A 12-day Catholic pilgrimage to Italy February 12 to 23 Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 -- 1:00 AM

This is at the same time when Bishop Robert C. Morlino will be making his regular Ad Limina visit to Rome to pray at the tombs of the Apostles and to meet with Pope Benedict XVI and various Vatican officials.

Bishop Morlino said in inviting people to join the pilgrimage, “It’s a moving opportunity for a bishop to be with the successor of St. Peter, the Pope, and to tell him of all that is happening in the Church he has been asked to lead.  What a great joy, then, for a bishop to be able to have some of the faithful from his diocese with him during that time, to pray with and for him at the tombs of the Apostles and to have a physical experience of the unity of our Church.”

Time is of the essence

Mater Dei Tours based in Waunakee is organizing the pilgrimage, but time is of the essence. Those interested in participating should contact Mater Dei Tours for more information and to sign up at 608-849-4359 or 800-515-2632.

Registration deadline is November 10 or while space lasts, said Juan Landa of Mater Dei Tours, who will serve as pilgrimage director. Fr. Greg Ihm, who was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Madison in 2010 and studied in Rome, will be spiritual director and chaplain for the pilgrimage in Rome.

Pilgrims will depart from the United States on Sunday, Feb. 12. Airfare is included from Chicago, Ill., but is available from other cities for an additional price. Arrival in Rome will be on February 13.

While in Rome

In Rome, pilgrims will visit historic sites, including the Flavian Amphitheater (Coliseum), and take a sightseeing tour of the city. They will also attend Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and tour the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.

At St. Peter’s Basilica, there will be chance to pay respects to Blessed John Paul II at his tomb. Pilgrims will attend an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and, pending Vatican approval, tour the scavi, below the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica where the tomb of St. Peter, the first pope, was found following secret excavations during World War II.

Pilgrims will tour the Catacombs of St. Calixtus and then visit St. Paul Outside the Wall, one of the four patriarchal basilicas of the Church in Rome. The group will also visit St. Mary Major, which houses relics of the manger from Bethlehem, and St. John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome as well as the Church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, which has relics of the Holy Cross.

The time in Rome will also include a relaxed walk through the old streets of Rome. Mass will be celebrated at the Altar of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop Morlino’s namesake, at St. Ignatius Church.

Pilgrims will also visit the North American College (NAC), hosted by Father Ihm. There will be an opportunity to meet the Madison seminarians studying there. At the end of the tour, the pilgrims will join the NAC community for Mass with Bishop Morlino and lunch with the bishop. After lunch (pending Vatican approval) there will be tour of the Vatican Gardens.

On Sunday, Feb. 19, pilgrims will arrive at St. Peter’s Square to join pilgrims from all over the world to pray the Angelus Prayer with the Holy Father and listen to his message. That day the group will travel to the Prelatic Church of Saint Mary of Peace to celebrate Sunday Mass with Bishop Morlino followed by dinner (pending the bishop’s schedule).

Visit to Assisi and Orvieto

On February 20, the pilgrims will depart from Rome for a drive through the region of Lazio to the peaceful Umbria region, the land of St. Francis and St. Clare. They will visit Assisi for two days to tour the chapels and have Mass in the St. Mary of the Angels Basilica and the Basilica of St. Francis. Pilgrims will visit the tombs of St. Francis and his disciples and the Basilica of St. Clare.

On February 22, there will be a visit to the hill-top town of Orvieto, famous for its white wine, fine pottery, and the cathedral that houses the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena. Pilgrims will learn about this miracle and enjoy the facade of the cathedral as well as the beautiful art inside.

The pilgrims will return to Rome and attend the Stational Ash Wednesday Mass that evening at Santa Sabina and enjoy a farewell dinner.

Pilgrims will depart from Rome on February 23, taking one last look at the beautiful land that now holds a special place in their hearts.

A deposit of $500 per person is required to secure space on the pilgrimage. The balance is due on December 12.

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