For the information regarding our April 2016 Family Pilgrimage, read below.
Please call 202-536-4555 or email [email protected]InsideTheVatican.com to have us hold a place for you. We expect a quick sellout!
2 paying adults from the same household must accompany the children in order to be eligible for the reduced children rates:
Children under 1 year of age from the same household with 2 paying adults are free. Please note – bed and meals will not be provided for children less than 1 year of age. If meals and a bed are needed, then provisions can be made for a fee.
* Limited number of places available
Thursday, April 21— Leave from the U.S. You will have packed lightly, but taken all you need for this unique pilgrimage. Safe flight!
Rome and Vatican City
Jubilee Year of Mercy
With a population of 2.7 million, Rome is one of the most populated cities in Europe, and one of the oldest. As we stroll over the time-worn cobblestones, the many layers of Roman history will begin to unfold. From the sculpture and architecture of the Ancients to the vestiges left from the early Church, through the Medieval and Renaissance periods with the masterpieces of artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini, Rome is truly a treasure-trove of art, culture and history.
Contained in the heart of the city of Rome is the sovereign city-state Vatican City, whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome. The Vatican has an area of approximately 110 acres, a population of around 840, and is the smallest country in the world.
This is a unique time in the Vatican as Pope Francis continues to define his pontificate, and Emeritus Pope Benedict continues to reside in Vatican City in a small convent inside the Vatican gardens, not far from the Domus Santa Marta, the residence of Pope Francis. The Vatican will be alive with pilgrims from around the world who have journeyed to Rome during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. It is a privileged time to be part of the living Body of Christ – the living stones of the Church, during these days of the “two Popes,” Benedict and Francis, both so very different and yet each so filled with the love of Christ and of His Church and to be in Rome during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Friday, April 22 — Welcome to Italy! You arrive at Fiumicino airport, about 10 miles outside of Rome to the west, near the Mediterranean Sea. You may have seen the sea as your plane circled to land. A group transfer will meet you at the airport immediately as you exit the secured area which is after customs and you gather your luggage. Your transfer will bring you to the majestic Villa Serenella, our Roman home for the next eight nights.
Villa Serenella is a stately, typical Roman villa turned monastery surrounded by 13 acres of olive groves, pine trees, walking paths, a soccer field, and fountains. Just five miles from the Vatican, the Villa is owned by the Antonine order of Maronites monks. Yes, we will be staying with Monks from Lebanon!
Once we settle in, there will be time for lunch and rest before we depart for the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square.
In Saint Peter’s Square, you will be introduced to Dr. Robert Moynihan and Deborah Tomlinson. Dr. Moynihan, one of the worlds leading Vatican Analysts and Founder and Editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, will lead us on a “familiarization” walk to St. Peter’s Square, in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, which was built above the tomb of St. Peter, the first Pope and the apostle to whom Christ entrusted “the keys of the kingdom.”
After our walk, we will stroll, only 2 short blocks, to the Basilica of Santo Spirito ¬¬–– the sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Rome established by St. John Paul II on January 1, 1994 (photo right). Since the beatification of Sister Faustina in 1993, the church has been served by the sisters from the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy, St. Faustina’s order. Our welcome Mass and confessions will be at this basilica, Santo Sprito.
We will return to the monastery for a welcome dinner with Dr. Moynihan. Our first day will end early so we can all be rested for the journey to come…
From the BULL OF INDICTION of the EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE of MERCY
…The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination.… — Pope Francis March 13, 2015
Saturday, April 23 — Rome. Today will begin the Jubilee Celebration for the Youth. After breakfast in the Villa Serenella, the group will depart for Vatican City. Thousands of pilgrims will be gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the joyous celebration. We will join these bothers and sisters and together pass through the Jubilee door to St. Peter’s Basilica where we will make a profession of faith at the tomb of St. Peter. As you look out into the crowds, you will experience in a very special way the universality of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Pope Francis opening the Jubilee Door in St. Peter’s Basilica
We will depart St. Peter’s for lunch near the Vatican. There will be free time before we gather again for dinner and our evening festivities.
In celebration of the Jubilee for the Youth, participating pilgrims will depart St. Peter’s Square for a Youth Rally at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, a short 2 mile pilgrimage walk. After the Rally, the group will return to the monastery. For pilgrims who prefer not to participate, this will be free time.
Sunday, April 24 — Rome. We will have breakfast at the Villa Serenella before departing for Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, with Pope Francis. After Mass we will gather in St. Peter’s square to hear Pope Francis’ Angelus message and to pray the Angelus together, along with many pilgrims from around the world.
