"Malta's capital city Valletta will be the European Capital of Culture 2018"
Malta & The Shrines of Italy14 days
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare
from your desired Airport
- All airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- Hotel accommodations (or similar) in double occupancy
- ~ 4 nights: Le Meridien, Malta
- ~ 2 nights: Centro di Spiritualita St. Padre Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo
- ~ 3 nights: Hotel Giotto,
- Breakfast and Dinner daily
- Wine with dinners
- Assistance of a professional local Catholic guide(s)
- Whisper Headsets
- Transfers as per itinerary
- Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach
- Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary
- Catholic Priest available for Spiritual Direction
- Mass daily & Spiritual activities
- Luggage handling (1 piece per person)
- Lunches, Tips to your guide & driver.
Day 1: Departure
Make your way to your local airport, where you will board your overnight flight(s)
Day 2: Arrive Malta
Upon arrival, collect your luggage from baggage claims and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where you'll be met by a tour guide and/or driver and transferred to your hotel. Later, your guide will tell you about St. Paul and Christianity in the Maltese Islands. You will attend Mass at a local church before dinner at your hotel.
Day 3: Malta - The Three Cities - Valletta
After breakfast at your hotel, depart for a full-day guided excursion to the Three Cities of Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea, where in 1530 the Knights of St. John settled on the east coast in the creeks of Grand Harbor. Next, see the Miraculous Statue of Jesus Christ the Redeemer in the Oratory of the Basilica, dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary in Senglea. Later, take a typical harbor boat tour from Vittoriosa across the Grand Harbor to Valletta and see its waterfront. You will also see St. Johns Co-Cathedral and Museum in Valletta, and visit the oratory, which houses the famous Caravaggio paintings. Dinner and a restful overnight.
Day 4: Malta - Mellieha - Gozo
After breakfast at your hotel, depart for a full day's guided excursion to Gozo, a sister island of Malta. Here you'll visit the Mellieha Sanctuary of Our Lady, a Marian Shrine. The sanctuary was blessed by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Malta in 1990. The Sanctuary enjoys a picturesque view of the Valley of Our Lady, Mellieha Bay, Comino and Gozo. Later, see Munxar Parish Church, a Baroque style building dedicated to St. Paul, the Gozo Cathedral of the Assumption, and St. George's Basilica, known as the golden church of the "marble Basilica" of Gozo. The relics of St. Clement rest in the Baroque alter in the side chapel of St. Lazarus, one of eleven side chapels within the Basilica. Next, visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta'Pinu, Malta's most important pilgrimage site. The narrow rooms on either side of the alter are full of testaments of the local belief in the intercession of Our Lady. Lastly, return by ferry to Malta, and enjoy dinner and an overnight at your hotel.
Day 5: Malta - St. Paul's Bay - Mosta - Mdina - Rabat
After breakfast at your hotel, another full day's guided touring awaits. See St. Paul's Bay by boat, the Church of the Assumption of our Lady, St. Paul's Cathedral and Museum in Mdina, the medieval walled city, the Bastions, St. Paul's Catacombs, and St. Paul's Grotto. St. Paul's Grotto is said to be the place where St. Paul took refuge and prayed for three months while trying to convert the Maltese to Christianity following his shipwreck around 60 AD. Pope John Paul prayed in the grotto during his visit in 1990. Return to Malta for dinner and your last overnight.
Day 6: Malta to Rome
Today you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Rome, also known as, "The Eternal City". Upon arrival at Rome airport, collect your luggage in the baggage claim area, and continue to the Arrival's Hall, where you will be greeted by a tour escort and/or driver. You will make your way to the bus and transfer to your hotel. Following check-in, you will have free time to unpack and relax, or explore Rome on your own. Your tour escort may suggest places to visit. Later in the afternoon, your group will meet in the hotel lobby for a "Meet and Greet" with your fellow pilgrims and depart for Mass. Following Mass, you will attend a welcome dinner. After dinner, you will have the opportunity to walk to St. Peter's Square as a group, for the Rosary (optional).
Day 7: Rome: Papal Audience - Trevi Fountain – Pantheon - Basilica of St. John the Lateran – Holy Stairs - Basilica of St. Mary Major
This morning we attend the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square or at the Audience Hall. The Audience is celebrated each Wednesday by His Holiness, Pope Francis (pending the papal schedule). Next Trevi Fountain area for some free time and lunch (on own). This afternoon, visit the oldest of the four major Basilicas in Rome, the Archbasilica of St. John the Lateran, the cathedral church and seat of the Bishop of Rome. Cross the street to the very steps that lead up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem which Jesus climbed on His way to trial during his Passion. Holy Mass will be celebrated by our priest at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. This Basilica contains a relic from the manger of the infant Jesus. Dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Rome: St. Peter's Basilica - Vatican Museum - Appian Way - Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls - Catacombs
Today we tour St. Peter's Basilica, built on the site where St. Peter the Apostle was martyred. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to pray at the tomb of St. John Paul II and view Michelangelo's Pieta sculpture. Next you will visit the Vatican Museum, where you can see the Tapestry Gallery, Raphael Rooms, and Sistine Chapel. After lunch, continue down the Appian Way, one of the earliest roads built in ancient Rome to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and the Catacombs. Dinner and overnight in Rome.
