Pilgrimage Stories from Italy

We enjoyed the pilgrimage, it is most enlightening and also it has a relaxed atmosphere”
Teresita & Maud

“Fabulous, very spiritual, enhancing. The Sanctuary was the best place second to my home. The group was great, everyone friendly and for the Pilgrimage Director (Marie) one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, God Bless her and her family and everybody else. Wonderful pilgrimage, I’ll do it again, defiantly!”

My Dear Friends through St Philomena,

We began our first day in Lanciano with a great breakfast and headed to the Shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle where we met up with a group from the USA.

What a wonderful way to begin the pilgrimage, the priest celebrated an intensely spiritual mass and they had a great choir. We all felt so moved by the whole experience as we headed to San Giovanni Rotundo to the Shrine of St. Pio. We stopped along the way for breaks. The service stations throughout Southern Italy sell local produce from the surrounding areas and so we were able to purchase wines from Abruzzo as well as other local produce. We recited the Holy Rosary on our journeys to these Holy places throughout the pilgrimage.

“The trips were very well done. Fantastic!”

We arrived at San Giovanni Rotundo on a very sunny day to board mini-buses which took us to the basilica where we went our separate ways. We could choose to visit the tomb of the Padre or visit the church where he celebrated Mass, or the tour the places he lived. The cells of Padre Pio include a very large, particular spiritual crucifix where the Padre would pray on his knees. All the locations at the Basilica held a spiritual experience for each visitor. Even having devotional items blessed included a prayer as the holy water was sprinkled on the devotional items and on us! When Padre Pio heard confessions he sent the confessors to say their penance at Monte San Angelo which is situated close to San Giovanni Rotundo.

We headed up the twists and turns on the white rock mountain to the consecrated ground where the Archangel Michael appeared several times. It is always such a joy for me personally to visit this place. As you head down the many stairs of the cave you can feel your heart race the closer you get to the place where this great Archangel appeared. We entered while novena prayers and vespers for the Feast of St. Michael were taking place. I got the consecration prayer for everyone in the group and asked the priest to bless them. We consecrated ourselves to the Archangel Michael and asked for his continued protection and for our sins to be forgiven. In the shop downstairs we found the lady of the shop who has worked there for 34 years helping and advising everyone. The smile on her face reflects her devotion to our St. Michael. I had reserved three masses, including one for all priests and another for all members of the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena.

Sunday, September 21st

Shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle
St. Pio at San Giovanni Rotundo
After Service in Santa Maria Della Grazie  
Padre Pio before the large crucifix
St Michael at Monte San Angelo and the Cave St. Michael appeared 

As we headed in our coach to the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena, we watched the one of the many DVDs of the Holy places we had visited that day and quietly contemplated how these three Shrines are great earthly gifts from God to show and demonstrate the meaning of our faith.

When we arrived at the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena some couldn’t walk past the Altar of the Sacred Body of Saint Philomena without falling to their knees in prayer. The rooms were assigned and we went to the dining room for our dinner. This meal was most welcome after our long day of pilgrimage. Everyone was ready for a good rest and the new day of tomorrow to begin.

“A fabulous introduction to Italy. A huge privilege to see the Holy Father. It was spiritually satisfying to pray to Saint Philomena at her altar. A pilgrimage which is a must for all to make.”

We began our first morning in the Sanctuary with Holy mass at the sacred Altar of Saint Philomena, recited the special intention prayer of the Sanctuary and had a lovely breakfast before heading to Sorrento for a relaxing day at the sea. The sun shone, the shopping began and many went to visit the island of Capri. I spent most of the day at the beach with our 13-year old young ladies who had been given special permission to join us. Filumena (my daughter) and her friend, Cara, were to write a report, give a presentation and document their journey in order for the school to have a special pilgrimage next year. They were delighted at having a swim in the sea! A great day out was enjoyed by all and gave us the rest we needed to continue to the next two days in Rome. Our evening meal at the Sanctuary was enlivened with everyone’s stories of their day’s adventure.

Monday, September 22nd


“Superb! Enjoyed every minute of it. Very moving and spiritual!”
Elizabeth and Hugh

Tuesday started early as we headed up to Monte Cassino to St. Benedict’s Monastery. We had a guided tour of the old part of the monastery which had not been destroyed and to the room where St. Benedict lived and wrote the rule of St. Benedict. This room has been turned into a chapel. We were then led out to a rock on which St. Benedict was said to fall, after which the rock moulded to his shape. We all had to try this out by sitting on it and see that it conformed very comfortably to our shapes! We headed upstairs to the new part of the Monastery and on to the church and the Altar of the Sacred Body’s St. Benedict and his twin sister St. Scholastica. What an incredible church with marble similar to that of the Sanctuary of St. Philomena but with gold all around the edge and on the ceiling. The views and history of this place are truly amazing. St. Benedict protect us!

