Project Description

“‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given’: he is the ‘Prince of Peace.’ Let us welcome him!” -Pope Francis

Signature Christmas in Italy Pilgrimage 

December 18 – 27, 2021

Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages are different from all other tours and pilgrimages.  We craft a daily itinerary which creates a fabric woven of spiritual, historical and personal elements — the personalities of great saints, the personalities of those we encounter and the personalities of our pilgrims with everything they bring from their lives and their faith journeys.  Our pilgrimages, therefore, are unique, unrepeatable experiences. Our Signature pilgrimages — small, private groups averaging 15 pilgrims — are impossible to mass produce.  They are like a product of an artisan, a work of art that reflects the painstaking commitment of an artist to create something of great and unique beauty.   To learn more about our Signature Pilgrimages click on the button below.

signature pilgrimages

Join us for on this Signature Pilgrimage for an extraordinary journey to Rome and Assisi at Christmas for a peaceful and joyful time, in the places where St. Francis, St. Benedict and St. Peter walked and bore their witness to the Gospel!

Christmas in Italy 2021 is one of our Signature line pilgrimages which aims to create “boutique” pilgrimage experiences though small, private groups averaging 15 pilgrims, but never more than 18.

“Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy!” (Luke 2:10)

Christmas is a wonderful time to be in Rome. The entire city seems to light up with a special joy, and there is even more peace throughout the city than usual. Little red and white lights flicker on kiosks set up in the lovely Piazza Navona, and the Vatican erects a larger-than-life manger scene in St. Peter’s Square, right next to the ancient obelisk at its center. Roman grandparents stroll with their grandchildren through the piazzas and streets of Rome to look at the nativity scenes and little displays of local hand crafted toys and other gifts. We will join them. People throughout Rome tend to be more courteous to one another “in the spirit of the season,” and the entire city can actually seem to become a small village. We, too, will become “Roman villagers” at Christmas.

Throughout Italy, every church constructs a presepio (or presepe) — a Nativity tableau which may even include “living” crèche scenes with real people and animals — ranging from charmingly simple to stunningly elaborate. Some include hills, trees, lakes, rivers, angels suspended by wires, the Christmas star and reproductions of an entire village or the countryside of Bethlehem. Always, the straw-filled manger remains empty until the night of Natale — the birth of Christ.

Christmas time is also a special time to visit Assisi. St. Francis of Assisi began the Christian tradition of the manger scene by creating the very first one, with live people and animals, in the nearby town of Greccio. In Assisi, a beautiful life-size manger scene is displayed each Christmas in front of St. Francis’ Basilica.

assisi san francesco christmas time

Pilgrimage Overview

December 18 – 27, 2021

  • Spend four (4) nights inside the Vatican at the Casa Bonus Pastor;  three (3) nights at Hotel Giotto in Assisi; and one (1) night at the Rome Airport Hilton in Rome
  • Meet and dine with Dr. Robert Moynihan, leading Vatican analyst and founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, Deborah Tomlinson, Chief Operating Officer, and friends of Inside the Vatican magazine

Days 1 and 2 – Vatican City

  •  Attend Mass and confessions at St. Peter’s Basilica
  •  Participate in a prayer consecrating our pilgrimage at a special altar to Our Lady located in the basilica
  •  Prepare for Christmas with a special Advent Retreat
  •  Meet Vatican monsignors, and perhaps even an archbishop or cardinal, in their apartments, to understand better the Church today and to reflect on the meaning of Christmas
  • Enjoy a walking tour of Baroque Rome led by Dr. Moynihan, visiting the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Basilica of St. Augustine, the Piazza Navona to view six Caravaggio paintings and the Madonna Del Popolo, the miraculous image of Our Lady painted by St. Luke
  • Visit the Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, where Our Lady appeared to Alphonse Ratisbonne as she appears on the Miraculous Medal

Days 3, 4 and 5 –  Rome

  • Visit and pray in three of the major Basilicas of Rome: St Mary Major, St Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls and St. John Lateran
  • Tour the Churches of Sts. Prassedes and Pudentiana, the latter being the first papal residence and the site of a Eucharistic Miracle
  • Visit the Church of Three Fountains, St. Sebastian’s and the Domino Quo Vadis church and learn of their importance in the lives of Sts. Peter and Paul.
  • Visit the lofty Victorian-gothic church of San Alfonso and venerate The Miraculous Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help
  • Venerate and/or ascend on your knees the Holy Stairs near the Basilica of St. John Lateran
  • Visit Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, the church containing relics of the Passion from Jerusalem
  • Travel along the Appian Way
  • Visit the site of a Marian apparition, the Grotto of Our Lady of Revelations
  • Attend the Papal Audience as a guest of Inside the Vatican magazine
Pilgrimage Information and Online Booking

Day 6 – Orvieto to Assisi

  • Visit Orvieto Cathedral, site of a Eucharistic Miracle
  • Travel through the scenic regions of Lazio and Umbria

Day 7 – Assisi (Day Trips to Norcia and Cascia)

  • Spend a half day in Norcia and dine in one of Italy’s most distinguished culinary towns
  • Visit the town where St. Benedict and his twin sister, St. Scholastica, were born in 480 A.D.
  • Visit the new monastery of the Benedictine monks of Norcia, on the mountain outside the city
  • Listen to reflections on Advent given by Father Cassian Folsom, OSB, prior emeritus and founder of the restored Benedictine monastery 
  • Visit Cascia and venerate the incorrupt body of St. Rita in the Basilica of St. Rita

Days 8 and 9 – Assisi – Merry Christmas!

  • Attend Christmas Mass at the tomb of St. Francis and enjoy a Christmas feast prepared by one of the finest chefs in Assisi
  • Meet with the Bishop of Assisi for a private spiritual Christmas reflection
  • Visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and St. Francis’ Portiuncula
  • Visit the Basilica of St. Clare and pray at her tomb
  • Meet some of our Franciscan friends in Assisi
  • Attend Mass in the Church of St. Stephen on this saint’s feast day
  • View a re-enactment of a living Nativity scene in Greccio, where St. Francis staged the first ever living nativity in 1223.