My dear friends in Saint Philomena
I would like to recommend two very special groups who are bringing pilgrimages to the Sanctuary this year, as soon as next month.
The first group is sponsored by Inside the Vatican magazine. The accommodation for this pilgrimage is actually located inside Vatican City, close to the religious who work there. You will have access through the back entrance of the Vatican on your way to private tours, dinners and masses. Only 15 pilgrims will have this rare and blessed experience. This tour includes a rare and exclusive visit to the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena here in Mugnano del Cardinale, Italy.
The second tour celebrates and commemorates the 25th Priesthood Anniversaries of two special priests. Fr. Kenneth Brighenti (Vice Rector of Mount Saint Mary Seminary) and Fr. John Trigilio, Jr. (President, Confraternity of Catholic Clergy). Their tour encompasses amazing scenic and spiritual sites in Southern Italy: Imagine – the Abbey at Montecassino, the Shrine of Saint Philomena at Mugnano, the tombs of Priscilla in Rome, Pompeii, Padre Pio's hospital, the Amalfi coast! And more, with knowledgeable guides, wonderful Italian food and relaxing accommodations.
I look forward to meeting with you, each and every one, individually, soon in the celebration of Holy Mass here at the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena where the Sacred Body of Saint Philomena can be found.
Blessings from the Sacred Altar of Saint Philomena
Msgr. Giovanni Braschi
Rector of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
This year, Inside the Vatican magazine will be organizing four very special Inside the Vatican pilgrimages to the "heart" of the Church for the Year of Faith. I founded Inside the Vatican magazine 20 years ago and have had the privilege of getting to know the Vatican and some very interesting people. Our first pilgrimage will begin soon, in about three weeks. This "pre-Lenten" pilgrimage still has a couple of places left open. If one or two of you would like to join us for several days "inside the Vatican," please consider joining this or one of the other three pilgrimages. It will be a chance for me to introduce you personally to Vatican City, and to discuss over several days, including with a number of Vatican officials, some of the important ecclesial and societal matters of concern to all of us.
So I would like to personally invite you to consider joining me and a small group of pilgrims, less than 15, for a very special pilgrimage to Italy just before Ash Wednesday. This pre-Lenten pilgrimage will in a sense be a preparation for Lent, at the heart of the Church, near the tomb of Saint Peter, inside the Vatican itself. This pilgrimage will focus on the Holy See, the city of Rome, and, last but not least, on Saint Philomena.
Why Saint Philomena? Well, first, because she is a powerful intercessor for those who pray to her. Many Popes were devoted to Saint Philomena.
“Pray to Saint Philomena, whatever you ask from her, she will obtain for you.”
—Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846)
Each of our “Friends of Inside the Vatican Magazine” pilgrimages is planned to be peaceful and prayerful. This is a key point: although we will visit many very special places, our journey is a true religious pilgrimage, not an ordinary vacation tour. The spiritual dimension, the search for a deeper understanding of our faith and of the history and life of the Church, is central. This is why the pace of our pilgrimages is slow, not rushed, and there is time to reflect and to pray.
So, please consider joining me on this meditative, prayerful pilgrimage to the places of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Philomena, and close to Pope Benedict XVI.
founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine
Pam Sielaff of Saint Philomena Catholic Books / Holy Ground Café, Emmitsburg, Maryland, United States and Fr. Kenneth Brighenti, Ph. D, are happy to present to you their pilgrimage planned for May 2013.
Father, who will be your spiritual leader throughout this journey, is Vice-rector of Mt. Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and is co-host of EWTN's “Crash Courses” and author of many of the “Dummies” series books.
This trip will be a spiritual as well as a cultural adventure through South Central Italy. We certainly hope you can join us! The trip will be run and managed by “Fratelli & Company Group Travel”, NJ, (908) 766-8994 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information or a detailed brochure, please leave your name and address with Pam at the bookstore or call her at (301) 447-3833 or email at email@example.com. You can also call Fr. Brighenti at (301) 447-5209 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day 1 – USA to Rome. We depart on the evening flight from (BWI or Dulles TBA) International Airport for our trans-Atlantic flight to Rome. Dinner and entertainment aloft. Breakfast served before arrival.
