Nestled high in the Alpine mountains of Austria, the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariazell is the most-visited Marian shrine in Central Europe, receiving about a million pilgrims each year. The basilica and shrine are located at the center of Mariazell, which is also a popular resort town, and its three west towers can be seen from around the city. The central tower is Gothic and was preserved from the 14th-century church; the two flanking Baroque towers were added in the 17th century. The Gothic portal with carved tympanum has also been preserved.
DAY 1, DEPART WASHINGTON TO VIENNA: Depart USA for an overnight flight to Vienna. Dinner and breakfast are served on board.
DAY 2, ARRIVAL VIENNA: Welcome to Vienna, one of the most beautifully preserved cities in Europe. After arrival, you will be transported to your hotel for check-in. Celebrate Holy Mass, followed by free time to rest and settle in.
DAY 3, VIENNA: Celebrate Mass in St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Following Mass, start a sightseeing tour of Vienna, featuring a panoramic tour of the famous ring, walk of the old town and some major monuments such as Donners Fountain, Belvedere Palace and Hofburg Palace. Enjoy free time for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Imperial Palace of Schoenbrunn, with its adjacent buildings and vast gardens. The attractiveness of the palace lies in its largely original interior from the 18th century, as well as in the baroque garden landscape which remains scarcely altered.
DAY 4, VIENNA – MARIAZELL – VIENNA: Travel to Mariazell, the famed Shrine of Our Lady of Mariazell, the most-visited Marian Shrine in central Europe. Mariazell is nestled high in the alpine mountains of Austria, offering a breathtaking view of the imposing alps. Celebrate Mass at The Basilica. Return to Vienna, where the rest of the day is at leisure. Enjoy dinner tonight at a typical local heurigen restaurant.
DAY 5, VIENNA – MELK ABBEY – MARIA TAFAREL - SALZBURG: Leave Vienna and drive to the Melk Abbey and the Stiftskirche, one of the finest baroque buildings in the world. Melk has been a spiritual and cultural center of the country for more than 1000 years, first as a castle for the Babenbergs, then from 1089 as a Benedictine Monastery, founded by Margrave Leopold II. Celebrate Mass. Continue to Durenstein to visit the little village on the banks of the Danube River, before continuing to visit The Shrine of Maria Tafer. Built in 1660, the shrine is the most important pilgrimage destination in all of Austria. This afternoon we arrive in Salzburg.
DAY 6, SALZBURG – HALLEIN SALT MINES – SALZBURG: Celebrate Mass at the Shrine of Maria Plain. Afterwards visit the famous Salt Mines at Hellein including its many man made tunnels. The Hellein Salt Mines are among the oldest salt mines in the world. More than 2,500 years ago, the celts were already mining this precious gift of the mountain. Return to Salzburg for some free time.
DAY 7, SALZBURG: This morning visit the lovely Salzburg, including a visit to the fortress above the city, as well as Mozart’s house. Stop to see the statue of the Christ of Loreto, celebrate Mass, and then continue with visits to The Domplatz, The Salzburg Cathedral, St. Peter’s Abbey (the oldest monastery in the German speaking world), Franziskanerkirche and the Getreidegasse Lane. In the afternoon, relive the true story of the Von Trapp family in the ‘Sound of Music’ movie. See the highlights and film locations such as the Palace of Leopoldskron, The Gazebo at the Palace of Hellbrunn, The Abbey of Nonnberg, St. Gilgen/Lake Wolfgang and the Collegiate Church of Mondsee.
DAY 8, SALZBURG – PRACHATICE –PRAGUE: Depart for a scenic motorcoach ride to Prague. On the way, stop in Prachatice and visit the Neumann residence, Prachatice Museum, St. James Church and the Church of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and celebrate Mass. Enjoy some time at leisure for lunch, before proceeding to Prague. Check-in at the hotel and evening at leisure.
DAY 9, PRAGUE: Situated on the Vltava River, Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Prague, which will include visits to The Strahov Monastery, The Loreto Shrine (celebrate Mass), Prague Castle District, St. Vitus Cathedral and St. George Basilica. On the way to the castle, pray the Stations of the Cross. Free time for lunch. This afternoon we will make our way across the Charles Bridge to see the market square, the famous astronomical clock, which comes alive when the hour strikes, Powder Tower and St. Wenceslas Square. Enjoy some free time for shopping and personal activities.
DAY 10, PRAGUE: Visit the Church of Our Lady Victorious, celebrate Mass and pray at the renowned statue of The Infant Jesus of Prague. In the afternoon, partake in a 2 hour cruise of the Vltava River. The cruise tour will start and end at The Pier under Cechuv Bridge, features unusual picturesque views of Prague, Cechuv Bridge, Charles Bridge and a panoramic view of Prague Castle and Vysehrad. Lunch will be served aboard the ship. This evening enjoy folklore show and dinner at local restaurant.
DAY 11, FLIGHT PRAGUE TO USA: Transfer to the airport for flight home. Although the pilgrimage is ending, the beauty of the magnificent places visited, the friendships, blessings and graces will last a lifetime.