Very Reverend Russ Mower, V.F.
Fr. Russ is pastor at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church and School, and chaplain at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas, Texas. He attended seminary at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts and was ordained to the Priesthood in May 2015. He attended Wichita State University and his undergraduate degree is in Fire Protection Engineering Technology. Prior to being called to priesthood, he had a 33-year career in the fire service and served seven years in the U.S. Air Force. Fr. Russ is a widower and has three adult daughters and four grandchildren. He is a native of Waterford, Connecticut and enjoys hiking and traveling.
Reverend Mark Brantley
Fr. Mark serves as pastor of the three parishes in Barber County, Kansas. He was ordained on June 3, 2017 for the Diocese of Dodge City. He attended Baylor University for his undergraduate degree in business and the University of South Dakota for his MBA. Fr. Mark’s “other” career was primarily in aviation. He served 26 years as a U.S. Air Force pilot and nearly 10 years as a commercial airline pilot. His hobbies include scuba diving, traveling, and amateur radio.
Day 1. Monda,y October 7: Transatlantic flight
Depart this morning towards Venice. Meals provided during the flight.
Day 2. Tuesday, October 8: Venice – Padua
Upon arrival in Venice, head north to Padua. There, visit the Abbey of St. Justina, a 4th century martyr; where, in addition to her remains are the ones of the Evangelist St. Luke and the Apostle St. Matthias. Then, render homage to St. Anthony of Padua, the “Wonder Worker,” at his Basilica. Transfer to your hotel for a welcome dinner and overnight in Padua. (WD)
Day 3. Wednesday, October 9: Padua: Excursion to Venice
Depart early for a full day excursion in Venice. Visit the magnificent Basilica of St. Mark, where the remains of St. Mark the Evangelist reside, and its Pala d’Oro and Treasury to admire the rich jewel-spangled altarpiece, situated behind the high altar and consisting of 250 enamel paintings on gold foil, enclosed in a gilded silver Gothic frame. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure, before returning to Padua for dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 4. Thursday, October 10: Padua – Florence
Travel to Florence. Upon arrival, visit the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in Italy, which houses in its crypt the relics of San Miniato (St. Minas), a 3rd century martyr who, after being beheaded, carried his own head to this spot. Continue to the red-domed and richly decorated Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore, the fourth largest church in Europe and one of the oldest buildings in Florence. Also admire the magnificent East Door of the Baptistry, known as the “Gate to Paradise.” Enjoy a walking tour from the Duomo to the Ponte Vecchio, built in 1345 and Florence’s oldest surviving bridge, it was the city’s only bridge to escape destruction during World War II. Transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 5. Friday, October 11: Florence
Today, visit the Convent and Museum of San Marco which was founded in the 13th century and contains the great works of Fra Angelico. Cells and cloisters show the simplicity of the life of the Dominican monks. Pay homage to the remains of St. Antonino, bishop and patron of Florence. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own. Overnight in Florence. (BB)
Day 6. Saturday, October 12: Florence – Assisi
Morning departure to Assisi. Upon arrival visit St. Mary of the Angels Basilica, including the Porziuncola Chapel, where St. Francis spent most of his life; the rose bush; and the cave where the saint retired for prayer. After lunch on your own, continue to the imposing 13th-century Basilica of St. Francis, where the great saint is buried; and the Church of St. Clare to venerate her relics. She was the foundress of the Order of Poor Clares and followed the teachings of St. Francis by living in poverty and humility. After leisure time, transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 7. Sunday, October 13: Assisi – Rome
Upon arrival to the Eternal City, have a panoramic view of Ancient Rome. After lunch on your own, enjoy a walking tour of downtown Rome. Begin with the famous Spanish Steps. Shaped like a crooked bow tie, and surrounded by muted, shuttered facades, Piazza di Spagna is the most well-known square in Rome. It was built in the 17th century to house the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See. Then, visit Sant’Andrea delle Fratte where St. Maximilian Kolbe celebrated his first Mass and Alphonse Ratisbonne’s conversion took place. Admire Rome’s largest and most famous fountain, the Trevi. Nearby visit the Church of St. Ignatius, housing the relics of St. Aloysius of Gonzaga, St. John Berchmans, and St. Robert Bellarmine. Continue to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with an immense amount of art treasures. The tomb of St. Catherine of Siena lies beneath the main altar. Across the street, visit the Pantheon, the best-preserved monument from ancient Rome, thanks to its transformation into a church in 609. It is said that the day the building was consecrated, 28 wagons of martyrs’ bones were transported here, taken from various city cemeteries. This event is the origin of All Saints’ Day (November 1), instituted by Gregory IV in the 9th century. Transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 8. Monday, October 14: Rome
Full day of sightseeing in Rome with visits to the catacombs, where the early Christians were buried, and to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, originally founded by Emperor Constantine to house the Apostle’s remains. After lunch on your own, visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major, which houses two of Christianity’s greatest treasures: the manger from Bethlehem in which the Baby Jesus was laid following His birth, and a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Salvation of the Roman people. The basilica was built on the site where a miraculous snowfall occurred in August of 356. Afterwards, visit St. John Lateran Basilica, the mother of all churches and the cathedral of the bishop of Rome, and the Scala Santa, containing the Holy Stairs that Jesus Christ ascended during His Passion in Pontius Pilate’s palace. Finally, visit the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, founded by Constantine in 320 to house the relics of Christ’s Passion, brought back from the Holy Land by his mother, St. Helena. Dinner and overnight in Rome. (BB, D)
Day 9. Tuesday, October 15: Rome
Begin your sightseeing in the Eternal City with a visit to the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica, constructed on the site of the hallowed tomb of the apostle, resplendent with mosaics, art treasures, and gold. Among the basilica’s most precious relics include a portion of the wood of the True Cross, and part of the lance that pierced Christ’s side. Touch the beloved statue of St. Peter and admire Michelangelo’s Pieta. Render homage to the many buried popes. At the Vatican Museums, see the famous collection of art and sculptures from centuries of Church history, including the Sistine Chapel. Rest of the day at leisure, dinner is on your own. (BB)
Day 10. Wednesday, October 16: Rome
This morning at the Vatican, attend the weekly Papal Audience. In the afternoon, continue to visit the Coliseum, Rome’s greatest amphitheater which staged the martyrdom of many early Christians. Visit the Church of St. Clement, named after St. Peter’s third successor, built on the house where the saint was born and offering a centuries-long collection of monuments that traverses most of the city’s history. Finally visit the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, housing a miraculous image of Our Lady and the miraculous statue of the Child Jesus of Aracoeli, as well as the tomb of the Empress St. Helen. Afterwards, transfer to your hotel for a farewell dinner and overnight. (BB, FD)
Day 11. Thursday, October 17: Homebound flight
Transfer to Rome’s airport for your flight back to the USA. (BB)
Buffet Breakfast (BB); Dinner (D); Welcome Dinner (WD); Farewell Dinner (FD)
* In case of unforeseen events, this itinerary is subject to change.
For more information, please contact Fr. Russ Mower at (214) 331-4328 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Fr. Mark Brantley at (620) 886-3596 or email@example.com, or contact Catholic Heritage Tours.