12 Days – Shrines of France

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

We depart en route to Paris, France. Complimentary meals and beverages are served aloft.

DAY 2: ARRIVE PARIS

We arrive in Paris and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative, who will accompany us throughout our trip. We proceed to our centrally located hotel. We will enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour of the city to orient ourselves to the City of Lights, then we rest at the hotel for the balance of the day, with dinner served at the hotel. (D)

DAY 3: PARIS: VISIT OF THE CITY

We visit the Shrine of St. Catherine Laboure where the tradition of the Miraculous Medal began. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared 3 times to St. Catherine starting in July of 1830. She asked St. Catherine to have a medal struck and showed her exactly what the medal should look like. She told St. Catherine this message, “All those who carry this will receive Grace in abundance, especially if they wear the medal around their neck and say this prayer (O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee) confidently, they will receive special protection from the Mother of God and abundant graces.” St. Catherine is one of the incorrupt saints and seeing her body, she looks as if she just died yesterday.

We continue to visit the nearby sights of the repose of St. Louise de Marilac and St. Vincent de Paul. Afterwards, we proceed to Notre Dame Cathedral and finish our day at Montmartre and the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, offering a spectacular vista of the city. Dinner and overnight are at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 4: PARIS: LISIEUX & CHARTRES

We make a full day’s excursion to Lisieux, site of St. Therese of Lisieux, where the Little Flower of Jesus lies in repose. We visit the basilica and the Carmel chapel. After lunch on our own, we return to Paris via Chartres. Chartres served as a former pagan sanctuary that was evangelized in the fourth century and became a pilgrimage site in 876 when Charles the Bald gave the town the tunic that tradition says was worn by the Virgin Mary while giving birth to Jesus. The 13th century cathedral dominates this idyllic town, surrounded by wheat fields. The church building itself is literally a Bible in stone, with over 4,000 sculpted figures and 5,000 figures in the stained glass windows. Dinner and overnight are at our hotel in Paris. (B, D)

DAY 5: PARIS / NEVERS / PARAY LE MONIAL / ARS

We depart Paris to Nevers and the Convent of St. Goldard, where St. Bernadette of Lourdes lies in repose. We continue to Paray Le Monial, where the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began. We make our way finally to Ars, home of John Vianney, the patron saint of priests. (B, D)

DAY 6: ARS / ROCAMADOUR

We depart Ars for a scenic ride across the French countryside, arriving in Rocamadour in time for dinner. Attraction to Rocamadour stems from its religious interest, historical significance, beautiful architecture, and most of all, for the spectacular views: Rocamadour is a cliff-hugging medieval village that was built on a limestone cliff rising 490 feet above the Alzou canyon. Absolutely beautiful. (B, D)

DAY 7: ROCAMADOUR / ALBI

In Rocamadour, 216 steps lead to the top of the rocky plateau on which is located seven chapels. As an act of penance, pilgrims would regularly make the entire climb on their knees, and some still do today. There is also an elevator for those less eager to climb the stairs. We celebrate the day’s liturgy in the Chapel of Our Lady, where a statue of the Black Madonna is an object of great devotion.

After time for our own prayers, we continue to Albi, a charming village known as the ‘red town’ since it features virtually every conceivable shade of red brick. Among the monuments of the town is the Cathedral of Saint Cecilia, claimed to be the world’s largest brick construction. Built as a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the Cathar heresy, this gigantic brick structure was embellished over the centuries, with its impressive door and bell tower. Also of great interest in this town is the Palais de la Berbie, formerly the Bishops’ Palace of Albi, and now the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. It is one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in France, with gorgeous gardens and teraces from which you have a wonderful view of the River Tarn. Dinner and the evening are at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 8: ALBI / TOULOUSE / LOURDES

We depart Albi to Lourdes, stopping in Toulouse where St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, lies in repose. Some of the sights of Toulouse consist of Saint Sernin Basilica, which is the largest romanesque church in Western Europe, Saint Etienne Cathedral, the “Capitole”, housing the City Hall & theater, and the church and cloister of the Jacobins, which form the most complete group of monastic structures in France. Toulouse, a modern city, has also preserved its picturesque outdoor markets. We continue to Lourdes in time for dinner and the candlelight procession (subject to seasonal schedules). (B, D)

DAY 9: LOURDES: VISIT OF THE SHRINE

We begin our pilgrimage in Lourdes with Mass at the Grotto of the

Apparitions, followed by a walking tour of the town ‘In the Footsteps of Bernadette,’ including the Cachot (the former prison that was home to Bernadette’s family), the Boly Mill, and the Hospice, where Bernadette spent several years of her youth and made her First Holy Communion. The balance of the day is at leisure for visiting the baths and prayer. In the evening, we again have the option to participate in the processions (subject to seasonal schedules). (B, D)

DAY 10: LOURDES: VISIT TO BARTRES

We attend the International Mass in the underground basilica (subject to schedule). Afterwards, we visit the nearby small town of Bartres which is home to the small parish church devoted to St. John the Baptist where St. Bernadette liked to come and pray. We will also see the farm and sheepfold where young Bernadette worked while living with her aunt in Bartres. The afternoon is ours to visit the baths, and this evening we are welcome to join in the candlelight processions once more (subject to seasonal schedules). (B, D)

DAY 11: LOURDES: DAY AT LEISURE

Today is entirely at our leisure in prayer in Lourdes. Perhaps you may wish to make the Stations of the Cross, or revisit a site that was particularly touching to you. This evening, our group will gather to pray in the evening procession together (subject to seasonal schedules). (B, D)

DAY 12: RETURN USA

This morning we transfer to the 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.