The most famous ceiling in the world awaits us inside the Sistine Chapel. Popes are elected under this ceiling and the faithful have continued to come and be awed by its splendor for centuries.
The Scala Santa, or Holy Stairs, are prayed this morning by climbing them on your knees because they are so sacred. Christ walked on these 28 marble stairs at the home of Pontius Pilate to be condemned to death. For those who cannot climb the stairs on their knees there are other stairs available for walking up that also lead to the chapel at the top. Our prayerful experience continues with a visit to St. John Lateran, the Mother Church of the Roman Catholic faithful and the oldest basilica in Europe. Afterwards, it’s on to Rome’s lovely Trastevere District with medieval cobblestone streets and religious shrines decorating doorways. The main square is dominated by the 12th century Basilica di Santa Maria, a church full of classical wonders from glittering mosaics to the relics of the Holy Sponge and St. Apolonia. Our day continues with a visit to the Basilica di Santa Cecilia built atop her former home. One of the earliest martyrs of Rome, St. Cecilia survived a near-decapitation for three days and was the first saint whose body was found to be incorrupt. Enjoy dinner on your own at one of the many restaurants in this charming area.
Today we join thousands of other pilgrims at St. Peter’s Basilica to pray the Angelus with Pope Francis and receive his blessing – as his schedule allows (and only possible if reinstated). Afterwards, travel to St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, commemorating the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, one of the first deacons of Rome. Peek through one of the grates under the altar and you might see some of the ancient tunnels that led to a catacomb where he was first buried. The remains of the martyrs St. Justin and St. Stephen are also beneath the altar. This gem of a church also holds the body of Pope Pius IX who declared the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Our morning begins at St. Paul Outside the Walls, the great church built by Constantine over the tomb of St. Paul. We journey into the lives of the martyrs as we visit the Catacombs of St. Callixtus. Here Christians celebrated the Mass in secret and buried the martyrs, including several popes. This afternoon we visit Santa Maria Vallicella the mother church of the Oratorians founded by St. Philip Neri in 1561. See its vaulted ceilings painted in golds and heavenly blues with outstanding frescos. Afterwards, we visit Sant’Agostino, built in honor of St. Augustine. It holds the tomb of his steadfast and faithful mother, St. Monica. Enjoy a walking tour of some of Rome’s other famous sites, including the Piazza Navona, with Bernini’s lavish fountains, and the Pantheon with its unique dome that inspired Michelangelo. Guarantee another visit to Rome by throwing the traditional coin over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain, then venture out on your own for dinner.
We go to the heart of ancient Rome to the Mamertine Prison where St. Paul was kept in chains for his preaching of the Gospel. We have outside visits to the Forum, an ancient Roman marketplace, and the Coliseum, before visiting St. Clement’s Basilica. Built over the home of the fourth Pope, it holds great historical significance especially in its ancient fresco depicting Eucharistic worship at the end of the first century. At St. Peter in Chains, we see the actual chains that held St. Peter when he was imprisoned in Rome and view Michelangelo’s magnificent statue of Moses. At St. Mary Major we venerate the crib of Christ, view the famous icon painting attributed to St. Luke, and see inestimable artwork that makes Rome renowned throughout the world. Enjoy the rest of your last day in Rome with free personal time before coming together once more for a farewell dinner this evening.
Today we say “Ciao” to Italia and transfer to the airport for our return flight home, cherishing all of the wonderful memories and graces of this pilgrimage.
- Daily Mass at holy sites
- Roundtrip economy airfare from Indianapolis on Delta Airlines
- 8 nights’ accommodation, 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 as per itinerary (excluding drinks)
- These rates are based upon an assumption that the situation in Italy will be free of the government-imposed social distancing restrictions which are currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot be held responsible for any increase in these quoted rates in the event that government regulations are not relaxed or further restrictions are put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic that may result in increased operational costs.