Tuesday, September 23rd
Wednesday, September 24th

St. Benedicts Monastery at Montecassino  
St. Benedicts Bedroom 
Hotel Princess Rome 



After taking up too much time in awe of this wonderful place we headed to Rome and the Hotel Princess were we had stayed several years ago. We freshened up and headed for the Basilica of St. Mary Major which holds the true crib of Jesus. This is a truly special place. Some of us attended confession with a very spiritual priest before heading to see Rome by night. We went to Piazza Navona where we had a great meal and many laughs as we all tried the Limoncella!

The day we had been anticipating arrived and our Papal audience with Pope Francis. An early rise for breakfast as the rain poured down on us and we headed for St. Peter’s square. We bought up the overpriced rain ponchos from the street vendors and sat in the rain to wait. The moment Pope Francis arrived, the rain stopped! We all turned into children standing on seats and cheering at actually seeing him for real. It was an incredible high of our journey so far. After reciting the Our Father in Latin, he blessed us. Any who were burdened with cares within them knew that this blessing was to push them to the surface. Tears came flooding as we spoke about situations and ways to handle them in the middle of St. Peters square. Those who had been feeling frail felt well and energized. The Pope’s blessing gave us all an incredible feeling of joy.

We then went our separate ways and met up for our tour of the Basilicas with our guide for the day. Her name was Gloria and she provided such detailed information. We visited St. Paul outside the Wall, St. John Lateran, the Santa Scalla and the Church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem. We were all happy to rest on the coach as we travelled back to the Sanctuary of St. Philomena. The Sanctuary now felt like home to us, with the welcome of the Rector at the doors greeting us and the smell of wonderful Italian cooking drifting through the corroders and down the stairs.

“Pilgrimage delivered everything it promised and some more. Thank you”
Hugh and Annabelle

On Thursday we headed to Pompeii for a beautiful Mass in Our Lady of the Rosary where we recited the Rosary after Mass. Then out in the sun for some ice cream and a little shopping. We headed back to the sanctuary for lunch. It had been a bit cloudy and rained on and off through the afternoon, so our trip to Vesuvius was cancelled. Instead, we visited the old town of Salerno and then onto the big shopping center for more retail therapy and gifts to take home. It was a good day and a bit less hectic than the previous two.

Thursday, September 25th


“A very good and spiritual pilgrimage, would like to do it again”

Friday took us to the shrine of St. Gerard Majella with breathtaking views from the mountain and a gained a true understanding of this very understated Saint. We returned to the Sanctuary for lunch and Mass. After the celebration of holy mass we had the hairdresser come to the lounge area of the pilgrim’s house for those who requested her service. We all got dressed up and went out on the town. An evening in the Bay of Naples was the plan, but first we detoured to see the church of St. Gennaro. The road was closed so we travelled up the hills of Naples through some antique areas, some poor and some rich areas to finally see the unforgettable views of the Bay of Naples by night. Driving down the mountain we headed to the Castle of Eggs where, at the side, there is a pathway toward the sea to many bars and restaurants where we were serenaded as we ordered our food! A great way to finish the week!

Friday, September 26th

Saint Gerard Majella for Mass

Saint Gennaro Patron Saint of Naples

Tour of Bay of Naples and a choice of bars and restaurants

“A wonderful spiritual experience. Please God we will return soon. We are very grateful to Marie, our leader, and her helpers. Thank you!”
Lance and Jemima

Saturday morning arrived all too quickly and our last Mass of the pilgrimage was at the Altar of the Sacred Body of St. Philomena. Annabelle and Hugh were asked to kneel and receive a blessing for their 40th wedding anniversary. The Rector quite spontaneously blessed them with the oil of St. Philomena. They were surprised and delighted as this trip was their celebration for their 40 year union. Another pilgrim celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary but was called home and could not stay for the full pilgrimage, congratulations to Stephen and his wife also. The booking of this pilgrimage inspired another union with an engagement. We got back on the coach and the Rector blessed all our devotional items and we headed back to Rome.

 Saturday, September 27th

Mass at the Sanctuary and fond farewell to Italy
Please let us know if you would like us to organize your own pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of St. Philomena, we can help you. The 2015 UK and Ireland pilgrimage details are attached and there will be news of a pilgrimage open to the worldwide devotion coming to you soon. (See details below)

Family of Saint Philomena
Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena Worldwide Director

“I liked it all, I will come again”

“Very good and spiritual and informative. Family charged. Thank you very much for the opportunity”

“Good, my spiritual journey began with St. Philomena at my side”

“It was amazing. Very spiritual, very, very good!”

