Shrines of Italy and Medjugorje with Fr. James Williams
May 15 - 28, 2023
(Based on double occupancy)
(extra for single supplement)
What is included
• Round-trip airfare from your desired Airport • All airport taxes & fuel surcharges
• Centrally located hotels:
• 4 nights: in Medjugorje (Hotel Lavanda 4*)
• 3 nights: in Rome (Hotel della Conciliazione 4* or similar)
• 2 night: in San Giovanni Rotondo (Hotel Vittoria 4* or similar)
• 1 night: in Corato (Appia Antica Hotel 4* or similar)
• 2 nights: in Assisi (Hotel Cenacolo 4* or similar)
• Transfers as per itinerary
• Breakfast and Dinner daily
• Wine with dinners
• Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach • Assistance of a professional local guide(s)
• Assistance of tour leader and tour escort
• Transfers as per itinerary
• Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary • Mass daily & Spiritual activities
• Luggage handling (1 piece per person)
• Tour leader (s)
• 81 Tours backpack & portfolio of all travel documents
What is not included
• Lunches, Tips to your guide & driver
• Anything not specified in the included section
sample of itinerary
Day 1: (May 15 - Monday) Depart for Rome
Make your way to your local airport, where you will board your overnight flight(s). Your meals will be served on board.
Day 2: (May 16 - Tuesday) Arrival in Rome
Upon landing at Rome Airport, make your way to the baggage claim area and collect your luggage. Proceed to the arrival's hall, where you will be greeted by your tour leader (look for a sign 81 Tours). You will be escorted to the bus and begin a panoramic sightseeing tour of the Eternal City driving towards your Hotel. Following check-in you will have time to unpack and relax. 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 Our Hotel is situated within walking distance from St. Peter Square.
Day 3: (May 17 - Wednesday) Rome: Papal Audience - Basilica of St. John the Lateran - Holy Steps - Basilica of St. Mary Major
After breakfast at your hotel, Our pilgrimage starts! The tour begins with the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square! The Audience is celebrated each Wednesday by His Holiness, Pope Francis (pending the papal schedule). Following the Audience, there will be free time for lunch, or to shop, or to mail a postcard from the Vatican Post Office. This afternoon, you will visit the oldest of the four major basilicas in Rome, and the home to the relics of Peter and Paul, the Basilica of St. John the Lateran. This Basilica is where Pope Francis was installed as Bishop of Rome, and where he officiates as the Bishop of Rome. Next, you will cross the street to visit the Holy Staircase. Tradition states that this staircase is from Pontius Pilate’s palace of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. It is also said this Staircase was brought to Rome by St. Helen in the 4th century. If time permits, you may climb the steps on your knees, in memory of Christ’s agonizing Passion. You will proceed to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to conclude your day. This Basilica contains a relic from the Manger of the Infant Jesus. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 4: (May 18 - Thursday) Rome: St. Peter’s Basilica - Scavi Tour - Vatican Museum - Trevi Fountain - Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
This morning, you will enjoy an early breakfast before making your way to the largest Christendom Church, St. Peter’s Basilica. This Basilica was built on the site where St. Peter, the first Pope and Bishop of Rome, was martyred. We will go under St. Peter basilica for the Scavi tour (necropolis). Take a look at the wonderful Michelangelo’s Pieta. This stunning marble sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary holding Christ after His crucifixion, death, and removal of the cross before being placed in the tomb. Continue to proceed to the Vatican Museums. At the world-renowned museum, you will see the most impressive of edifices, galleries, and awe-inspiring relics. Additionally, you will observe the Tapestry Gallery, Raphael Rooms, the Sistine Chapel, and Michelangelo’s Masterpiece, the restored mural of the Last Judgment. The final stop on your Vatican tour is at the tomb of Saint John Paul II. Afterward, you will be transferred to the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), where you may enjoy some free time on your own for lunch. The day concludes with a visit to the Basilica of St. Paul, outside the walls. Originally founded by Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century, this Basilica is the burial places of Saint Paul the Apostle. Next, make your way to a local restaurant for dinner. Following dinner, feel free to explore the streets of Rome, or return to the hotel for overnight.
Day 5: (May 19 - Friday) Rome - Monte Cassino - Corato
Following breakfast, you will board your bus to enjoy the scenic route to Monte Cassino. 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. Monte Cassino, 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 Corato, City of Luisa Piccarreta. Upon arrival at our hotel, you will check in, enjoy dinner in a restaurant, and overnight.
Day 5: (May 20 - Saturday) Corato - San Giovanni Rotondo
After breakfast, we will start our pilgrimage in the city of Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta.
This day we will be learning more about "Little Daughter of the Divine Will" . There will be free time for your private lunch. Following our tour board the bus to continue toward San Giovanni Rotondo, the hometown of Saint Padre Pio. Upon arrival in San Giovanni Rotondo, you will check in, enjoy dinner in a restaurant, and overnight.
Day 6: (May 21 - Sunday) San Giovanni Rotondo (View Incorrupt Body of St. Padre Pio) - Monte Sant’ Angelo
This morning, 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 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. Upon return, you will have time for devotion and reflection. Dinner and 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 7: (May 22 - Monday) 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, a Basilian monk 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, we will check in and have dinner.
