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