11-Days: England & Scotlands Holy Sites

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

We depart USA en route to Glasgow, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: ARRIVE GLASGOW / EDINBURGH

Upon arrival in Glasgow we will be met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative, who will accompany us throughout our journey. We board our waiting motor coach to Edinburgh, aptly called the “Athens of the North.” Our morning sightseeing tour of Edinburgh will include a visit to Edinburgh Castle; we also see the Palace of Holyrood House, so tragically associated with the Stuarts. We drive to the Scott Monument, Princes Street, St. Giles Cathedral (Thistle Chapel), and the prestigious Edinburgh University, Greyfriars and the Mound. When our rooms are prepared at our hotel we will check-in. This afternoon is at leisure for shopping or other independent activities. Dinner is at our hotel. (D)

DAY 3: EDINBURGH / SCOTTISH LAKE DISTRICT

Today we take an excursion to view the beauty of the Scottish Lake District (the Scots call them ‘Lochs’ and we call them Lakes!) We begin at the town of Aberfoyle, the gateway to The Trossachs and lochs Ard, Chon, Venacher, Achray, Katrine and Arklet. Time this afternoon to browse among a fine selection of woolens, tweeds and other Scottish crafted goods. We return to our hotel in Edinburgh for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 4: EDINBURGH / DURHAM / FOUNTAINS ABBEY / YORK

This morning we leave Scotland and cross the border into England, heading southwards to Durham. Though a small city, its combination of university, natural beauty and stunning cathedral make it a must stop along our way. We visit the famous Durham Cathedral, which contains a shrine to St. Cuthbert.

As the story goes, some of the monks from the Holy Island of Lindesfarne were transporting the incorrupt body of St. Cuthbert, one of the holy men of early Christianity in what is now England. One of the monk’s had a dream in which the saint appeared, telling him to lay his remains in a place called ‘Dunholme.’ None of the monks knew such a place, but in a nearby conversation they overheard a woman talking to her friend about how she had found her lost cow on a nearby hill called ‘Dunholme.’ The monks followed her to the place and created a rustic shrine by placing some branches on the coffin. That was the beginning of Durham Cathedral. On the outside wall of the cathedral, look for the carving of two women and a cow which commemorates the foundation.

From Durham we are on our way to Fountains Abbey, one of the most beautiful sites in England and one of the most acclaimed ecclesiastical ruins in all of Europe. From the Abbey, we continue to York. Here, on the ruins of an ancient Roman temple, the newly converted Saxon King Edwin built the first Christian church in the North, around the year 627 AD. Later the Danes invaded and burned the city and rebuilt it as their English capital, calling it ‘Jorvik.’ We now know it as York.

In York we visit the Minster (church) with its majestic towers and priceless stained glass windows. It is also home to numerous relics, including a bone of St. Peter, to whom the Minster is dedicated. Our walking tour takes us through medieval York, through ancient cobbled streets where the upper stories of the houses lean precariously across the roadway towards each other. We will also see the quatrefoil-shaped Clifford’s Tower, the Guildhall, Merchant Adventurer’s Hall, Merchant Taylor’s Hall, St. William’s College and the Treasurer’s House. Our dinner and overnight are in York. (B, D)

DAY 5: YORK / LINCOLN / PETERBOROUGH

After some time at leisure this morning to soak up the medieval charm of York, we make our way to Lincoln, home to the third largest cathedral in England (after St. Paul’s in London and York Minster). From York we continue to Peterborough. During the Middle Ages, when the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Walsingham (see Day 6) was at its peak, Peterborough was one of the convenient stopping points for pilgrims traveling on foot. Like pilgrims who came before us, we pause here for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 6: PETERBOROUGH / WALSINGHAM / NORWICH

We depart Peterborough and make our way to Walsingham that was the most popular shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary and even today is visited by thousands of pilgrims who come here to pray and seek its healing waters.

The story goes that in the year 1061 Lady Richeldis de Faverches saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin who showed her what her house in Nazareth looked like and asked the Lady to build a replica. It is said that every English man and woman during those times traveled to Walsingham at least once in his or her life. Certainly every King and Queen of England visited the shrine. For 300 years after the reign of Henry VIII, it was not possible for Catholics to visit Walsingham, but in 1890 Miss Charlotte Boyd bought and restored the ‘Slipper Chapel’ which contains the Roman Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady.

After our visit here, we make our way to the town of Norwich, home of the mystic named St. Julian of Norwich, whose book Divine Love is a masterpiece of Christian mysticism. The saint, who died in 1413, uttered the famous words of wisdom: “All things shall be well, all things shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Our home is in Norwich for the evening, and dinner awaits us at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 7: NORWICH / BURY ST. EDMUNDS / CAMBRIDGE / LONDON

In Norwich we visit Julian’s humble cell, where she received and counseled thousands of visitors. From Norwich, we head south to St. Edmunds, the burial place of King St. Edmund the Martyr.

The story of St. Edmund is interesting. As you travel throughout England you will notice a popular carving that appears on churches:

a wolf holding the head of a man or guarding the head between his paws. When St. Edmund was martyred he was beheaded, but those who came to bury him could not find his head. A voice directed them to a forest where they found a wolf guarding Edmund’s head. The animal surrendered the head and followed the funeral procession to the grave. Only ruins of the abbey remain, where tradition tells us the Saint’s remains are buried.

Back on the road, we come to the famous University of Cambridge. Some time on our own to wander and browse, then back our bus to London, for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 8: LONDON / VISIT OF THE CITY

We start our morning with Mass at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart & Tyburn Martyrs in Hyde Park Place. We then continue with our morning city sightseeing tour, which will include Mayfair, Piccadilly, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard ceremony (if held), the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. A highlight will be a visit to impressive Westminster Abbey and then Westminster Cathedral, the Catholic Cathedral of London. This afternoon is at leisure for independent activities – you may care to visit an art gallery or museum, shop or stroll in one of London’s many beautiful parks. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 9: LONDON / EXCURSION TO CANTERBURY & CHARTWELL

This morning we drive out of London and through the Kentish countryside to Canterbury, the most important ancient city in England and traditional home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1170, Thomas A. Beckett was murdered in his own cathedral by the Knights of Henry II; he was canonized shortly after and for centuries pilgrims have flocked to his shrine.

As well as a detailed visit to the Cathedral we will also see the fine medieval walls of the city before driving to Chartwell, the family home of Sir Winston Churchill. He bought the estate in 1922 and, except for the war years, spent as much time as he could here. Rooms in the house reflect the heyday of the family’s life at Chartwell in the 1920’s and 30′ s, whilst fresh flowers, daily newspapers and the occasional cigar add their special atmosphere. We visit the house, gardens and studio before returning to our hotel. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

Note: We can also visit Aylesford Abbey on this day if you like.

DAY 10: LONDON / EXCURSION TO STONEHENGE & BATH

Today we drive out of London and head westwards to Stonehenge to visit the ancient monoliths placed in position nearly 2000 years before the birth of Christ and which were once used to calculate the eclipses and equinoxes. We then cross Salisbury Plain on our way to Bath, one of the most beautiful Georgian cities in England. It is named after the hot springs first used by the Romans and in the 18th century was a fashionable spa where almost everyone who enjoyed prominence visited “to take the waters.” We visit the Roman Baths, view the Abbey and see the charming squares and crescents as well as the River Avon and delightful Pulteney Bridge. We return to London for dinner and overnight. (B, D)

DAY 11: RETURN

We transfer to the London airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)

NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.