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Malta to Assisi

14 Days / 10 Nights Pilgrimage to Malta and Italy.

Malta (3): St Paul’s Island / Rabat / Mdina / Gozo / Rome (3): Vatican Museums / Sistine Chapel / St Peter's Basilica / St John in Lateran / St Paul Outside the Walls / Montecassino / Pietrelcina / San Giovanni Rotondo (2) / Monte Sant'Angelo / Lanciano / Loreto / Assisi (2)

Journey in the steps of St Paul through Malta and Rome. From the Eternal City, we set out along a sacred path through towns and colourful villages, rich in their inspired stories of Saints and miracles. Culminate high in the medieval hillside town of Assisi as we step back in time to absorb a tangible spirit of St Francis and St Clare.
 

Malta to Assisi Pilgrimage

 
MEAL CODE: B: Breakfast   L: Lunch   D: Dinner     Download Itinerary
ITINERARY
DAY 1: THURSDAY 2018 - DEPART FOR EUROPE
DAY 2: FRIDAY - ARRIVE MALTA

Upon arrival at Malta International Airport we will be met and transferred to our hotel for check-in. Christianity has existed almost 2,000 years in Malta, brought to the island by no less than the Apostle Paul himself in 60 AD.

Malta overnight (D)

DAY 3: SATURDAY – ST PAUL’S ISLAND – RABAT – MDINA

Today we proceed to St Paul’s Bay where a short boat trip takes us to the island where the Apostle was shipwrecked. After some time here we return to the mainland where we view St Paul’s Bonfire Church.

En route to Rabat visit the miraculous Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Mosta where during World War II a 500 kilogram bomb penetrated the dome and hit the inside of the church. Continue to Rabat to enter St Paul’s Grotto where St Paul lived during his short stay in Malta. We celebrate Mass here and visit the catacombs dedicated to him.

After a short walk into Mdina, visit St Paul’s Cathedral which will be another highlight of our day’s trip.

Malta overnight (BD)

DAY 4: SUNDAY - GOZO DAY TRIP

Travel by ferry to the sister island of Gozo. Visit the Church of St John La Rotunda, and walk up the steps to the Gozo Citadel which is a medieval city and the capital of Gozo.

Visit St George’s Basilica, then on to the miraculous Ta'Pinu Shrine for Mass.

Malta overnight (BD)

DAY 5: MONDAY – VALLETTA & DEPART FOR ROME

Today we visit Valletta. After a drive around the city to admire its bastions, we enter the city by foot and see the Auberges built by the Knights and St John. We enter St John’s Co-Cathedral, and view the impressive and miraculous Crucifix at Ta’Giezu Church. Continue to the St Paul Shipwreck Church where we will view two relics of St Paul.

We will then be transferred to the airport for our flight connections to Italy. On arrival at Rome airport we will be met and transferred to our centrally located accommodation for the remainder of the day at leisure.

Rome overnight (BD)

DAY 6: TUESDAY - ROME

Commence our time in Rome with a spectacular Mass at St Peter’s Basilica before coming to the nearby Vatican Museums. Wander the spectacular chambers leading to the Sistine Chapel to view Michelangelo’s masterpieces, including the magnificent fresco of the Last Judgment. Continue through to the awe inspiring St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world for an informative exploration. Our guided tour will feature among other highlights Michelangelo’s stunning Pieta, the tomb of Pope St John Paul II, the great Confessional and the Crypt containing the tombs of several Popes.

In the afternoon, visit the impressive St Mary Major Basilica. Onwards to the Basilica of St John in Lateran (First Papal residence) and the adjacent Holy Stairs brought from Jerusalem to Rome in 326AD by St Helena (as a favourite of pilgrims, these steps may only be ascended on the knees).

Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme with its extraordinary collection of relics from the Holy Land.

Rome overnight (BD)

DAY 7: WEDNESDAY - ROME

PAPAL EVENT: We will return to St Peter’s Square this morning for a memorable Papal Audience with Pope Francis as we join with pilgrims from around the world. (Subject to the Pope’s presence in Rome)

Journey this afternoon out to the majestic Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. Originally consecrated in 324, the saint’s tomb is visible now under the Papal Altar. We will celebrate a wonderful Mass here as a special tribute to the Church’s greatest evangelist.

Continue then to the ancient Catacombs for a memorable guided tour to marvel at these underground burial tunnels for Christians and Hebrews.

This evening we will celebrate our final night in Rome at L’Eau Vive French Restaurant run by missionary nuns who actually sing the Ave Maria to us between courses!

Rome overnight (BD)

DAY 8: THURSDAY - VIA MONTECASSINO & PIETRELCINA TO SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO

Today we farewell the Eternal City as we commence our day’s journey towards the great shrine dedicated to Padre Pio.

Heading south we firstly wind our way up to the spectacular mountaintop Abbey of Montecassino, founded in 529 by St Benedict, patron saint of Europe and the founder of Western Monasticism. The Abbey was carefully rebuilt after the epic battle of 1944 and still dominates the surrounding countryside from its mountaintop setting. We will have a guided visit on arrival. The Basilica is richly decorated with mosaics. We come as pilgrims to pray before the relics of St Benedict and his sister, St Scholastica. The museum displays examples of medieval monastic art and there may be the opportunity to spend some time here (at own expense).

Departing Montecassino we journey east to Pietrelcina, where St Padre Pio was born on 25 May, 1887. Visit here the room of his birth, the friary and the Church of Our Lady of the Angels.

