Catholic Tour of Rome and the Italian Country
From Palermo to Rome, Christianity has left a trail of miracles and you can visit shrines honoring them. Starting in Sicily and travelling up the countryside to Rome, this sample Catholic pilgrimage tour shows the history of saints in Italy from centuries past to modern times.
Day 1: Flight to Palermo, Sicily
Today, travel to Palermo, Sicily. Meals will be served by the airline.
Day 2: Palermo
Upon arrival in Palermo from Rome, you will be welcomed by Tour Escort and embark on your first visits, starting with the Sanctuary of St. Rosalia, who consecrated her life to Jesus and lived as a hermit in a cave on Monte Pellegrino till her death on September 4, 1166. Then, Monreale Cathedral, one of the architectural wonders of the Medieval world. The richness of the interior mosaics, which cover the entire cathedral, can be gleaned from the fact that they contain almost 5,000 lbs of pure gold! Afterwards, transfer to your hotel in Palermo for a welcome drink and dinner to meet your fellow passengers. (WD)
Day 3: Palermo
This morning, explore Palermo’s main sites, including the Capella Palatine, with its astonishing interior completely covered in glittering 12th-century mosaics, depicting a variety of saints and biblical scenes. Palermo’s Cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, where the relics of St. Rosalia are kept in a silver coffer on the altar. The rest of the day is at leisure, with independent dinner. (BB)
Day 4: Palermo – Cefalu – Catania
Depart this morning towards Cefalu, where you can visit its cathedral, dating from 1311, built by the King of Sicily, Roger II, after his miraculous escape from a sea storm. Nearby, explore the Santuario di Gibilmanna, a shrine to the Virgin Mary and the most popular pilgrimage site in Sicily. There, the Madonna restored sight to blind pilgrims and speech to mutes in the 18th Century. Visit Catania’s catedral which stands on the spot where St. Aghata died a martyr’s death in 251, the Badia di Sant’Agata, which houses the remains of the saint, and her prison. (BB, D)
Day 5 Catania – Syracuse – Taormina
This morning travel to Syracuse to see the Duomo, built in 1728-53, which contains stunning treasures, mosaics and many fine paintings and sculptures. Visit the Paleo-Christian Church of St. John, which is the site where St. Paul the Apostle preached. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tears displays a small plaster plaque of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which miraculously shed tears for 4 days in 1953. Stop at the Church of St. Lucia, where she was martyred in 303 AD, under which are also located the catacombs named after her. Then, travel to Taormina for a short sightseeing of the city before dinner. (BB, D)
Day 6: Taormina – Paola
Depart Taormina to travel to Paola, the home of St. Francis of Paola which houses a Catholic sanctuary in his name. In the final days of World War II, while almost all the citizens of the city were hiding from the air raids by Allied bombers inside the Monastery of St. Francis of Paola, an iron-core 80 kg bomb fell right in the middle of the agglomeration, but, miraculously, did not detonate. (BB, D)
Day 7: Paola – Pagani – Pompeii – Castellammare
Travel towards the stunning Amalfi Coast. First stop is at Pagani to visit the church that houses the body of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, who dedicated his life as a priest, then bishop, to the glory of God. He is probably best known for his numerous timeless spiritual writings. Continue to Pompeii to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary, founded by Blessed Bartolo Longo, which houses a miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary, enshrined above the altar. Finally, travel the short distance to Castellammare for dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 8: Castelammare: Excursion to Salerno, Amalfi, and Sorrento
Today’s visits near Castellammare include Salerno’s Cathedral, which houses the relics of St. Matthew the Evangelist; The Chapel of the Crusades, where crusader’s weapons were blessed, and also where Pope Gregory VII is buried, having lived in exile in Salerno until his death in 1085; in the central apse is the tomb of the Holy Martyrs of Salerno, whose history is frescoed in the vault. Continue on to Amalfi, whose cathedral contains St. Andrew’s remains. A dense liquid called “Manna” appears on his tomb regularly. Enjoy some free time in Sorrento before returning to Castellamare. (BB, D)