Day 2 – Rome to Sorrento via Montecassino. This morning we arrive in Rome's Leonardo da Vinci International Airport. Upon exiting the terminal (after baggage claim and customs) we meet our motor-coach and driver for our journey southward on the Autostrada del Sole. En route to our home base of Sorrento, we will stop to see the magnificent Abbey of Monte Cassino, begun in the 6 century A.D. by Saint Benedict. Today this abbey and many others throughout the world are still run and staffed by the Benedictine order. The main altar of the church is built directly over the tombs of the twin brother and sister Saints Benedict and Scholastica. The abbey: world renowned for the battles which took place here during World War II, was completely leveled by American aerial bombs, but through the efforts of the Italians, the Americans and Catholics throughout the world, the abbey has been rebuilt and restored almost stone for stone. Even the priceless frescos which once adorned the walls and ceiling have been replicated. As we proceed to our destination and hotel, we will continue south along the main highway passing under the awesome shadow of Mount Vesuvius. As we approach the heart of the Campania region, we are about to enter one of the most beautiful and picturesque coastlines of Europe, overlooking the fabled Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula. After check-in and time to relax we can take a leisurely walk to familiarize us with this quaint city. This evening is free to stroll its busy streets, lined with hundreds of shops, boutiques and cafés. Tonight's dinner (included) will be in our hotel and overnight in Sorrento.
Day 3 – Shrine of Saint Philomena, Mugnano del Cardinale, Avellino. Today we depart after breakfast for the city of Mugnano del Cardinale in the province of Avellino, about an hour's drive. Here we will visit the city and the magnificent shrine dedicated to this miraculous saint. There will be time for mass and devotions as well as private time to absorb the spirituality of this holy site. There will be time for lunch (on your own) as well as some free time to meander through this village. Saint Philomena is venerated as a virgin martyr saint of the Catholic Church. She is said to have been a young Greek princess martyred in the 4th century. Her veneration began in the early 19th century after the archaeological discovery in the Catacombs of Priscilla of the bones of a young woman. These bones were interpreted as those of a martyr. Nothing else was known about her, but an inscription found at the tomb indicated that her name was (in the Latin) Filumena; corresponding to the English name Philomena. The remains were removed to Mugnano del Cardinale in 1805 and became the focus of widespread devotion. Several miracles were credited to the saint’s intercession, including the healing of Venerable Pauline Jaricot in 1835, which received wide publicity. Saint Jean Vianney attributed to her intercession the extraordinary cures that others attributed to him. Accounts of her life and martyrdom circulated quickly. Later today we return to Sorrento for dinner (included) and overnight.
Day 4 – Naples – the Cathedral of Naples / Burial place of Saint Janarius (San Gennaro). We will visit the legendary city of Naples to see the Cathedral and burial place of San Gennaro, patron of this region of Italy. San Gennaro is invoked for the protection of the population against the wrath of Vesuvius. There will also be a scenic tour of the city and time to visit the famous Church of Santa Chiara along with the Spanish Quarter, famous for the production of the Neapolitan Cresce. A pizza lunch (included) is in order today in view of the fact that “pizza” was invented in this famous city. There will be a gentle walk through the Galleria, Piazza del Plebescito and a look at the San Carlo opera house. Tonight we return to Sorrento for dinner (on your own) and overnight.
Day 5 – Pompeii – the Excavations / Basilica of Our Lady of Pompeii. Today we embark on an historical as well as a spiritual journey to the remarkable and extraordinary city of Pompeii. Pompeii lay 2,000 years under ashes and lava after being destroyed by Mount Vesuvius. Here we can marvel at the advanced culture of this Roman city and the Pompeian citizens. The baths, the homes, the market place, and the gardens were all remarkably preserved under the lava. Just a short ride from the excavations we continue on to visit the beautiful Basilica of Our Lady of Pompeii with its miraculous painting of Our Lady handing the Most Holy Rosary to Saints Catherine and Dominic. Here there will be time for mass and private time for devotions. Dinner (included) and overnight will be in Sorrento.