Continue on to San Giovanni Rotondo where St Padre Pio spent a lifetime of prayer, penance, self-denial and intense pain caused by the five wounds of Our Lord’s passion. His list of supernatural gifts are overwhelming - reading of souls, prophecy, miraculous healings, spiritual direction, etc while spending extraordinarily long hours in the confessional and often sleeping very little. Throughout his life he received visits from Jesus and Mary and had regular communication with his guardian angel.

San Giovanni Rotondo overnight (BD)

DAY 9: FRIDAY - SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO & MONTE SANT’ANGELO

This morning we take a tour of the shrine including: Tomb and cell of St Padre Pio; his Confessional; and the Crucifix from which he received the stigmata. We visit the English speaking office for an inspirational talk by one of the friars and to view a special rare film showing highlights of St Padre Pio’s daily life in the Monastery.

Travel by coach in the afternoon to Monte Sant’ Angelo to visit the hilltop Sanctuary of St Michael the Archangel and celebrate Mass in the Grotto Cave. The Archangel is said to have made four separate appearances here mostly during the 5th century, making the sanctuary here one of the earliest Christian sites in Europe and visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. St Francis also visited the sanctuary but feeling unworthy to enter the grotto, stopped in prayer at the entrance, kissed a stone and carved on it the sign of the Tau cross.

San Giovanni Rotondo overnight (BD)

DAY 10: SATURDAY - VIA LANCIANO & LORETO TO ASSISI

After breakfast we depart San Giovanni Rotondo and journey north to Lanciano, scene of the Eucharistic miracle in the 8th century where, during Mass and moments after consecration, the Basilian monk (who doubted the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist) found himself holding a host that had changed to flesh and the wine to blood. To this day the sacred relics have remained incorrupt while recent scientific examinations have confirmed that the “flesh is real flesh, the blood is real blood”. Here we will celebrate a special Mass.

Continue our journey north to the great Marian shrine of Loreto to visit the Holy House of Nazareth and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto. More than 50 Popes have made a pilgrimage to the house transported by angels to a hill in central Italy in 1294. Tradition has it that this is the house where Mary received the Annunciation, where Jesus grew to manhood and the Holy Family dwelled. A tour of the shrine will be included.

Drive through scenic Umbrian countryside to the pilgrimage centre of Assisi, where St Francis tended the poor and sick and founded the Franciscan Order. On arrival in this medieval hillside town we will visit the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels down on the plains where St Francis spent most of his life. Here we will see the Portiuncula (meaning ‘small portion of land’) where St. Francis returned for prayer, the thornless rose bush, and the chapel where he died in 1226. On Palm Sunday 1211, Francis received in this church Clare of Assisi and dedicated her to the Lord.

Onwards to the Upper Town to check in to our hotel.

Assisi overnight (BD)

DAY 11: SUNDAY - ASSISI

This morning we awake to the sound of chapel bells, cobblestone footsteps and the tangible spirit of St Francis preserved in this holy town.

After breakfast we enjoy a guided tour through some of the town’s highlights including: the tranquil Church of San Damiano and the actual chapel where it all began when the voice of Christ spoke to Francis in the year 1205. Here too we find the first monastery of the Order of St Clare where Clare built her community in close friendship with Francis.

Culminate up at the Hermitage (Eremo delle Carceri), an oasis of peace and tranquillity in the woods built on the site of a simple cave where St Francis often withdrew to spend many hours in prayer. The cave and the Chapel of Our Lady are preserved in the Hermitage.

We end our tour at the Basilica of St Clare where we will proceed to the side chapel to pray before the Holy Crucifix from which God spoke to Francis “Go and repair my Church which as you see is in ruins”. Here too we can also take the stairway down to the crypt where the body of Clare, partially restored, is displayed.

Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure in this oasis of peace.

An opportunity presents itself before dinner to attend Vespers in the Basilica of St Clare and listen to the angelic voices of the Poor Clare nuns.

Assisi overnight (BD)

DAY 12: MONDAY – DEPART ITALY

We conclude our time in Assisi with Mass and a guided exploration of the buzzing Basilica of St Francis which occupies the entire western end of the upper town. Construction began in 1228, just two years after the death of Francis and was finally completed in 1250. The Upper Basilica houses the famous fresco cycle of the life of St Francis, historically attributed to Giotto. Wander through the marvels of the Upper Basilica before our tour descends to the crypt of the Lower Basilica where Francis was laid in 1230 and where we will take some time to seek the intercession of this spiritual legend.

We will then farewell Assisi as we return to Rome airport for our homebound flight connections. (B)

DAY 13: TUESDAY – IN TRANSIT
DAY 14: WEDNESDAY – ARRIVE AUSTRALIA

 
2018 DATES AND PRICES
 
AIR & TOUR PACKAGE COST
Code Depart Australia AUD
8SI01A 31 May 2018 $6790
8SI02A 27 September 2018 $6590
8SI03A 30 May 2019 Price on Application
9SI01A 26 September 2019 Price on Application
Single Room Supplement: AUD $1090
 
CHAPLAIN OPTIONAL EXTENSIONS
Name Pre Option Post Option
TBA Lands of St Paul Saints of Italy
TBA Lands of St Paul Saints of Italy
TBA Lands of St Paul Saints of Italy
TBA Lands of St Paul Saints of Italy
     
NB. An additional mandatory prepaid tipping fund of $15 per day per person will be invoiced in advance by Harvest to avoid regular inconvenience to pilgrims on tour.
 
 
Full package based on departure from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth including all airline taxes and levies (subject to change). Tour Only costs include local internal airfares between Start/End dates. Refer to our full price inclusions and Booking Procedures for more information.
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