9-Days: The Loyola Experience in Spain

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DAY1: DEPART USA

We depart the United States en route to Madrid, Spain.

DAY 2: ARRIVE MADRID

We arrive in Madrid in the morning and are met by our representative of Catholic Travel Centre. We proceed to downtown Madrid via private motor coach for a panoramic tour of the city, including the Plaza Mayor, the Plaza del Sol, and the Parco de Buen Retiro. We continue to our hotel where we check-in. Dinner is served at our hotel. (D)

DAY 3: MADRID / BURGOS / LOYOLA

We depart Madrid north en route to Burgos. El Cid, probably Spain’s most famous national hero, was born just north of this charming city. He is buried in the Cathedral of Burgos, the third largest church of Spain and one of the country’s most striking for its beautiful Spanish gothic style. We stop here, and then make our way to Loyola for dinner and the evening. Here, in 1491 Iñigo Lopez de Loyola Oñaz was born in the Castle of Loyola. We know him better as Ignatius of Loyola. Our home for the next two nights is a centrally located retreat house. This evening, we enjoy dinner and an orientation. (D)

DAY 4: LOYOLA: VISIT OF IGNATIAN SITES, PLUS AN EXCURSION TO SAN SEBASTIAN

In Loyola, we visit Ignatius’ former house and the museum. We include a visit to Aranzazu, a popular shrine to Our Lady at the time of Ignatius and where we know Ignatius prayed for strength to overcome the temptations to which he had formerly yielded. Here we celebrate Mass.
This afternoon, we are free to stay in Loyola for our own time of reflection. For those interested, our guide will take us on an afternoon excursion to

the beautiful seaside resort town of San Sebastian, where we will have some time to view the stunning seascape and meander along the cobblestone streets. We gather as a group this evening for dinner in Loyola. (B, D)

DAY 5: LOYOLA / PAMPLONA / XAVIER / HUESCA

We board our motor coach with our tour escort. Our first stop is Pamplona, recalling the site where Ignatius received a wound that was to plague him for life. This event was the starting point for his conversion to Christ. We continue in pilgrimage to Xavier Castle, strategically positioned between Navarre and Aragon. We call to mind the life of St. Francis Xavier at our liturgy and then enjoy a light lunch and visit the castle. After crossing the mountainous terrain, we visit the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña and complete our day in the town of Huesca. (B, L, D)

DAY 6: HUESCA / MONTSERRAT

We make our way to Montserrat, the spiritual heart of Catalonia and home to the dramatically set Benedictine monastery. This Marian shrine has attracted pilgrims for over 700 years, much as it did Ignatius in March of 1522. We pause here to visit the Black Madonna of Montserrat, before whom Ignatius put down his sword and where he exchanged his fancy clothes for those of a beggar. We celebrate Eucharist in the monastic chapel before dinner. (B, D)

DAY 7: MONTSERRAT / MANRESA / BARCELONA

After morning prayer we depart for Manresa, a place of profound conversion for Ignatius. We enjoy an audiovisual presentation and a tour of the museum at Manresa. We celebrate Eucharist in the cave on the banks of the Cardoner River where Ignatius received a vision that provided him with deep insights into the spiritual life and altered the course of his own life. From the initial insights he received here, Ignatius went on to compose the “Spiritual Exercises.” Ignatius remained in Manresa for about a year and a half before continuing his journey to Barcelona. After lunch at a local restaurant, we follow Ignatius’ path to Barcelona with dinner on our own. (B, L)

DAY 8: BARCELONA: VISIT OF THE CITY

We begin with Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, where Ignatius would often beg for alms. Then we continue by motor coach to view the major sites of Barcelona including Gaudi’s Basilica of the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family). We end at the Pueblo Español, where we enjoy a festive farewell lunch.
The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the city and roam thru the old gothic quarter of the city. (B, L)

DAY 9: RETURN USA

Today our motor coach and escort transfer us to the Barcelona airport for our return flight home. (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.