- See the Holy Father
- Climb the Holy Stairs
- See incorrupt saints
- Visit the Catacombs
- Explore the Vatican
- Follow St. Francis
- Admire St. Claire
- Wonder in St. Mary's
- Pray in St. Peter’s
- Share this with friends
Round-trip airfare from your city to Europe, Transportation within Rome and to Assisi, two meals per day, hostel or convent lodging, entrance fees, JMJ Youth Pilgrimage Guide from arrival to departure.
St. Francis Basilica began six months after the death of its patron Saint St. Francis. St. Francis was born around 1181-1182 to a wealthy family in Assisi Italy. After receiving a vision from God, St. Francis gave up his comfortable lifestyle and chose to live in poverty to help the poor and bring God to all people. During his life he founded the Franciscan Order of Friars and the Order of the Poor Clares. He preached about love, simplicity and peace and became the patron Saint of animals, Italy, the environment, etc… after his death in 1226. There are two basilicas within this church. The upper basilica is filled with frescoes from Giotto, some of which were damaged in the earthquake of 1997. The lower basilica is a good representation of Italian Gothic. In the crypt, you will find the tomb of St. Francis, which is directly under the high altar of both basilicas. His first companions are also buried here, in the four corners of the ambulatory.
St. Clare Basilica is where the Poor Clares live and it houses the San Damiano cross from which Christ spoke to St. Francis. St. Clare lived during the time of St. Francis. She was also from a wealthy family, but was inspired by the life of St. Francis to leave her wealth and family behind to live a life of prayer and poverty. Her family was so distraught that her uncle led a band of armed men to find her. They found her clinging to the altar and after a brief struggle, and noticing that she had cut off her beautiful hair, they left her. She was buried in this Basilica, which was built after her death. Also in the crypt, near her tomb, there are other relics of St. Clare.
The Pantheon is a circular building that was initially built as a temple to the gods, sometime between 27 BC and 14 AD. It was reconstructed in 126 AD and in the 7th Century it began its use by the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs. Every year on the feast of Pentecost, a shower of rose petals are poured through the opening in the top.
St. Mary Major was the first church built in honor of our Lady, in the early 430s, by Pope Sixtus III after the Council of Ephesus proclaimed that Mary was the Mother of God. The basilica houses many beautiful mosaics and treasures, including the Holy Crib of the infant Jesus. The basilica was originally called Our Lady of the Snows because the legend says that on the 5th of August a snow fell on this hill as a sign to build a church in honor of Our Lady. The legend is still celebrated by dropping white rose petals from the dome during the celebration of the mass.
The Holy Stairs are the stone stairs that Jesus ascended when being condemned to death by Pontius Pilate. They were back from the Holy Land by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Individuals are able to walk up or ascend on their knees while offering up their prayers and intentions. Underneath the glass on a few steps you can see drops of Jesus’ blood.
The Catacombs of San Callisto are underground burial chambers for the early year Christians and Jews. The excavations began in the 2nd century until the late 4th century. The Roman custom at the time was to cremate bodily remains, but the Christians and Jews believed in burying the remains because of the bodily resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ. Some residents of these catacombs consist of popes and martyrs, including St. Cecilia, the patroness of musicians.
The Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, was built of concrete and stone in 70 AD. It was the largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire and is still the largest amphitheatre in the world. The Coliseum could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators and was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions of Christians, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The inside was extensively stripped of the stone to use for other buildings in Rome, and later went through renovations. What remains of the outer walls are the original stones. The rest were also taken down to use for other building projects. Since the Coliseum is a place where Christian martyrs died, the Catholic Church has consecrated it and declared it sanctified by the blood of Christian martyrs.
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world and is located on the burial site of the Apostle and first Bishop of Rome, St. Peter. Tradition and evidence hold that St. Peter’s tomb is directly below the altar. A small shrine was built on his tomb a few years after his death and the first Basilica built was done by Constantine the Great in the early 4th century. The present day Basilica was built between 1506-1626. St. Peter met his martyrdom when he was crucified upside down in the Circus of Nero. Christian followers buried him just outside the circus. Although the Holy Father lives in the Vatican Apartments attached to St. Peter’s Basilica, his Church as the Bishop of Rome is actually St. John Lateran. The Basilica is so grand inside, yet everything is designed as an optical illusion. For instance, there are two rows of statues. The statues on the upper level are 4 feet taller than those on the bottom, yet they look the same size. The baldachino over the altar is actually the height of a 10-story building. Among all the beautiful works of arts and treasures is Michelangelo’s Pieta. There are 150 popes buried here, including St. Peter and the late John Paul II.
Santa Prassede is a small church located around the corner from St. Mary Major. It houses the pillar where Jesus was scourged. The designs and mosaics in the church are Byzantine, influenced during the Byzantine Empire. The church also houses bones for over 2000 martyrs of the early Church. In the middle ages, thieves threatened the remains of the martyrs in the catacombs outside the city walls. The Church decided to move the remains within the city and this is the place that they chose. The remains are located underneath the altar in two sarcophagi.
9 Day Itinerary
Day 1 Depart your city for Rome
Day 2 Arrive in Rome, travel by bus or train to Assisi, the medieval hillside hamlet of St. Francis and St. Claire, watch the sunset from the castle
Day 3 Visit the Basilicas of St. Francis and St. Claire, the Temple of Minerva, spend time exploring Assisi and St. Mary of the Angels
Day 4 Morning train or bus to Rome. Afternoon walking tour of Ancient Rome: Piazza Navona, various churches, pantheon and Spanish Steps
Day 5 Pray at San Peter in Chains, witness the Coliseum and Roman Forum (entrance optional), enjoy the Gesu and Trevi Fountain
Day 6 Explore the Catacombs of S. Callisto, St. John Lateran, the Holy Stairs and Santa Croce
Day 7 Marvel at St. Peter's, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel
Day 8 Spend time in St. Mary Major and Santa Prassede. Possible Papal Angelus and free time
Day 9 Depart Rome for your city
Mass will be celebrated daily within the itinerary.
Specific locations and events within the daily itinerary are subject to change depending on actual travel dates.
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