14-Days: The Grand Pilgrimage to Spain & Portugal

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

We depart the USA en route to Madrid with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: ARRIVE MADRID

We arrive in Madrid and meet our Catholic Travel Centre tour escort who will accompany us throughout our journey. While our rooms are being prepared at the hotel, we enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour of the city. We transfer to our hotel for dinner and evening. (D)

DAY 3: MADRID: VISIT OF THE CITY

This morning we will visit the famous Prado Museum that contains the most impressive collection of classical paintings in the entire world. We will also visit the Royal Palace of the Bourbons which has over 2,000 rooms, including outstanding rooms such as the Room of the Throne. We will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Cathedral. The rest of the day is at leisure as we enjoy the pulsating atmosphere of this impressive city, strolling as we do through the ever-charming streets of Madrid. Tonight we enjoy dinner with entertainment at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 4: MADRID / SEGOVIA / AVILA

This morning we make our way to Segovia to pay our respects to one of the great mystics of our tradition – St. John of the Cross. St. John’s most famous work was THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. We will visit the sepulcher of St. John of the Cross during our visit to Segovia. Here we celebrate Mass. We will also visit the great cathedral here, the last great Gothic cathedral built in Spain. On the horizon you will see famous Alcazar Castle. It might look familiar – Walt Disney reportedly drew his inspiration for the Disney castle from this very castle!
This afternoon we make our way to the walled town of Avila, with the best preserved medieval walls in all of Europe. Its full name is ‘Avila de los Caballeros’ (Avila of the Knights). Avila is best known as the birthplace of one of the great mystics and reformers of the Church. We know her as St. Teresa of Avila and also as St. Teresa of Jesus. She became a nun at age 19 and soon rebelled against her order. She founded her first convent in 1562 at age of 47 and continued to reform convents across Spain with the assistance of her spiritual director, St. John of the Cross. Teresa was beatified in 1614 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. In 1970, Pope Paul VI recognized her with the title of Doctor of the Church. Tonight we gather for dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 5: AVILA: VISIT OF THE TOWN

Today we visit the Monastery of the Incarnation where St. Teresa spent many years of her life. Here we celebrate Mass on this Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila. We also visit other sites important in the Saint’s life, including the Monastery of St. Joseph, her first foundation and the Church of St. Teresa, where she was baptized and where the Carmelite Spirituality Institute is presently housed. The rest of the day is at leisure. Dinner is served at our hotel. (B)

DAY 6: AVILA / ALBA DE TORMES / LEÓN

After breakfast we continue our journey to Alba de Tormes, where we view the relics of St. Teresa of Avila in the Carmelite Convent. Here we celebrate Mass. From here we continue to León, the capital of the old kingdom bearing its name inserted in the coat of arms of Spain. The city’s Royal Pantheon serves as the resting place to more than 20 monarchs!
This historical city had its foundation in the year 68 BC when the Romans built a fortified camp named Legio. It is now a wealthy city with wide avenues blending with the half-timbered old city. Some of the Roman ramparts are still evident, but the chief treasures of the Basilica of San Isidoro are: its exquisite crypt, the adjoining Royal Pantheon (called the Sistine Chapel of Romanesque art), the Gothic Santa María Cathedral (called Pulchra Leonina) and the Monastery of San Marcos, former home of the Knights of Santiago.

León was the capital of Christian Spain in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. For hundreds of year it has been a major stop along the Way of St. James, which pilgrims followed to Santiago de Compostela. The Camino de Santiago goes over the nearby thirteenth century Orbigo Bridge. We enter the city through the Puerta Moneda, the very gate through which the medieval pilgrims entered. We enjoy a tour of the city and dinner is served at our accommodations. (B, D)

DAY 7: LEÓN / ASTORGA / O CEBREIRO / SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

