Pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, and Orvieto
Travelling to Italy, led by Fr Martin Queenan. 13th June - 20th June
Almost since the dawn of Christianity in our country, our ancestors in the faith have felt drawn to the city of the apostles and martyrs, to visit their tombs and to see their successors. Pilgrims have travelled to Rome to pray, to see, to study, and above all to be in the place where, by visiting the tombs of St Peter and St Paul, they can be close to the historical Christ. Few other cities in the world have such a wealth of historic beauty, preserving the wonders of one of the most fascinating ancient civilizations - hence its nickname; La Città Eterna (The Eternal City).
What will this city be for us in June 2017? What will be our experience? Will we be exhausted by too many ruins, too many basilicas, museums, shops and churches, too much spaghetti? Rome should be for every Christian something more - a deeply religious experience. Visiting Rome for the Feast of Corpus Christi (Thursday 15 June) will enable us to participate in the torchlight Eucharistic procession from the Lateran Basilica to the Basilica of St Mary Major concluding with the Holy Father leading the faithful in Eucharistic Adoration and offering solemn Benediction.
The Corpus Christi (Corpus Domini in Italy) Procession at Orvieto ranks high among the devout, dramatic and colourful traditions of Catholic Europe. The object of special devotion is the Santo Corporale, a blood-stained altar-cloth sometimes named after Bolsena where a miracle occurred in 1263. The procession is a pageant, but a very dignified and devout one, in which the Corporal, carried with the Blessed Sacrament, is escorted by civic dignitaries in medieval costume and historical tableaux.
At Assisi the prayerful spirit and charism of St Francis touches the pilgrim of today. This unique Umbrian hilltop town was home to the most lovable character of medieval history who established his poor and simple brotherhood around a chapel know as “the little plot” - the Portiuncula in the plain below Assisi.
Day One: Tuesday 13th June
Bristol - Rome
Late morning departure from Bristol by scheduled flight on easyJet. Arrive in Rome local time and transfer to our accommodation within walking distance of the Vatican, the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis. Dinner will be in the guest house this evening.
Day Two: Wednesday 14th June
This morning we take our seats in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Papal Audience (if His Holiness, Pope Francis, is in Rome at the time). Lunch will be at our own choice. This afternoon is left free for those who have pre-booked a visit to the Scavi, the excavations between St. Peters, carried out on the order of Pope Pius XII, and which reveals a necropolis where the first Pope, St Peter, is believed to be buried. For those not booked for the Scavi, a visit to the nearby Castel Sant Angelo is recommended. Originally built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian and his family, it later became a papal fortress, after Pope Gregory the Great had a chapel built over the mausoleum in 590 A.D. Dinner will be in the guest house.
Day Three: Thursday 15th June
The Feast of Corpus Domini
We hope to celebrate an early mass at St Peter’s Basilica. After returning to our accommodation for breakfast, we drive to the Basilica of St Mary Major, where we will have a guided visit. From here we visit the nearby Church of S.Pressede (St Praxedes) which is an early Christian Foundation with some of the first apse mosaics in Rome. Today’s included meal will be lunch in our guesthouse. The afternoon will be free, until in the early evening we participate in the torchlight Eucharistic procession from the Basilica of St John Lateran to the Basilica of St Mary Major, concluding with the Holy Father leading the faithful in Eucharistic adoration and offering solemn benediction. Dinner will be at our own choice this evening.
Day Four: Friday 16th June
In the Footsteps of St Paul
We start today outside the city with a visit to the Cistercian Abbey of Tre Fontane (Three Fountains) which was founded on the site where traditionally St Paul was beheaded on the orders of Nero. We continue to the Basilica of St Paul. This impressive Church built in the form of a Roman Basilica contains Paul’s tomb and all along the nave portraits of all the Popes. We hope to celebrate Mass here. We continue after lunch to one of the Catacombs, burial place of the early Christians, for a guided tour. We return to our accommodation for dinner.
Day Five: Saturday 17th June
Greccio - Assisi
This morning we join our coach and drive north to the Rieti Valley, known as the Holy Valley because the local people so readily accepted St Francis’ message. We continue to Greccio where we visit the sanctuary where Francis enacted the first Living Tableau of the Nativity. Here we have time for a visit and we celebrate Mass in the sanctuary. Optional lunch will be at a local restaurant (at £18), in the village of Greccio before we join our coach and continue to Assisi. We drive up into the Old Town of Assisi and check into the hotel San Giancomo for a three night stay. After dinner, we travel to Santa Maria Degli Angeli, where we join the procession for the Eve of the Feast.
Day Six: Sunday 18th June
This morning, an early departure by coach to Orvieto, the medieval town which housed the beautiful basilica containing frescos by Fra Angelico and the relics of the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena. The Corpus Christi (Corpus Domini in Italy) Procession at Orvieto ranks high among the devout, dramatic and colourful traditions of Catholic Europe. The object of special devotion is the Santo Corporale, a blood-stained altar-cloth sometimes named after Bolsena where a miracle occurred in 1263. The procession is a pageant, but a very dignified and devout one, in which the Corporal, carried with the Blessed Sacrament, is escorted by civic dignitaries in medieval costume and historical tableaux. We will also visit the church of San Domenico where St Thomas Aquinas wrote the office for the feast of Corpus Christi. Mass will be celebrated during the day. There will be some free time with lunch at choice before we transfer back to our hotel in Assisi. Dinner will be in our hotel this evening.
Day Seven: Monday 19th June
This morning we celebrate Mass in the Basilica of St Francis. Afterwards we have a visit followed by a meeting with one of the friars of the Sacro Convento. The rest of the morning will be spent at the Basilica of St Francis. We will see the Lower Basilica with its beautiful frescoes by Cimabue and Simone de Martine and we will also visit the crypt housing St Francis’ tomb. This afternoon we have a guided tour of the old town as St Francis and St Clare would have known it. We see both the saints’ houses, and also visit the Basilica of St Clare and see the crucifix, originally in San Damiano, that told Francis to “rebuild my church, which stands in ruins”. Dinner this evening will be in our hotel.
Day Eight: Tuesday 20th June
Assisi - Rome - Bristol
This morning we leave Assisi and transfer by coach to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for our return easyJet flight back to Bristol.
This tour involves a substantial amount of walking, some of which will be over irregular surfaces such as cobblestones and badly-maintained walking areas. If everyday walking is something you find difficult, this tour may be unsuitable for you.
This itinerary is a guide and subject to change.
Travel Insurance: £33
Single room supplement: £98
Return scheduled flights on easyJet: Bristol - Rome. UK and Italy airport departure taxes. 20kg luggage allowance per person.7-nights accommodation in shared twin-bedded rooms in Rome (4 nights) at the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, and Assisi (3 nights) at the San Giancomo. Meal plan: 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 6 dinners. All touring and transfers in Italy by air-conditioned coach as per the itinerary. Entrance fees as per the itinerary. Daily Masses arranged on request. Bilingual (English and Italian-speaking) Tour Manager to accompany the group whilst in Italy.
Travel insurance, currently £33. Single room supplement at £98 per person for 7 nights (limited availability).UK coach transfers. Fuels surcharges if passed on by the airline. 6 lunches, drinks.Gratuities to hotel staff, coach drivers, guides and restaurants.
Terms of Payment:
You can confirm your place on the tour by completing a booking form and returning it to Pax Travel Ltd with a deposit of £200 (with the insurance premium if necessary).