Weather permitting, we will spend our afternoon together in the park for a picnic lunch, where we will again be joined by Dr. Moynihan, Deborah Tomlinson, and friends of Inside the Vatican magazine. Sunday in the park is part of the Roman culture. Many families gather together to spend time together to eat, laugh and play soccer. We will have an authentic Roman experience as we picnic in the park together and play some soccer! After lunch, there will be free time to shop and explore. We will gather in the evening to depart for dinner at the monastery.
Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano
Lanciano, which translates into “the lance,” is named after the lance of Longinus, the Roman soldier, who thrust his spear into Our Lord’s side. Lanciano bears this name
because it is the birthplace of St. Longinus. Around the year 700, a monk offered mass in Lanciano’s small church of St. Legontian. The monk, who had doubts about transubstantiation, wondered if the bread and wine really became the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. At the words of Consecration, the doubting priest witnessed the bread transform into living flesh and the wine transform into five actual drops of blood, which then congealed. The five drops, of course, represent the number of wounds Christ suffered on the cross: one in each hand and foot from the nails, and the wound from the spear of Longinus!
Monday, April 25 — Lanciano/Manoppello. Today we will travel to two shrines, which house some of the most important miracles in Italy – the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano and the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello.
We will be up early to travel about 2 ½ hours, across Italy to the Adriatic Sea, to the town of Lanciano in the rugged Abbruzzo region. Once we arrive in Lanciano, we will enter the church that houses the Eucharistic Miracle (photo above) to behold the wonders of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ made visible.
After venerating the miraculous eucharist, we will listen to the Franciscan Friars to learn more about the Eucharistic miracle.
Father Cucinelli, Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face
We then will turn back towards Rome, heading to the little town of Manoppello, Italy (population 157 — yes, it’s tiny!) still in the Abbruzzo region. Our drive is short — only 40 minutes, and we will stop along the way to enjoy a snack or light lunch in an Italian Autogrill. This will be the first of two meals on your own. In Manoppello, we will visit the Shrine of the Holy Face — the shrine which contains a mysterious cloth (photo left) bearing the image of a man with wounds on his face, an image some believe is the actual face of Christ, formed at the moment of his Resurrection — and celebrate Mass. Pope Emeritus Benedict visited this Shrine in 2006 to venerate the Holy Face of Manoppello.
Following our visit, we will depart for dinner at a delicious local restaurant that cooks with the fresh ingredients from the region. A real Italian experience! After a day of veneration then good food, we will return to the monastery for another night’s rest.
Tuesday, April 26 — Rome. We will be up early to be at the door of the Vatican museums before 8 a.m., and there will likely be a crowd of thousands already lined up to get in. There, we will view many special treasures before enjoying a cappuccino at the outdoor café over–looking the Vatican Gardens. Our morning will finish with a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica.
A corridor in the Vatican Museum
Lunch will be at one of our favorite restaurants near the Vatican, followed by free time to explore and shop for religious articles for the papal blessing on Wednesday. Dinner will be held back at the Villa Serenella, where Dr. Moynihan, Deborah Tomlinson, and friends of Inside the Vatican will again join us.
Wednesday, April 27 — Rome. After breakfast in the monastery, we will depart again for Vatican City and the Papal Audience. During the audience, Pope Francis will share a brief teaching and reading in Italian, but it will be translated into English, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, and sometimes other languages, depending on the groups visiting. The Pope will follow with a greeting to all gathered in St. Peter’s Piazza. At the end of the Audience, the Pope will lead us in the “Our Father” in Latin. This prayer will be printed on the back of the Papal Audience ticket. After the “Our Father,” Pope Francis will impart his Apostolic Blessing upon the crowd, which also extends to our loved ones at home. He will bless any item that you may have purchased along our journey together. Afterwards we will have lunch near the Vatican, followed by a free afternoon.
In the late afternoon/early evening, we will journey to the Spanish Steps, where we will again meet with Dr. Moynihan who will guide us along our walking tour of Baroque Rome – the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Piazza Navona (photo above). Along the way, Dr. Moynihan will point out many interesting places, peeling away the layers of Roman and Church history.
We will also visit the Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte. The Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte has a very special side chapel. In fact, it is so special that many come to Rome just to pray at this side altar. Our Lady appeared there to Alphonse Ratisbonne, an avowed anti-Catholic Jew, in 1842, manifesting herself exactly as she appears on the Miraculous Medal, effecting his miraculous conversion.
The first Miraculous Medals were struck in 1832, and while the Miraculous Medal devotion was already circulating throughout France after St. Catherine Labouré’s Marian apparition, it was this miraculous apparition to Ratisbonne which provided the impetus to bring the Miraculous Medal devotion to Italy.
Many pilgrims from all over the world travel to Rome just to visit this shrine in devotion to the Miraculous Medal. This special side chapel is also where St. Maximillian Kolbe offered his first Mass (April 29, 1918).