Day 6 – Saint (Padre) Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. Today begins with a very early departure to the Gargano in the region of Puglia. San Giovanni Rotondo is where this contemporary miracle worker Francesco Forgione spent most of his life as a monk, building this city from a hamlet. We will begin with a guided visit to the Shrine of Saint Pio, the Gallery of Saint Pio and the Casa Sollievo Soffrenza; the hospital he built for the poor. After mass there will be time to visit Padre Pio's tomb. Later in the day we will return to Sorrento for dinner (included) and overnight.
Day 7 – Time to rest! / The Amalfi Coast Drive. After a rigorous week of touring and traveling, everyone will look forward to a day of relaxation. We can begin our day a little later! After a late breakfast we will embark on one of the most memorable days of the trip, “La Costiera Amalfitana”, the Amalfi Coast Drive. We travel south from the Bay of Sorrento to the Bay of Salerno along the Mediterranean. We will experience the most spectacular and scenic coastal drives in all of Europe, if not the world! The 40 mile trek of cliff roads consists of over 1,000 curves and turns, each one with a new and fantastic view of the mountains, which seem to lean down to kiss the crystal clear turquoise sea below. There will be panoramic stops along the way for photos. Our main stop today will be in Amalfi, a beautiful seaport city, once an ancient Empire, with its magnificent Arab/Norman Cathedral of Saint Andrew's (9th – 12th Century). The cathedral houses the relic of the head of Saint Andrew taken in the sack of Constantinople in 1204. There will be some free time for lunch (on your own), shopping and meandering in this beautiful seaside village. Dinner (included) and overnight is in Sorrento.
Day 8 – Monte Vergine / Saint Gerard Maiella. We return again to the Apennine hills of Avellino to visit two famous shrines. We begin with a visit to the abbey of Monte Vergine. The monastery chapel contains an ancient Byzantine picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, said to have come originally from Antioch. The dark features of the Blessed Virgin standing out from a background of bright gold have won for it the name of "Schiavona" from peasants and pilgrims. The story says that the head of the picture was cut from its frame by Baldwin, the Latin Emperor of Jerusalem, to save it from desecration. It was found among his possessions by his grand-niece Catherine of Valois (who is buried in the chapel), and that she gave it to Monte Vergine. The lower portion of the picture as it exists in the shrine was added at a later date by the artist Montana di Arezzo. Dinner (included) and overnight will be in Sorrento.
Day 9 – Sorrento to Rome / Catacomb of Priscilla Today we depart Sorrento and the region of Campania and head north to the Eternal city of Rome. Upon arrival in Rome we will check into our hotel and have some time to freshen and reorganize before heading out in the afternoon to our first site. How fitting today to visit an ancient Roman catacomb. The cemetery of Priscilla enjoys the fame of being one of the most ancient and primordial of the Roman Church. This catacomb of Priscilla just outside the northern walls of Rome ties into the original purpose of our pilgrimage. This is the burial place where the remains of Saint Philomena were found in May of 1802 with the inscription pax tecum Filumena (“Peace with you, Philomena”). This ancient catacomb also houses probably the oldest art form of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the world, dating back to the 2nd century AD. This evening's dinner (included) and overnight will be in Rome.
Day 10 – Rome What a spiritual and wonderful way to end this journey by attending Sunday morning mass at Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City! After breakfast we depart for the Vatican and will attend the 10:30 mass. Immediately following, we will assemble in the square to wait for the Holy Father's appearance at the Papal apartment window for the Sunday noon recitation of the “Angelus” and Blessing to all present in the Square. Then, a tour of the Basilica. The balance of the afternoon is free until we gather again this evening for a “farewell dinner” (included) with wine and music in a Roman Cantina.
Day 11 – Departure Rome / USA. We bid a fond farewell to Rome as we depart for Fiumecino International Airport for our voyage back to the USA, following a wonderful pilgrimage and cultural visit of southern Italy. We arrive home in the afternoon. Meals aloft. Time and flight number to be announced.
Fratelli & Company Group Travel Consultants
P. O. Box 479
Bernardsville, NJ 07924
Tel/Fax (908) 766-8994