Tour overview

A SAMPLE 8 Day Two Centre Pilgrimage

You are invited to take this opportunity to deepen your own spiritual experience and join me on this special two-centre pilgrimage. We will encounter some of the great saints who have shaped Western Christianity.
We begin our programme in Rome, the Eternal city to visit those places which have done so much to give the Christian faith tangible expression, whether through the witness of the blood of the martyrs or the sheer beauty of art, sculpture and architecture.
Visit the Vatican with its amazing museums, the catacombs where the early Christians worshipped secretly. Visit the churches of St. Peter & St. Paul and of St. Mary & St. John. Besides its importance to the development of the Christian faith, Rome is an open-air museum where archaeological remains and monuments of past centuries and civilizations are found everywhere. The Coliseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps are just some of the marvellous wonders we will encounter.
We will finally we spend a couple of days in the Umbrian town of Assisi set atop a hillside about 80 miles away from Rome, Assisi is the birthplace of St Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order and the Patron Saint of Italy. This picturesque town boasts much art and fine architecture too. It offers a peaceful and serene comparison to Rome.
Like millions of Christians before us, we will seek to learn, pray and experience God in the pilgrimage sites of these cities.
I hope you will join me.


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Not Included

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Day 1, Monday

Manchester - Rome
We gather at Manchester Airport to join a morning flight to Rome. On arrival we will be met by our guide and then driven to central Rome to view the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) and the Trevi Fountain, before proceeding to check-in at the Hotel Park dei Massimi for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 2, Tuesday

Vatican & Classical Rome
This morning after breakfast we begin by visiting St Peter's Basilica, built on the site of St Peter’s crucifixion. The present grand building was started in 1506 and replaced an earlier Romanesque structure built by Constantine in 323. After visiting the Basilica and crypt, burial place of the Popes, we drive to St Onofrio, a titular church in Trastevere, Order of the Holy Sepulchre, where we will celebrate Mass. We then begin our tour of classic Rome beginning with the Pantheon, one of the best-preserved of all Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" but informally known as "Santa Maria della Rotonda”. After a break for lunch we make our way to the Basilica of San Clemente where we will explore the multiple layers of history, as we descend beneath the present medieval church. We end our day with a walk around the Coliseum and the Roman Forum before returning to our hotel in good time for dinner and overnight stay in Rome.

Day 3, Wednesday

Vatican & Catacombs
After breakfast we drive to the Vatican and if the Holy Father is in Rome, tickets for the traditional General Audience will be available for all who would like to attend. Others are free to indulge in a typical Roman ‘shopping experience’ or visit the Vatican Museum. After a break for lunch we visit the Catacomb of San Callisto, the burial chambers of early Christians where we celebrate Mass. We then proceed to the Monastery of San Gregorio, the motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity. This is the monastery where Gregory the Great lived and as Pope he sent St. Augustine to evangelise Britain (who became Augustine of Canterbury). Gregory’s stone throne still remains in a side chapel. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 4, Thursday

Christian Rome
After an early breakfast we drive over to All Saints Church for Mass. We then drive to St Peter’s Square where the Pope delivers the Angelus Prayer. After a break for lunch we visit the other three major basilicas of Rome. We Begin with the Basilica of St. Mary Major, one of the oldest shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, a shrine that contains a relic from the infant Jesus’ manger from Bethlehem. Then on to the Basilica of St John in Lateran, a former residence of the Popes prior to their return to Rome in 1377. The first basilica was dedicated on this site in the early 300s. From that time until the 1300s, it was the principal residence of the Popes. It is still officially the seat of the Patriarch of Rome. The current church dates from the 17th century. Finally we continue to the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, which houses the remains of St Paul under its main altar. The original Basilica was built by Constantine in 323 outside the city walls. Return to our hotel in good time to relax before dinner. Overnight stay In Rome.

Day 5, Friday

Ostia & Caravaggio
We leave Rome after an early breakfast and drive to Ostia Antica. It was ancient Rome’s port city and thus an important commercial centre of the Roman Empire and is situated at the mouth of the River Tiber. Due to heavy silting and a drop in sea level, the site lies around 2 miles inland. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics. Ostia was founded around the 7th century and most of the ancient buildings currently visible are from the 3rd century BC, notably the Castrum (military camp); of a slightly later date is the Capitolium (temple of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva). The site is similar to Pompeii in that it offers a vivid experience of Roman city life. We hope to celebrate Mass here. After a break for lunch we return to Rome. to explore the major works of Caravaggio – we begin with the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi near the Piazza Navona where we can view the three paintings dedicated to St Matthew. We then proceed to the Basilica of St Augustine by the Pantheon where we can view another of his masterpieces “The Madona of Loreto”. Dinner tonight will be at one of Rome’s delightful restaurants - The Fontanone. We will drive around the city of Rome (a short city-by-night tour), before returning to our hotel for overnight stay.

Day 6, Saturday

Greccio & Assisi
Today we depart Rome after an early breakfast and drive up into the Umbrian hills and on to the town of Assisi and enroute we will stop at the medieval town of Greccio. Set on a beautiful mountaintop, it is famous for its cool summer climate and its mineral springs. It is even more renowned for its connections with St. Francis of Assisi and as the birthplace of the Christmas crèche. On Christmas Night 1223 St. Francis is said to have led shepherds to the top of a nearby hill where they gathered together in a stable sheltering an ox and a donkey and according to legend, the Baby Jesus miraculously appeared in the manger. In 1228 a chapel was built to commemorate the miracle and later the Franciscan convent of Greccio was erected. From Greccio we proceed up through the hills of Perugia towards the town of Assisi and check-in to our hotel for dinner and the first of a two night stay.

Day 7, Sunday

Assisi & San Damiano
After breakfast we begin exploring the town of Assisi. It was the birthplace of St Francis, who founded the Franciscan order in the town in 1208 and St Clare (Chiara d’Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Sisters, which later became the Order of the Poor Clares after her death. It was here to in 1838 that St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was born of a local family. We begin our tour by visiting the Basilica of St Francis, the mother church of the Franciscan order, where we can view the Giotto frescoes. We then proceed to visit the Basilica of St Clare, the monastery of St Damiano and the St Francis Heritage where we will spend time, before returning to Assisi town centre for some free time before dinner and our final night of the pilgrimage.

Day 8, Monday

Rome - Manchester
Today we leave Assisi after an early breakfast and travel west back towards Rome’s Fiumicino airport and check-in for our afternoon flight back to Manchester. We plan to arrive back in Manchester mid afternoon.