Day 9: Castellammare – Naples – Mugnano – Montecassino – Rome
Head toward Rome today with several stops on the way, including: Naples, where you will visit Santa Maria del Carmine, which shelters a miraculous icon of Our Lady and a miraculous crucifix, whose Christ lowered His head to avoid a cannonball headed toward him. Naple’s Duomo houses the blood of St. Januarius, which turns into liquid every year on his feastday, September 19th, since 305AD. Here also you can venerate Saint Charles Borromeo, the great figure of the Counter-Reformation, who is buried here. Finish Naples’ visits with the Church of San Paolo Maggiore, the burial place of St. Cajetan, founder of the Order of Clerics Regular, and of St. Andrew Avellino, who is especially invoked against a sudden death. In Mugnano, visit the Sanctuary of St. Philomena, a young Greek princess martyred in the 4th century. The last stop is at Montecassino, the famous Benedictine abbey, home of the sacred relics of St. Benedict, founder of western monasticism, and his twin sister, Saint Scholastica. The last leg of today’s trip takes you to Rome, the Eternal City, for dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 10: Rome
Start the day early to visit the main basilicas and churches in Rome: St. Peter’s Basilica, whose most precious relics include a portion of the wood of the True Cross, part of the lance that pierced Christ’s side, and the incorrupt body of St. Pius X. S. Mary Major, which houses the manger from Bethlehem. S. Maria in Aracoeli, where a miraculous portrait of Our Lady and one of St. Anthony as well as the statue of the Santo Bambino, and the tomb of the Empress St. Helena are kept. S. Cecilia’s Church, where the young maiden was martyred. S. Maria in Trastevere, one of the most important churches in Rome and the first place of worship dedicated to the Madonna, where is housed a portion of the Holy Sponge, which was dipped in vinegar and offered to Christ Crucified. This evening, enjoy dinner at your leisure before returning to the hotel for the night. (BB)
Day 11: Rome
Morning at leisure, then, at noon, attend the Papal benediction, followed by visits to: St. Philip Neri, where his body is kept under the altar. The Pantheon, the best preserved monument from ancient Rome, transformed into the Church of S. Maria ad Martyres in 609. S. Maria Sopra Minerva, where the relics of St. Catherine of Siena, the Dominican philosopher, theologian and Doctor of the Church, can be venerated. Il Jesu, head church of the Jesuits, in which can be seen the relics of St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, and St. Francis Xavier, missionary of Asia. S. Maria in Trivio, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, where the founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, St. Gaspare del Bufalo, is buried. San Andrea delle Frate, where St. Maximilian Kolbe celebrated his first Mass and Alphonse Ratisbonne’s conversion took place. Finish the day visiting the Spanish Steps, the most famous square in Rome, and Mater Admirabili, built in gratitude to St. Francis de Paola for his monks, the Minims, and where can be seen a miraculous painting of Our Lady. (BB, D)
Day 12: Rome
Today you have the choice of an independent day for you to explore or shop on your own, or an optional tour with visits to: The Catacombs of St. Callixtus, one of the most important and largest catacombs. St. Paul Outside the Walls, where he is buried, and where numerous relics are displayed. St. John Lateran, the Pope’s Cathedral, and the Holy Stairs, which Our Lord ascended during His Passion. The Holy Cross of Jerusalem Cathedral, founded by Constantine to house unique and important relics of the Passion and Death of Our Lord. St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, where the relics of St. Agnes and St. Emerentiana, sisters and martyrs, are kept. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner with toast to celebrate the success of your pilgrimage. (BB, FD)
Day 13: Return to the US
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the US. (BB)
* (BB) Buffet Breakfast * (D) Dinner * (WD) Welcome Dinner * (FD) Farewell Dinner
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