Day 8: (May 23 - Tuesday) Assisi
Enjoy an early breakfast, followed by a full day of touring the hometown of St. Francis. St. Francis is the “Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment.” 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. From there, you will continue on a walking tour through this picturesque town. visit the tomb of Carlo Acutis, 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 a 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 his 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 and the cave where the Saint retired to pray. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: (May 24 - Wednesday) Italy to Medjugorje
After an early breakfast, we will be heading to Medjugorje for 4 nights.
Day 10: (May 25 - Thursday) Medjugorje
After breakfast, we will attend Holy Mass at St. James Church at 10:00 a.m. followed by orientation and group prayer. The evening prayer program starts at 6:00 p.m. Our Lady has requested it and it is the highlight of the pilgrimage to medjugorje. The program starts with rosaries, followed by international Holy Mass, and depending on the day of the week ends with Adoration of The Most Blessed Sacrament or Veneration of Holy Cross or rosary.
Day 11 and 12: (May 26 and 27 - Friday and Saturday)
Some of the activities in Medjugorje
Climb Apparition Hill: This mountainous hill is where the visionaries first encountered Our Lady. Also, at the base of this hill is a Blue Cross, where it is said Our Lady appeared to the children while they hid from the communist police in the early days of the apparitions. When climbing, the group is invited to recite the Rosary, pausing five times for each decade of the Rosary. At the top of the hill, you will enjoy private time in prayer.
Climb Mt. Krizevac (Cross Mountain): In 1933, the villagers built a 30’ high cross atop a mountain to commemorate Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. When climbing, group is invited to pray the Stations of the Cross pausing fifteen times for each Station.
Apparitions: Each evening at 6 PM (summer time) group will join the villagers and fellow pilgrims of Medjugorje in saying the Rosary as all anxiously await the arrival of Our Lady to the visionaries. Following the apparition, at 6:40 PM. Following the International Mass, there is a Blessing of the Sick
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: Our Lady has always called us to be close to her Son. For this, you will have the opportunity to adore the Blessed Sacrament at the outside altar of St. James Church or inside of the St. James church. Adoration is held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; Veneration of the Cross is held on Fridays. Additionally, there is an Adoration Chapel on the grounds of St. James Church. Adoration is held here in the afternoon hours.
Meetings with the Visionaries: Pending their availability
Prayer at the Statue of the Risen Christ: Located on the grounds of St. James Church, is the bronze statue of the Risen Christ. Many pilgrims sit and pray on the benches surrounding this peaceful statue.
Day 13: (May 28 - Sunday)
early departure to The airport followed by a flight to the USA.
Medjugorje, located in Bosnia & Herzegovina, is the site of the 1981 Marian Apparitions. On June 24th, 1981 Six children witnessed the Blessed Virgin Mary on what is now known as Apparition Hill. The apparition had a message of peace for the world, as well as a call to conversion, prayer, and fasting. She appeared to them with an infant in their arms and confided ten secrets to the children. The children, now adults, of them who continue to see her every day.
The Eternal City has a history and an appeal like no other city in the world. Here we learn of the history of men and women, popes and saints who have dedicated their lives to the Church and to spread the Christian message. Being the cradle of the Catholic Church, Rome has many sacred places of worship. The greatest of the city's monumental basilicas is without doubt St. Peter's Basilica with its unique collection of artistic and architectural masterpieces, erected over the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle.
San Giovanni Rotondo
The humble friar "Padre Pio of Pietrelcina" has been responsible for the transformation of the once remote agricultural town of San Giovanni Rotondo into an international place of pilgrimage. The sanctuary is home to some fine works of modern architecture and art however the Franciscan atmosphere is still very much present in the ancient Church of Our Lady of Grace and adjoining capuchin friary which remains untouched by time. The great work, "Casa Sollievo Della Sofferenza", so much desired by the friar continues to flourish and is now one of the leading hospitals in Europe - Padre Pio of Pietrelcina is still very much present in the town of San Giovanni Rotondo.
Learn more of the life of Luisa Piccarreta and afterward have time for prayer at the tomb of the ‘little Daughter of the Divine Will. visit the house of Luisa Piccarreta. Luisa was a mystic and victim soul confined to her bed with an illness that no doctor could identify and who lived on the Eucharist and the Divine Will for over 60 years. With the permission of Pope Leo XIII, Mass was celebrated in her bedroom daily. We will see some of the laceworks of Luisa and copies of some of her writings, many of which have been published.
The most treasured and venerated shrine of Our Lady throughout the world is that of the Holy House of Nazareth which is enshrined in the basilica in Loreto. According to tradition, transported by angels to the town of Loreto, the Holy House is the same house where Our Lady grew up and received the Annunciation. A pilgrimage destination since at least the 14th century, the flow of pilgrims arriving in the town of Loreto continues to this day.
Assisi continues to attract pilgrims from the world over who come to the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. From the picturesque scenery surrounding the medieval town, the breathtaking works of art in the Basilica of St. Francis, and the tranquil surroundings of the convent of San Damiano, Assisi is truly a place where nature, art and spirituality unite.
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