“Wonderful and spiritual, loved every minute of it”

“It was lovely to be in so many different places and shrines, all blessings”


Saturday – 22:00 coach departs for (approx 2hrs)
Overnight at 4 * HOTEL VILLA MEDICI, Lanciano
There will be a buffet and drinks upon arrival.

Sunday Breakfast 07:30 - 08:30am
08:30 depart for Shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle for a tour and Mass.
11:00 depart for (approx. 2hrs)
St. Pio at San Giovanni Rotundo no formal tour.
15:30 depart for (approx. 30mins) St Michael at Monte San Angelo and the Cave St. Michael appeared in.
17:30 depart for (approx. 2hrs) Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
20:15 evening prayers at the Altar of St. Philomena
20:30 evening meal in the dining room (refectory) 1st floor

Monday Breakfast 09:00 -10:00
08:30 Mass at the Altar of the Sacred Body of St. Philomena
10:00 depart for Sorrento
18:00 depart for Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
19:45 evening prayers at the Altar of St. Philomena
20:00 evening meal in the dining room on the 1st floor

Tuesday Breakfast 07:00 - 08:00
08:00 depart for (approx. 1hr)
St. Benedicts Monastery at Montecassino for Mass at 10:00
10:30 depart for (approx. 2hrs) Rome and Hotel Princess, Via Andrea Ferrara, 33, 00165 Roma
13:30 depart for Tour of St. Peters Basilica and the Basilicas of Rome
17:30 depart for Hotel Princess
18:30 depart for Tour of Rome by night and dinner
Return for Hotel Princess

Wednesday Breakfast 08:00 – 09:00
09:00 depart for Pope Francis Papal Audience at St. Peters Square Tour of the Basilicas of Rome
15:00 Catacombs of Priscilla for tour & visit of St. Philomena’s tomb
16:30 depart for (approx. 2hrs30) Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
19:45 evening prayers at the Altar of St. Philomena
20:00 evening meal in the dining room on the 1st flooR

Thursday Breakfast 08:00 – 09:00
09:00 depart for Pompeii and Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary
12:30 depart for Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
13:00 lunch in the dining room on the 1st floor
15:00 depart for Avellino the local town or visit to Vesuvius
19:30 Depart Avellino for Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
19:45 evening prayers at the Altar of St. Philomena
20:00 evening meal in the dining room on the 1st floor

Friday Breakfast 08:00 – 09:00
09:00 depart for Saint Gerard Majella for Mass
12:30 depart for Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
13:30 lunch in the dining room on the 1st floor
16:15 prayers at the Altar of St. Philomena
16:30 depart for Saint Gennaro Patron Saint of Naples Tour of Bay of Naples and a choice of bars and restaurants
22:00 depart for Sanctuary of Saint Philomena

Saturday Breakfast 09:00 – 10:00
08:30 Mass at the Altar of the Sacred Body of Saint Philomena
10:00 depart for Rome
15:00 depart England Flight for Ciampino Airport
18:00 depart Scotland flights for Ciampino Airport

Support the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena

The Sanctuary of Saint Philomena is not a parish Church. We do not have parishioners who support this place of worship on a weekly basis. We are completely dependent on the love and generosity of you, the world-wide devotees, to keep the doors of the earthly home of Saint Philomena open.

We pray at the Sanctuary for the devotees of Saint Philomena to recognize and provide the means to pay our monthly utilities of gas and electricity. We also pray for the means to install a lift at the Sanctuary to enable physically challenged pilgrims to experience the entire home of their beloved Saint.

In order to ensure the Sanctuary is able to keep our doors open to you and to continue to offer God continual praise and to be the focal point through which our prayers are received by Saint Philomena and interceded for before God at the Sanctuary, you may donate in the following ways:

  1. Direct to the Sanctuary:
    1. By personal check payable to the "Sanctuary of Saint Philomena." For security reasons, please send your donation through registered or express mail to the Sanctuary's address at the bottom of this newsletter.
    2. Online - Go to our Support Page, Click Here
    3. By bank transfer to the Sanctuary's Bank account: BANCA UNICREDIT MUGNANO DEL CARDINALE(30525) BANK ACCOUNT:N° 000400102946 SWIFT CODE:UNCRITM1E94 IBAN:IT18D0200875790000400102946
  2. U.S.A. Tax-Deductible Donations may be sent to the new non-profit set up in the United States:
    1. Online - Go to our Support Page, Click Here
    2. Postal mail donations can be made to: Saint Philomena Sanctuary Support Fund, Inc. P.O. Box 4114 Bergheim, Texas 78004, U.S.A.

Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
Piazza Umberto I
83027 Mugnano del Cardinale
Avellino, Italy
Tel: 0039 081 825 7204 Fax: 0039 081 511 2733
Rector, Msgr. Giovanni Braschi

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