Going on a pilgrimage is one of the most ancient and traditional means of deepening one’s faith. On this journey we will be praying, feasting and enjoying the many sights and experiences of ancient and contemporary France, Spain and Portugal.
We will visit religious sights where we will have the opportunity to express our devotion to the Blessed Mother. We will celebrate Mass at various Marian Shrines that include Lourdes in France where she appeared to St. Bernadette and Fatima in Portugal where she appeared to Blessed Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia 100 years ago.
We look forward to each other’s company as we celebrate our faith and enrich our understanding and appreciation of these special places associated with Mary, the Mother of God, and Christ’s disciples. This will be a great opportunity and privilege for us to journey together as part of our faith community.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Your pilgrimage begins today as you depart on your flight to Portugal.
After a morning arrival in Lisbon, you will meet your Holy Land Travel Center representative, who in addition to the priests accompanying your pilgrimage, will be with you throughout your stay. Drive north to Fatima, one of the world’s most important Marian Shrines and an important center for pilgrimages. Time permitting, we will make a stop in Santarem for Mass at the Church of St. Stephen, famous for its venerated relic, “the Bleeding Host” en route from Lisbon to Fatima.
As in most small villages in the early years of the century, the parish church was the center of life and faith in Fatima. It was here that the three children were baptized and Lucy made her first confession at six years of age. The kindly priest who heard her confession told her to consecrate herself to the Blessed Virgin and she immediately did this in front of the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. The following day she took Holy Communion for the first time. Jacinta also frequently came here to pray. Once on the feast of the Ascension, the Blessed Virgin appeared and asked them to pray the rosary every day and ask for world peace. After Mass at the Chapel of the Apparitions, visit the Basilica to see the site of Francisco and Jacinta’s graves and the village where the three children lived. Continue to Valinhos where Our Lady appeared to the children following their release. This evening, participate in the Stations of the Cross along the Via Sacre, site of the first Apparition.
Depart Fatima this morning and drive north to Porto where we will visit the soaring Cathedral and admire the richly decorated Church of Sao Francisco. Then proceed to Braga which contains over 300 churches and is the religious center of Portugal. Our sightseeing here will include visits to Braga’s Sé Cathedral which is the oldest in Portugal and the Bom Jesus do Monte which is an important pilgrimage shrine. Then continue on to Santiago de Compostela. Tradition tells us that St. James the Apostle journeyed to Spain in 40 A.D. to spread the Gospel as far as possible. He died a martyr’s death after returning to Jerusalem and his remains were eventually returned to Spain and buried in this city.
This morning we will enjoy a complete tour of Santiago de Compostela. Visit the impressive Cathedral which is considered to be one of the finest pieces of architecture in Europe. After Mass, climb up the stairs behind the altar to visit the crypt, where a silver urn contains the relics of St. James. See the Portico de la Gloria (Gateway to Heaven), an unparalleled masterpiece. Walk to the top of the Cathedral for a panoramic view of this glorious city. We will also visit the museum in the cloister adjoining the Cathedral. (Option: For those with the stamina you can walk the last 9 miles of the Camino on your own today taking in the pilgrimage of all those who have travelled on the Camino for centuries.)
This morning we drive to Oviedo, the capital of Asturias region. Here we will visit the Cathedral which houses the tombs of Asturian kings and the Camara Santa, a restored 9th century chapel containing expressive statues of Christ and the Apostles. After Mass we head to Garabandal before we continue to Santander, the capital of the Cantabria region.
This morning we will depart Santander and drive to Loyola, the hometown of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. Here you will visit the Basilica and the tower house where he was born and lived. After Mass, depart San Sebastian and drive across the Spanish-French border to Lourdes, one of the great pilgrimage shrines in the world. It was here where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette in 1858 proclaiming herself the “Immaculate Conception”. This evening we will participate in the Blessed Sacrament Procession and the Candlelight Procession.
You have all day to experience the special atmosphere of this beautiful town. Attend Mass at the Grotto of Massabielle, visit the Basilica of St. Pius X, see the house where Bernadette lived during the Apparitions, and visit several of the sites where miraculous cures have taken place. After dinner, join the candlelight procession.
Today is free for personal activities.
Depart Lourdes and drive over the Pyrenees to Andorra la Vella and view Romanesque churches and stone houses in the city’s quarter along with a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Meritxell. Continue on to Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia and explore the colorful markets of Las Ramblas before transferring to our hotel.
After breakfast we will enjoy a panoramic tour of Barcelona including panoramic views of the harbor area, Montjuic, Plaza de Espana and Plaza de Catalunya. We will then visit Barcelona Cathedral followed by a visit to Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, a magnificent, unfinished Roman Catholic basilica of impressive proportions. We will continue on to the Tibidabo Hill where we will visit the Church of the Sacred Heart and see a statue of Christ whose extended arms overlooking Barcelona reminds one of Rio de Janeiro.
This morning we will travel outside of Barcelona to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montserrat, the spiritual heart of Catalonia and home to a dramatically set Benedictine monastery. For 700 years this Marian shrine has attracted thousands of pilgrims from around the world. We pause here to visit the Black Madonna of Montserrat, probably Spain’s most fervent devotion to the Blessed Mother. Return to Barcelona with the remainder of the afternoon free. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
This morning we will transfer to the airport to catch our return flight home.