Parish Pilgrimage to Rome & Assisi 2th October to 2nd November 2014

Twenty-three intrepid pilgrims assembled in the church car park on Monday 27th of October at 6am and boarded the coach for Heathrow Airport. Our pilgrimage had begun!

We were blessed with excellent weather throughout with barely a drop of rain. Our hotel in Rome was close to St Peter’s  and over the next four days we visited St Peter’s Basilica, St Paul Outside the Walls and many of the notable churches and places of interest including the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.

On Wednesday morning we were in a very large crowd in St Peter’s Square for the Papal Audience. Pope Francis appeared in relaxed and friendly form and many of the pilgrims saw him close to hand in his Popemobile. Unfortunately he didn’t pass close by us but his presence was evident from the screens around the square.  Our parish was formally welcomed over the public address system!

Every day Fr Tom celebrated Mass for the group mostly on a private basis which was a wonderful experience for us all. Among the churches where Mass was celebrated was the Irish Chapel in St Peter’s Basilica and St Anne's Church just inside the Vatican City, along with other local churches in Rome. While in Rome we also visited the church of San Clemente with its underground remains of previous churches and Roman dwellings.

On Friday the 31st of October we departed by coach to Assisi. When we last visited Assisi it was quiet and a contrast to the hustle and bustle of Rome. This time the town itself was lively with street markets and music, which was very atmospheric.

We visited the basilicas of St Francis and St Clare as well as the Franciscan monastery of St Damian, where we were given a most interesting talk by a monk from Northern Ireland about the history of the monastery still used by the Franciscan Friars today. He came as a tourist some seventeen years ago and stayed.

On our last day Sunday November 2nd we visited Orvieto and its wonderful Cathedral. Our visit coincided with the Eucharistic Jubilee year of the Diocese which finishes at the end of November 2014. We followed the pilgrim route and were able to see two chapels not normally open to the public, one of which displays a miraculous host from medieval times.

The pilgrimage involved a fair amount of walking up and down some fairly steep gradients. Most of us come back a little slimmer and fitter!

There were many other highlights and every day had something of interest to take in and appreciate. Mgr Tom Egan was a wonderful spiritual leader. We prayed for the parish intentions during the pilgrimage.

We were fortunate to have Sinead Howe as our guide. She was unfailingly helpful, cheerful and knowledgeable throughout. The pilgrimage group was a very harmonious one. New friendships were made and we hope to meet up gain to renew the experience of the pilgrimage together in the near future.

Patrick Bolger
Pilgrimage Organiser