Pastor Byron Thomas & Ben Hill

Join Byron Thomas and Ben Hill

United Methodist Church on a Pilgrimage to Christian Italy

October 24 – November 03, 2017

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Tuesday/October 24

Day 1; Overnight Flight to Rome: Travel on an inspirational journey to some of the most fascinating religious sites and relics in the world with Pastor Byron Thomas.

Wednesday/October 25

Day 2: Rome, Italy – Tour Begins
Your tour opens in Rome. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a special welcome dinner at a popular local restaurant featuring regional delicacies and fine Italian wines. (D) : Columbus/Mediterraneo or similar

Thursday/October 26

Day 3: Rome – Assisi
Travel north to Assisi. Join a local expert for a fascinating tour of Assisi. Begin at the Church of St. Clare, dedicated to St. Clare, the founder of the Order of Poor Clares, who followed the teachings of St. Francis by living a life of poverty and humility. Kneel before the crucifix from which Jesus spoke to St. Francis, asking him to rebuild his church. Pause to reflect at the Chapel of the Porziuncola, the rose bush, and the cave where the Saint prayed. Then we make our way to the huge 13th-century Basilica of St. Francis where you can see many of St. Francis‛ possessions and a series of frescoes depicting his life. Time for prayer and fellowship before setting out for St. Mary of the Angels Basilica, where St. Francis spent most of his life. (B,D) Grand Hotel dei Congressi or similar

Friday/October 27

Day 4: Assisi – Florence Excursion
Full day excursion to Florence, the “Renaissance City,” where a local expert provides a leisurely paced walking tour featuring the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – one of the largest Churches in the Christian world. You also view the Palazzo Vecchio, the Ponte Vecchio, and visit the Church of Santa Croce. Enjoy several hours at leisure in Florence before returning to Assisi.(B) Grand Hotel dei Congressi or similar

Saturday/October 28

Day 5: Assisi – Loreto – San Giovanni Rotondo
Travel across the Apennine Mountains toward the Adriatic Coast to the Marian Shrine of Loreto. Discover the Holy House of Nazareth and the beautiful Madonna of Loreto where more than 50 popes have made a pilgrimage. Continuing your journey to San Giovanni Rotondo, home of Padre Pio.(B,D) Rotondo: Hotel Gran Paradiso or similar

Sunday/October 29

Day 6: San Giovanni Rotondo – Monte Sant‛ Angelo – San Giovanni Rotondo
Begin your day with a special visit to Monte Sant‛ Angelo. Take in the breathtaking views of the Gargano Peninsula and explore one of the most celebrated shrines of early Christianity – the Grotto of St. Michael the Archangel. Many Popes and Saints have knelt and prayed at this grotto, seeking the protection of Saint Michael. Later, return to San Giovanni Rotondo and celebrate Mass in the sanctuary of Padre Pio. This is followed by a tour of the sanctuary, including the old church and the crucifix from which he received the stigmata in 1918, as well as Padre Pio‛s tomb. Then, visit the new church dedicated in 2004 to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. You will also see the confessional where Padre Pio spent many hours directing pilgrims on their journey toward God. (B,D) Rotondo: Hotel Gran Paradiso or similar

Monday/October 30

Day 7: San Giovanni Rotondo – Abbey of Santissima Trinita – Campania
Journey through the picturesque landscape of the regions of Apulia and Campania to Cava de Tirreni. Be introduced to the Benedictine Abbey of Santissima Trinita, founded in the 11th century by a local saint. After a guided visit to the Abbey, you will have the option for prayer and fellowship. (B,D) Hotel Scapolaliello or similar

Tuesday/October 31

Day 8: Campania – Madonna del Rosario – Abbey of Montecassino – Rome
Continue your travels to the town of Pompeii where you will visit the Madonna del Rosario Sanctuary, one of the most famous shrines of Christianity. Later, travel to Montecassino to discover the renowned abbey founded by St. Benedict in the 6th century A.D. This sacred place houses the relics of St. Benedict and his sister, Saint Scholastica. Montecassino also became famous during the battles that took place here during World War II, when the abbey was bombed and destroyed. Your day ends in Rome. (B) Grand Hotel dei Congressi or similar

Wednesday/November 01

Day 9: Rome – Papal Audience** – Vatican Museum
This morning, attend the weekly papal audience** at Vatican City to receive the blessing given by His Holiness, Pope Francis. Later, visit the Vatican Museum*** where you will view such historical treasures as the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo‛s restored mural of the Last Judgment. Then it‛s on to the breathtaking St. Peter‛s Basilica, built on the site where St. Peter was martyred. Known as the grandest of the world‛s churches, St. Peter‛s is unsurpassed in beauty.(B)
Grand Hotel dei Congressi or similar

Thursday/November 02

Day10: Rome – Christian Rome City Tour
Begin your day at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls; the remains of St. Paul are located under its main altar. You‛ll celebrate Mass here before making your way to the catacombs, where early Christians fearing persecution hid and buried their dead. Continue on to visit the other major Roman basilicas, St. Mary Major and St. John in Lateran, former residences of the popes prior to their return to Rome in 1377. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner celebrating the end of a memorable pilgrimage to Italy.(B,D) Grand Hotel dei Congressi or similar

Friday/November 03

Day 11: Rome – Your tour comes to a close today in Rome.(B) Transfer to Airport for flight home

Tour Rates

Air and Land Package: $3699

Single room Supplement add $450

Three people in a room, each person deduct $75

Plus tips for guide, Driver, Restaurants and Porterage $135

Accommodations:  Rome: Columbus/Mediterraneo Assisi: Grand Hotel dei Congressi
San Giovanni Rotondo: Hotel Gran Paradiso Cava dei Tirreni: Hotel Scapolaliello or similar

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