DAY 1: DEPART USA
We depart USA en route to Rome, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.
DAY 2: ROME/ASSISI
We arrive in Rome and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative who will accompany us throughout our journey. We make our way to the tiny Umbrian town of Assisi, which clings to the side of Mt. Subasio. We check-in to our hotel in Assisi for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
DAY 3: ASSISI: BASILICA OF ST. FRANCIS, CHIESA NUOVA, SAN RUFINO, BASILICA OF ST. CLARE & SAN DAMIANO
Today we begin with Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis. After Mass we enjoy a guided tour of the Basilica. We continue with a walking tour of the city, visiting the major sites associated with St. Francis and St. Clare, including the Chiesa Nuova, built over the home of Francis’ family, and the Church of San Rufino, with the baptismal font of the Saint.
This Afternoon we visit the Church of St. Clare, where St. Clare lies in repose. Here we see the original ‘San Damiano’ crucifix that spoke to Francis, urging him to “rebuild My Church”. Francis interpreted the dream literally and went to work on repairing the building at San Damiano. Only later did he understand the deeper meaning of the dream. We continue to the Church of San Damiano. Here too we see the original ‘San Damiano Cross’ that ‘spoke’ to Francis. Dinner is at our accommodations this evening. (B, D)
DAY 4: ASSISI: CARCERI HERMITAGE & BASILICA OF ST. MARY OF THE ANGELS
This morning we meet our local guide at the Piazza near St. Clare’s Church and take taxis up the winding road (buses cannot make these sharp turns) to the Eremo delle Carceri (Hermitage), secluded some 2 1/2 miles outside the town of Assisi. Here we celebrate Mass. This is where St. Francis often retired to pray. Here, in the midst of the lush green forest and the singing birds, one gets a deep sense of the spirit of St. Francis. We take some time for our own private reflections, before returning to the town down below.
After lunch on our own, we visit the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, containing the Porziuncola, built by St. Francis, and the Mother Church of the Franciscan Order. Nearby is the site of Francis’ death. Dinner and the evening are at our accommodations. (B, D)
DAY 5: ASSISI / ROME: COLISEUM, CATACOMBS, ST. PAUL’S
We depart Assisi en route to Rome. In Rome, we visit at the Coliseum. Its real name was the Flavian Amphitheater, after emperors who built it in the first century after Christ. Coliseum refers to the ‘colossal’ statue of Nero that at one time stood at the entrance. Then we make our way to the Catacombs of St. Calixtus, housing the tombs of many of the early popes. We then celebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, housing the Tomb of St. Paul the Apostle, affectionately known as the Apostle of the Gentiles. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 6: ROME: VATICAN MUSEUM & BASILICA OF ST. PETER
This morning we enjoy a tour of the Vatican Museum, an incredible collection of art accumulated by the popes, and the Sistine Chapel, featuring Michelangelo’s masterworks. We visit the Basilica of St. Peter with our local guide. Here we see one of Michelangelo’s great works, the statue of the Blessed Mother holding her crucified son. We know it as the Pieta. We also visit the tomb of Pope John Paul II. We have some time at leisure to go on our own up to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, where you can gain a striking panoramic view of the city or visit some of the excellent religious article shops in the area. Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 7: ROME: MAJOR BASILICAS
This morning we visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Mother. Here we celebrate Mass. Nearby we see the Basilica of St. John Lateran. It is here that St. Francis persuaded Pope Innocent III to give permission to begin the Franciscan Order. The night before, the Pope had seen a man in a dream and the man was supporting the tottering building of St. John Lateran. The next day, when Francis appeared before Pope Innocent, His Holiness recognized the face from the dream and consented to Francis’ request. Nearby is the Scala Santa, purportedly the stairs that Christ climbed prior to his condemnation by Pontius Pilate. Dinner tonight is at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 8: ROME: PAPAL AUDIENCE & WALKING TOUR OF ROME
This morning we transfer to Pope Paul VI Audience Hall for the General Audience with the Holy Father (subject to Vatican schedule).
This afternoon we will enjoy a walking tour, starting at the Trevi Fountain, where we toss our traditional three coins. From here we continue to the Piazza Trinita dei Monti at the top of the Spanish Steps, affording a romantic panoramic view of the city of Rome. Our tour continues across the city to the Pantheon and at the Piazza Navona, a popular gathering place for denizens of Rome. We finish our day with Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church for the closing liturgy of our pilgrimage. Tonight we celebrate with a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 9: RETURN
We transfer to the Rome 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.