Advent Pilgrimage to Italy

FULLY BOOKED • Led by Fr Kapena OMI

1 – 11 December 2019

Join this special Advent Pilgrimage to Italy with Rome, Assisi, San Giovanni Rotondo, Loreto, Lanciano, Cassino and more. With Vatican Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with Pope Francis!


Sunday, December 1
We depart from for our Advent pilgrimage to Italy: you can choose to depart from Johannesburg or Windhoek!

Monday, December 2
After arrival in Rome, we begin our pilgrimage at a very special place which few pilgrims visit: the beautiful Rieti Valley in the Lazio region, where St Francis and companions moved to after they left Assisi. Here we visit the Santuario Francescano del Presepio in Greccio, where St Francis invented the Nativity Scene. We can see the Dormitory with the cells of Saints Francis and Bonaventure, and the chapels in which Franciscans have had Mass over the course of almost 800 years. At Greccio we will invite you for a very special lunch.

In Fonte Colombo with the San Michele Church, St Francis wrote the Rule for his order. We can see the rock he used as a bed and go through the cave in which he wrote the Franciscan Rule. We can also see tiny Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, which is almost unchanged since St Francis used it. We then proceed to Rome. Overnight: Assisi

St Francis Basilica in Assisi.

Tuesday, December 3
Today we explore Assisi, the town of St Francis and his companion St Clare. The 13th-century Basilica of St Francis contains the tomb of Francis and Giotto’s beautiful frescoes of his life. St Clare Basilica, also from the 13th century, houses the relics of St Clare, original robes that belonged to her, as well as the miraculous crucifix that spoke to Francis.

At the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (St Mary of the Angels), just outside Assisi, is the place where St Francis’ ministry really began and where he died. In the Rose Chapel St Francis met with St Anthony of Padua. Inside the grand Baroque basilica is the Porziuncola, the tiny church in the meadows which St Francis was called to renovate. Overnight: Assisi

Wednesday, December 4
In the morning we proceed to Loreto to visit the Sanctuary of the Holy House. An ancient tradition tells that this is the same House where Our Lady Mary was born, grew up and received the angelic announcement of the Incarnation. We then visit Lanciano in the Abruzzo region, site of the first Eucharistic Miracle recognized by the Catholic Church, dating to the eighth century. We have Mass in the Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle. Then, we continue to San Giovanni Rotondo, the town of Padre Pio. Overnight: San Giovanni Rotondo

San Giovanni Rotondo, the Shrine of Padre Pio

Thursday, December 5
Today we explore the Shrine of Padre Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo, which centres on his tomb inside the Church of Our Lady of Grace (Santa Maria delle Grazie). We see his cell, his confessional, the crucifix from which he received the stigmata, the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church, and the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) on the forested hillside above Santa Maria delle Grazie. Overnight: San Giovanni Rotondo

Friday, December 6
After a breakfast we drive to Cassino to visit the famous Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, the hilltop where in 529 AD St Benedict established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order and therefore all of Western monasticism. The sanctuary was bombed by US forces in World War II but has been lovingly restored to its former glory. A Benedictine monk will guide us here. We then proceed to Rome. Overnight: Rome

Saturday, December 7
Today is our Vatican day! We are guided through St Peter’s Basilica with its many religious and artistic treasures, including the tombs of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II. In the afternoon, we attend the annual Inauguration of the Crib and Lighting of the Christmas Tree in St. Peter’s Square with the Pope’s Blessing. Overnight: Rome

Michelangelo’s Pieta in St Peter’s Basilica.

Sunday, December 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)
Today we will see the Pope — maybe even TWICE! In the morning we have a panoramic tour with a photo stop at the Colosseum. We then return to St Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus at midday. After lunch we discover the Rome of the Renaissance with places like the Trevi Fountain and Navona Square, as well as the Pantheon. We then go to Piazza di Spagna, with the famous Spanish Steps, for the Pope’s annual act of veneration of the image of Mary Immaculate. Overnight: Rome

Monday, December 9
On our final day in Rome we visit the Basilica of St John Lateran, the pope’s cathedral as Bishop of Rome where we can see the chapel that holds what is said to be the table of the Last Supper, and stop at the nearby Holy Stairs. We visit St Mary Major Basilica, one of the oldest churches in the world, having originally been built in the fifth century, and the Church of St Alphonsus Liguori, mother-church of the Redemptorist Order with the original icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. We have the afternoon at leisure, maybe to do some Christmas shopping.

Tuesday, December 10
Today we go along the ancient Appian Way to the Catacombs, the underground cemeteries used by the early Christians of Rome. We then proceed to the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, with the tomb of the Apostle Paul and the images of every pope in history. We then make our way to the airport for our overnight flight back home.

Wednesday, December 11
We arrive back home, spiritually enriched by our holy journey which will have prepared us well for the Coming of the Lord at Christmas.

Masses will be reserved at holy shrines throughout the pilgrimage.


Est. Price: 35 937 (sharing, ex-Jhb; subject to currency, airport tax fluctuations, calculated on 28 passengers and R16,48 to the Euro)

Includes: All flights ex-Johannesburg (incl. airport taxes), accommodation in 4-star hotels or better (sharing) with breakfast and dinner, hotel taxes, transfers, travel insurance, travelling on air-conditioned luxury buses, English-speaking tour guides, entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary.

Excludes: Tips (these are set and mandatory), visas, porterage, personal expenses, travel to and from O.R. Tambo Airport/Jhb.

A deposit of R4,500 secures your place on this unforgettable pilgrimage. For account details and booking form, please download the illustrated itinerary.

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