DAY 1: DEPART
We depart for Rome.
DAY 2: ARRIVE ROME
We arrive in Rome and are met by our experienced tour manager who will accompany us throughout our journey. We board on our motor-coach and transfer to our hotel for the check in.
Depending on arrival flight time, we visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Divine Love where we will venerate the miracolous image of the Virgin Mary, portrayed as sitting on a Throne and holding the child Jesus in her arms with a dove descending upon her as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, who is indeed the Divine Love. The image is the dispenser of many graces whose evidences are visible everywhere within the complex. We can celebrate mass or have some time to explore and gather in prayer in the various holy sites that the sanctuary offers such as the old church, the new sanctuary, the crypt and many others.
We then continue to our hotel for dinner and the evening. Overnight.
DAY 3: ROME
Breakfast at hotel.
This morning we enjoy a guided tour which includes some of the most important basilicas of Rome. We start our visit with the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Mother, and pray before the Icon of Mary Salus Populi Romani (Mary the salvation of the Roman people).
We then visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran and the Scala Santa. Founded by Constantine in 312 AD, it comes about 14 years before the foundation of the Basilica of Saint Peter, for this reason it is absolutely the oldest basilica in the world. Inside we will see the monumental statues of the 12 Apostles among which stand out Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint John Evangelist, while over the tabernacle on the Papal Altar, in silver cases behind a grating, the relics of Apostles Peter and Paul. We also visit the nearby Scala Santa that, according to tradition, Saint Helene – mother of Constantine – took to Rome during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This is considered the staircase that Jesus climbed to Pilate short before being crucified and can only be climbed on your knees.
We have some free time for own lunch. In the afternoon we visit two very important basilicas, which will take us back to our Christian roots. We start with a visit to the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem,which still contains the relics of the Cross brought by St. Helena herself after her trip to the Holy Land. This basilica is also part of the route of the “Seven Churches” credited to St. Philip Neri, that ancient pilgrims used to visit on foot.
We then continue our tour and visit another of the Seven Churches: the Basilica of St. Lawrence outside Walls, dating back to the year 330 AD. We visit this beautiful and unique ancient Basilica and its crypt hosting the tomb of Saint Lawrence, martyred in 258 AD. We also view the relics of Saint Stephen, traditionally venerated as the first martyr of Christianity.
Transfer back to our hotel and balance of the afternoon at our leisure.
Dinner at the hotel and overnight.
DAY 4: ROME
We make our way to the Vatican City to attend the General Papal Audience (subject to the Holy Father’s schedule). We then have free time for lunch in the Vatican area.
Early afternoon we enjoy a guided visit of the Basilica of St. Peter which marks his burial site. We will learn the story of his ministry and martyrdom in Rome. We will also admire the Michelangelo’s Pieta, the Bernini’s baldachin located over the high altar of the Basilica, the Altar of the Chair and the tomb of Pope John Paul II. At the end of our visit we can return back to the hotel with our included transfer or enjoy an optional visit of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
Dinner is at our hotel tonight. Overnight.
DAY 5: ROME: EXCURSION TO ASSISI
After breakfast we depart on a full day excursion to Assisi, the city of St Francis and Clare. Our guide will meet us for a walking city sightseeing tour including the Basilica of St. Francis, visit his tomb and have the opportunity to view a series of frescoes depicting his life in the upper Basilica.
We then continue with the Chiesa Nuova, the birthplace of St. Francis, followed by a visit to the nearby Santuario Della Spogliazione where the Blessed Carlo Acutis’ tomb is placed. Carlo is the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church, on October 10 2020 in a Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Our tour will end with a visit to the Church of St. Clare, the foundress of the Poor Clare Sisters. This Saint followed the teachings of St. Francis by living a life of poverty and humility.
We then have time at our leisure to explore the city and have lunch.
In the afternoon, we board our motorcoach and transfer to Rome. We stop at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, where St. Francis spent most of his life and visit the “Porziuncola”, where St. Francis founded his order of the Minor Friars, and the “Capella del Transito, the place of St. Francis’ death.
Continue to Rome the Eternal city and our hotel in time for dinner and overnight.
DAY 6: ROME:
Buffet breakfast. We then transfer to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside Walls, erected on the Saint’s burial site in 313 AD, when Emperor Costantine promulgated the Edict of Milan which put an end to the persecution of Christians, allowing them freedom of worship and encouraging the construction of sacred places for prayer. We celebrate the closing mass of our pilgrimage in this basilica.
After mass we transfer to the Catacombs of St. Calixtus and enjoy a guided visit of this underground cemeterial complex with a network of galleries about 12 miles long, in four levels, more than twenty meters deep. In it were buried tens of martyrs, 16 popes and many early Christians. We then transfer back to our hotel. On the way we enjoy a panoramic tour of some of the sites of Ancient Rome: we drive by the Circo Massimo, the Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. The afternoon will be at our leisure for self-exploration or shopping. Dinner is at our hotel. Overnight.
DAY 7: RETURN
This morning we transfer to the local airport to board our return flight home.