On the walk back to the Vatican area, we will stop at another one of our favorite restaurants in Rome for dinner, then enjoy a gelato from one of the best Gelaterias in Rome before returning to the monastery.
Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy
Thursday, April 28 — Assisi and Rome. After an early breakfast, we will travel to the rustic town of Assisi, home of St. Francis and St. Clare. Along our way we will stop for you to experience your second Italian Autogrill where you can purchase a café or light meal.
While in Assisi, we will visit many important places. In St. Francis Basilica, we will pray at his tomb, and tour the basilica. At the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, in the valley at the bottom of the hill, we will visit the Portiuncula. The Portiuncula (photo right) is an ancient church dedicated to Mary under the title Our Lady of the Angels. This was the church St. Francis rebuilt after being called by Christ crucified to “rebuild His Church.”
The original church is believed to have been erected under Pope Liberius, by hermits from the Valley of Josaphat, who had brought relics from the grave of the Blessed Virgin. It was known as Our Lady of the Angels because of the singing of angels, which had been frequently heard there.
We will walk through the historic streets of Assisi, viewing many of the hidden gems along our stroll; we will enter several important churches along the way, such as the Basilica of St. Clare and come to a better understanding of the time of St. Francis. Our day will finish with an early dinner in one of our favorite restaurants in the Piazza del Comune, the main piazza in the city center and one of the most beautiful piazzas in Italy, before we return to Rome.
Friday, April 29 — Rome. After breakfast at the monastery, we will depart to visit the three other patriarchal basilicas in Rome; St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran and St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls. St. Peter’s Basilica is the 4th patriarchal basilica. Each of these churches is a glorious monument to the Faith and contains treasures of art and faith that can take one’s breath away.
In St. Mary Major, for example, there is a painting of Mary (photo left), which is believed to have been painted by St. Luke himself, making it the oldest painting of Mary in the world. It is called the Salus Populi Romani (English: the Protectress of the Roman People) — Protectress is a translation of the Latin “salus” which means “salvation” or “health.” It has historically been the most important Marian icon in Rome, and was crowned by Pope Pius XII in 1954. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI venerated the Salus Populi Romani on different occasions, and asked Mary on each occasion to “pray for us.”
One of Pope Francis’ first acts after his election was to pray before the Salus Populi Romani. In May of 2013, the month dedicated to Our Lady and the Holy Rosary, Pope Francis also prayed his first public Rosary before this ancient and venerable image. He has also visited it many times since then.
St. John Lateran (photo right) is the oldest and ranks first among the four Papal basilicas of Rome, since it is the cathedra or “seat” of the Bishop of Rome. For centuries, the Popes lived here. The façade has the inscription Christo Salvatori, “To Christ the Savior,” indicating the church’s dedication to Christ—the cathedrals of all patriarchs are dedicated to Christ Himself. As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, it ranks above all other churches, including St. Peter’s, and so, unlike all other Roman basilicas, it holds the title of archbasilica.
St. Paul’s Outside the Walls (photo left) is dedicated to St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, who was beheaded in Rome, and contains his tomb. This impressive church contains the images of all the Popes in little circular portraits.
Along with these visits, we will make a driving tour to view the wonders of ancient Rome, including a few surprises.
We will stop for lunch along the way. There may be free time to shop and explore afterwards before returning to the monastery for dinner.
Our farewell dinner, hosted by Dr. Robert Moynihan and Deborah Tomlinson, will be a celebratory feast, and special friends and guests of Inside the Vatican magazine will be joining us, bidding a fond farewell to new friends.
Saturday, April 30 – Farewell. After an early morning Mass, breakfast and last goodbyes, transfers will be scheduled to the airport for your return home. Farewell to all our fellow pilgrims, our friends, until we meet again…
Not mentioned in this sketch of our itinerary are three important points…
1) We prefer to schedule Mass in the morning, but there is a possibility that Mass times can fluctuate due to circumstances and Vatican events. Each day we will have the opportunity to attend Mass. The Mass schedule will be finalized closer to the time of our departure.
2) During the Jubilee for the Youth, pilgrims will be able to hear witnesses describing their deep experiences of the Works of Mercy in seven piazzas in the middle of Rome. We will try to attend these experiences as well.
3) Plenty of free time has been built into our schedule to allow families to rest or explore Rome at their leisure.
We will make every effort to adhere to the printed program and itinerary. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to adjust arrangements due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control (including such circumstances as the weather, airline schedule changes, hotel requisitions, political disturbances, or transportation mechanical problems). Should such adjustment be necessary, a substitution will be made to the best of our abilities.
Join Inside the Vatican for this once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage!
For more information or to reserve your spot, contact our US Office at 1-202-536-4555 or email us at [email protected]