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Franciscan Order - Order of Friars Minor (OFM)

DAY 1 - USA/ROME - Today we depart our home airport for our overnight flight to Rome aboard a wide bodied jet. We enjoy in-flight movies, dinner and breakfast aloft.

DAY 2 - ROME/ASSISI – Upon arrival in Rome, we are met by our Unitours Tour Manager as we board our motor coach and journey through the Italian countryside through Umbria to the hilltop village of Assisi. Our first stop is Chiesa Nuova;this baroque church was built in 1615 on the remains of a building believed to be the house of St. Francis' family. Following our pilgrims Mass, we then proceed to our hotel for our “welcome” dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 3 - ASSISI - This morning, we visit San Rufino and celebrate Mass. We view the baptismal font where Saint Francis was baptized. We stop for lunch on our own and then proceed to the Church of San Damiano, where St. Francis first heard the call from the cross. We conclude our day with dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 4 - ASSISI - Today, we begin our walking tour of the village with a visit to the Church of St. Clare, where we view the San Damiano crucifix that spoke to St.Francis. After lunch on our own, we move on to the Hermitage of the Carceri, where Francis and his Friars retreated from the world to pray and fast. Here, the grotto of St. Francis can also be seen. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.

DAY 5 - ASSISI This morning, we begin the day with Mass at Santa Maria Maggiore, the Church where St. Francis famously stripped himself before the Bishop and declared that now he only had "our father" in heaven. While there we also visit the glass sarcophagus of Blessed Carlo Acutis, the “Millennial Saint” before proceeding to Rocca Maggiore (former medieval fort above the city) Following a break for lunch on our own, the afternoon is free to explore, shop, or relax. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 6 - ASSISI/GRECCIO/FONTE COLOMBO/ASSISI - the Rivo Torto church, where we celebrate Mass. This is where Francis and his early companions found shelter. Francis and his followers were evicted by an irascible peasant and his donkey. We travel out of Assisi among wheat fields and vines with giant stems to reach the Fonte Colombo Monastery, where St. Francis underwent an operation, which cured him of eye trouble. He dictated the Franciscan Rules in the grotto, after having fasted for forty days. We see the 12C Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, adorned with frescoes with the “T” the emblem of the Cross designed by St. Francis, the St. Michael Chapel and the grotto where St. Francis fasted, the tree-trunk in which Jesus appeared to him. Following a stop for lunch on our own, our pilgrimage takes us to the Greccio Monastery that clings at an altitude of 2,093 feet to a rock, which is on top of a vertical cliff; a remarkable view of Rieti and its basin is revealed. The buildings were erected in 1260 on the spot where St. Francis was celebrating Christmas in 1223 at a manger between an ox and an ass – thus started the custom of making cribs at Christmas. You will see the Chapel of the Crib (frescoes by the school of Giotto) and where St. Francis slept. On the upper floor is the famous portrait of St. Francis when he was blind. Alongside are the cells of St.Bernardino and St. Bonaventura. We conclude our day with dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 7 - ASSISI/LA VERNA/ASSISI - This morning, we begin with Mass at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (Church located in the Piazza Comune, built over the former pagan shrine to Minerva.) Later we journey to La Verna. Lunch (Pranzo) is included. A superb and impressive countryside is traversed by the roads leading to the Monastery of La Verna overlooking chalk cliffs and standing in grim solitude in an ancient clump of pines and beeches. St. Francis of Assisi, who received the stigmata there on September 14, 1224, founded it in 1214. You will see the Chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli,the bed of St. Francis, the “Sasso Spicco,” the Chapel of the Stigmata. The basilica contains several terracottas by Andrea Della Robbia, of which a remarkable pair represent the Annunciation and the Nativity. While there, we also witness the 3 o’clock procession. Our day ends with dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 8 - ASSISI/ROME – Today starts with an early morning Mass at St. Francis’tombs. We continue for a visit to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, and the Portiuncula, Francis' Church of the Little Portion. Following a break for lunch on our own, it’s off to Rome, where upon arrival, we enjoy a drive-by orientation tour before checking into our hotel. Dinner is on our own at a local restaurant and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 9 - ROME - This morning, we celebrate Mass in one of the crypts at the Vatican. Afterwards, we view the treasures of the Vatican Museum. We marvel at Michelangelo's recently restored frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. This afternoon, following a break for lunch on our own, we visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. This evening, dinner on our own, at another pleasant restaurant before we return to our hotel.

DAY 10 – ROME/PAPAL AUDIENCE - Today, we make our way to St. Peters for the Audience of Pope Francis, if he is in residence. This afternoon, following a stop for lunch on our own, we visit the Coliseum, and the Roman Forum. We celebrate our final Pilgrimage Mass at the Franciscan General Curia before our festive farewell dinner and a tour of Rome by twilight (ARRANGED ON SITE WITH YOUR TOUR MANAGER). We return to our hotel for overnight.

DAY 11 – ROME/RETURN TO US - This morning we make our way to the airport for our return flight home. Filled with memories of a lifetime and a greater appreciation for the pious example of St.Francis!