Diocesan pilgrims will stop at Annecy, Rome, Assisi
Frankly speaking, the Diocese of Wilmington’s 150th Anniversary Pilgrimage to Annecy and Rome next spring will be all about Francis. Four leaders of the church named Francis, that is, will highlight the journey — Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Pope Francis, St. Francis de Sales and St. Francis of Assisi.
Bishop Malooly will lead the diocesan pilgrimage from April 16-26 next year starting in Annecy, France, where Francis de Sales, the patron saint of the diocese, ministered.
The pilgrimage’s schedule in Rome will include Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus blessing and his weekly Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s square; there’s also a day trip from Rome to the Umbrian region of Italy where pilgrims will visit the hometown and burial place of St. Francis of Assisi.
(See information at the end of this story for the current itinerary of the pilgrimage.)
Father John Solomon, a member of the anniversary committee that’s coordinating the pilgrimage, noted Bishop Malooly will be celebrating Masses at holy sites and preaching, and tour guides will be leading groups of diocesan pilgrims through a variety of churches and museums.
Two special events for diocesan pilgrims in Rome will include a private tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, and another of the archeological dig below St. Peter’s Basilica, Father Solomon said.
For the Vatican Museum tour, “we’re talking about one of the top five museums in the world. It’s a very popular place, usually very crowded,” Father Solomon said. “Our tour will be after the regular hours; it will be in the evening.”
Pilgrims will also be admitted to small-group tours of the “Scavi,” the excavations of a 2,000-year-old Roman cemetery under St. Peter’s Basilica.
The tour will provide pilgrims a special appreciation of the history of the Vatican Hill and its link to the site of St. Peter’s martyrdom.
It’s the Masses and the holy places on the schedule that make the “tour” a pilgrimage, Father Solomon said.
Assisi is memorable for most pilgrims, said Father Solomon, who spent years studying in Rome and is very familiar with the city and Italy.
“In Assisi, you definitely get a sense that this is a holy place, a very special place,” he said.
Assisi is an example of a Middle Ages city, built atop a hill for defense, with its castle at the top and the old town nestled close to it.
“Do your Stair-Master before you go,” Father Solomon advised. “You’re going to be doing more walking than you’re used to,” not only in Assisi but in the narrow streets of Rome where buses are slowed by city traffic and fearless pedestrians.
Annecy’s Alpine lake
After arriving from Philadelphia in Geneva on April 17, participants will take motor coaches to Annecy less than an hour away, to begin the anniversary pilgrimage in the Haute-Savoie region that was home to St. Francis de Sales.
“It’s a beautiful little place,” Father Solomon said. “It’s on a lake. … I think it’s good that when we arrive there after the flight, we’ll get acclimated and be able to see the places where St. Francis de Sales walked and taught. It’s special to be able to go to spend some time at the basilica there,” where both Francis and St. Jane Frances de Chantal, who was mentored by Francis and founded the Visitation sisters, are entombed.
“There is something about going to holy places and seeing where people have gone forth marked with the sign of faith,” Father Solomon said. “We can go and see these places and pray and ask for (the saints’) intercessions. There’s a great tradition of pilgrimage from the very early times.”
The trip will cost $3,325 person, based on double occupancy of hotel rooms. It will be $3,225 person, triple occupancy; and $4,175 for single occupancy of a room.
A minimum $400 per person deposit for the pilgrimage is due by July 20; final payments are due by Nov. 9, 2017.
Those prices include: economy class air fare on scheduled airlines from Philadelphia to Rome; nine nights hotel accommodations in a 4-star hotel in Rome and 3-star properties in Annecy including buffet breakfasts; three lunches and seven dinners including a farewell dinner in Rome; airport transfers and ground transportation by private motor coach, guided sightseeing tours; and daily Mass celebrations.
The pilgrimage is just one event that will mark the Diocese of Wilmington’s 150th anniversary of its founding. Pilgrimage sites within the diocese will also be designated in the future for the yearlong celebration that begins March 3, 2018, commemorating the establishment of the diocese by Pope Pius IX in 1868. The closing event will be March 3, 2019.
Brochures for the pilgrimage will be available soon in all parishes. For more information, call Caravelle Tours Inc., at 877-625-2700 or email email@example.com.
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Anniversary Pilgrimage Itinerary
• Day 1: Monday, April16
Depart from Philadelphia airport for Geneva, Switzerland, on regular scheduled airline service. Dinner and breakfast served on board.
• Day 2: Tuesday, April 17 GENEVA/ANNECY
Upon arrival at Geneva airport, meet tour leader and board the private motor coach that will take travelers to the hotel in Annecy. Late afternoon Mass of Thanksgiving for a safe trip, possibly at the Church of St. Francis de Sales. Dinner served at the hotel.
• Day 3: Wednesday, April 18
Guided sightseeing tour includes the Basilica of the Visitation featuring the relics of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances of Chantal, the founder the Order of the Visitation nuns. Possible Mass, then visit the Church of St. Francis de Sales, the burial place for both saints until the French Revolution in 1793; the Gallery House, where the Visitation Order began; the 16th century Cathedral of St. Pierre; the House of Madame de Charmoisy, mentioned in the Introduction of the Devout Life, and the places where St. Francis de Sales’ miracles took place. The rest of the afternoon is free, then dinner at the hotel.
• Day 4: Thursday, April 19
After breakfast depart for Geneva airport and board the flight to Rome. Check-in at the hotel. Mass before dinner, which will be served at the hotel.
• Day 5: Friday, April 20
Scavi Tour of the excavations beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. Free time for shopping and lunch, then a guided visit of St. Peter’s Basilica. Mass in the late afternoon, then private tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel after regular opening hours. Dinner at a selected restaurant before returning to the hotel.
• Day 6: Saturday, April 21
Guided tour including the Basilica of Rome, St. John Lateran, the Holy Stairs believed to be actual steps Jesus climbed the day He was sentenced to death, and visit to the Basilica of St. Clement, one of the most richly decorated churches in Rome, and its three layers of excavations. The rest of the afternoon is free. In the evening, meet at the hotel to walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
• Day 7: Sunday, April 22
Early Mass in St. Peter’s at the Altar of St. Joseph. Move on to St. Peter’s Square and await the Angelus and receive the Papal Blessing from the Holy Father. After an included lunch, explore the city on your own.
• Day 8: Monday, April 23
Early Mass at the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, where Pope Pius IX, who established the Wilmington diocese is buried. Guided tour will feature the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Explore the Catacombs, continue with visit to Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and the Basilica of St. Mary Major, built in 432 AD. The evening is free.
• Day 9: Tuesday, April 24
Day trip to Assisi. Depart Rome early for a day trip through the region of Umbria, to the hometown of St. Francis, Assisi. Mass on arrival at the Basilica of St. Francis and tour of the Basilica possibly led by a Franciscan friar. Free time for included lunch and shopping before guided tour of the Basilica of St. Clare, St. Francis’ birthplace and the Piazza del Comune. On the return to Rome, stop at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels with its Porziuncola Chapel. Evening pizza party with fellow pilgrims.
• Day 10: Wednesday, April 25
Begin the day at the General Papal Audience given by His Holiness Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square. Remainder of the day is open for last minute independent sightseeing, such as the Trevi Fountain, where you can toss a coin, or shopping or packing. In the late afternoon, Mass at a selected church then an “Arrivederci Roma” toast will be in order at the Farewell Dinner.
• Day 11: Thursday, April 26
Accompanied by your tour leader by motor coach to the airport and assisted with check in formalities to board your flight home.