Day 9: Rome - Montecassino - San Giovanni Rotondo
Following breakfast, you will board your bus to enjoy the scenic route to Montecassino. Passing through the Roman countryside that is known for its villas and vineyards. During the bus ride, your tour escort will share interesting information regarding the spiritual, historical, and cultural aspects of Italy. Montecassino, the principle monastery of the Benedictine Order, was founded by Saint Benedict around 530 A.D. Following the tour, there will be an opportunity to visit the gift shop, before you board the bus to continue toward San Giovanni Rotondo, the hometown of Saint St. Padre Pio. Upon arrival in San Giovanni Rotondo, you will check-in, enjoy dinner in a restaurant, and overnight.
Day 10: San Giovanni Rotondo (View Incorrupt Body of St. Padre Pio) - Monte Sant' Angelo
This morning, after breakfast, you will visit the Old Church. After Mass, you will tour the sanctuary, it is here you will view the crucifix, in front of which St. Pio received the stigmata. Visit the confessional from where St. Pio spent an innumerable amount of hours listening to confessions. Next, you will board the bus and travel along the beautiful Gargano Peninsula to the Grotto of St. Michael the Archangel, a shrine consecrated by St. Michael. At this grotto, St. Michael appeared to a Bishop to assure him that his diocese would not be annihilated as he feared. Following the visit to the grotto, enjoy free time. On the way back to San Giovanni Rotondo, view breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding countryside. Upon arrival, you will have time for devotion and reflection. Dinner and an overnight in San Giovanni Rotondo.
*Candlelight Procession - Between May and October attend the weekly Candlelight Procession at the Sanctuary of St. Pio after dinner, at 9:00 PM. These processions are lit by candlelight, and are guided by the Most Holy Rosary. Following this prayerful experience, you will return to your hotel for a restful overnight.
Day 11: San Giovanni Rotondo - Lanciano - Loreto - Assisi
After breakfast, you will head to Lanciano. Upon arrival in Lanciano, celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Longinus. This Church is the site of the Eucharistic Miracle that occurred in the eighth century. At the time of the Miracle, there was a Basilian monk who struggled with the belief in the real presence of The Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. During the time of Mass, the monk, with doubt in his voice, said the "Words of Consecration" and the bread turned into living flesh, and the wine transformed into live blood. There will be some free time to explore Lanciano, before continuing toward the Adriatic coast to the great Marian shrine of Loreto to visit the Holy House of Nazareth, and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto. More than 50 Pope's have made a pilgrimage to the house transported by angels to this hill in central Italy, in 1294. Tradition has it that this is the house in which Mary first prayed the Magnificat, in which Jesus grew to manhood, and in which the Holy Family lived. Continue on to Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis. Upon arrival in Assisi, you will enjoy dinner, before retiring to your room for a restful night's sleep.
Day 12: Assisi (The Life of a Saint that inspired a Holy Father)
As you visit the birthplace of St. Francis, you will become captivated as the atmosphere has not changed since St. Francis began his ministry, in the early 13th-century. You will start your tour at the St. Francis Basilica, visit his tomb of St. Francis, and have the opportunity to view a series of frescoes depicting his life, along with a few of the saint's possessions. Followed by a visit to the Santuario Della Spogliazione where Blessed Carlo Acutis’ tomb is placed. Carlo is the first millennial to be declared Blessed who loved the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. From there, you will continue on a walking tour through this picturesque town, including the birthplace of St. Francis, and end with a tour of the Church that honors St. Clare, the foundress of the Poor Clare Sisters. This Saint followed the teachings of St. Francis very closely by also living a life of poverty and humility. Enjoy some free time on your own - you may take this time for additional prayer, shop in the many gift shops or enjoy a nice lunch. After lunch, you will board the bus, which will take you outside of the walls of Assisi, to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. This is where St. Francis spent most of life. This Basilica is made up of two structures, both of which you will visit. The first structure, is the "Porziuncola", which is where St. Francis founded his order of the Friar Minor (Franciscans). The second, is the "Capella del Transito", which is the place of St. Francis' death. During your time here, you will have the opportunity to visit the beautiful Rose Garden where St. Francis and other friars lived, as well as the cave where the Saint retired to pray. Return to the hotel for dinner and an overnight.
Day 13: Assisi - Gubbio - La Verna - Assisi
After breakfast, you will drive through the beautiful Umbrian mountains to Gubbio. Enjoy this medieval town with a visit of St. Francis Church, where you will be celebrating Mass. After Mass, visit a town that seems painted onto the hill, a succession of backdrops against which towers and houses stand out, all embraced by walls. The town had been freed by St. Francis from a terrible and fierce wolf who afflicted it. After lunch on your own, continue to La Verna, the place where St. Francis, over the years, had been seven times, the last time in 1224 where he received the stigmata. Here you will be able to pray in the Chapel of the Stigmata, the Basilica and the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels. You will also be able to admire the beautiful artworks of Andrea della Robbia. Return to Assisi for dinner and your last overnight.
Day 14: Return Home
After an early breakfast and heartfelt farewells, your group will leave by motor coach and transfer to the Rome Fiumicino airport for return flights home.
About your trip
Rome has been one of the most powerful and influential cities throughout history, along with being home to the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, and the site of the Vatican City. First built in 337, St. Peter's Basilica lies over the tomb of St. Peter and contained within, is a vast array of the most beautiful artwork ever assembled, reflecting the immensity, beauty, vastness, majesty, and glory of God.