We proceed towards Astorga, the capital of a small region called La Maragatería. It dates back to the Roman period when it was called Asturca Augusta, being one of the stop-over points along the Way of Saint James. It once held over 25 buildings dedicated to hospitals and albergues (inns), one of them being the Hospital de San Juan at the cathedral’s square. We will have time on our own to enjoy walking through this charming town.
With the fervor which has inspired the centuries old pilgrims in their faithful Way of Saint James, we renew our journey towards Santiago de Compostela entering the beautiful green Galicia, stopping over at O Cebreiro, the medieval (X-XII AD) town renown for its Eucharistic Miracle of Body and Blood and the place where we will celebrate today’s Holy Mass. This afternoon we continue our pilgrimage on to Santiago de Compostela while we admire the charming Galician countryside. Dinner is served at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 8: SANTIAGO: VISIT OF THE SHRINE

The name “Compostela” from the Latin “field of the star” was named after the tradition of St. James (Santiago), the Patron Saint of Spain. This city has been the third major site visited by Christian pilgrims and visitors (after Jerusalem and Rome) and is the present capital of Galicia. .
We will delight in our walking tour on the labyrinthine cobbled streets of this medieval city, virtually intact since no man or natural upheavals have produced any damage to the city, a true national monument with its buildings built of practically indestructible granite stone. We will visit the Plaza del Obradoiro and the great Cathedral that dominates the town. Its main entrance is two stories above the plaza. The statue of St. James smiles benignly down upon the faithful. The towers soar into the sky. The Portico de la Gloria, designed by Maestro Mateo and completed in 1188, is the finest example of Romanesque sculpture.

Inside the Cathedral we see more priceless architecture, statues and religious treasures. Behind the silver and gold main altar are the sarcophagi of St. James and two of his disciples. A statue of St. James stands above surrounded by an elaborate display of drapery and sculpture. We shall complete this portion of our pilgrimage by kissing the hem of the jeweled cloak that drapes the statue after the celebration of the Eucharist. There will be time to browse through the quaint narrow streets and plazas, admiring such buildings as the Neoclassical Rajoy Palace, now the city hall; the Romanesque Colegio de San Jeronimo and the utterly stunning Parador de Los Reyes Católicos – all buildings which surround the other three sides of this magnificent plaza. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 9: SANTIAGO / COIMBRA / FATIMA

This morning after Mass we board our motor coach and make our way to the University town of Coimbra, where we will visit the Cathedral and University Library. After our visit we proceed to Fatima where in 1917 the Blessed Mother appeared to three simple shepherd children and exhorted mankind to pray for world peace. We celebrate Mass in Fatima. Dinner awaits us at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 10: FATIMA: VISIT OF THE SHRINE

Today we begin with Mass at the Basilica. Then we visit the Tombs of Francisco, Jacinto, and Lucia; the Aljustrel where the children lived; and the Valinhos, where Our Lady appeared after the children’s return from prison. We have the option of praying the Stations of the Cross plus we have time for our own devotions. Tonight we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 11: FATIMA / NAZARE / LISBON

We depart Fatima and stop at the charming fishing village of Nazare (named after Nazareth) and home to a local devotion to the Blessed Mother. The Chapel of the Black Madonna of Our Lady of Nazare is dramatically set on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Here we celebrate today’s Mass then we take some time to stroll along this quaint seaside village. We then continue on our way to Lisbon for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 12: LISBON: VISIT OF THE CITY

We begin with a visit to ‘Santo Antonio Da Se’, marking the site where St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of Portugal, was born in 1195. Here we celebrate Mass. We make a visit to the Cathedral housing the Saint’s baptismal font. As our tour continues we see the Belem Tower and the Gothic monastery of St. Jeronimo. The balance of the afternoon is free for shopping. Dinner is served at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 13: LISBON: EXCURSION TO CASCAIS & ESTORIL, LEISURE

This morning we travel to two beautiful coastal towns outside Lisbon. We begin today with Cascais, a small fishing town known for its open air market and its intricate patterned cobblestone streets. After spending some time strolling the streets of Cascais we travel to Estoril, known as the “Portuguese Riviera”. Once a prime location for European royal exiles, Estoril still retains a relaxed and gracious lifestyle. We return to Lisbon for an afternoon at leisure. This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 14: RETURN USA

This morning we transfer to the Lisbon 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.