The canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta on Sept. 4 is shaping up to be the hottest ticket in Rome since the installation of Pope Francis on March 19, 2013. The difference is Francis became pope just six days after his election.
In the case of Blessed Teresa, easily the most respected holy woman of this generation, there is plenty of lead time for those who wish to plan to be there for this historic ceremony.
A pilgrimage group from Philadelphia will travel to Rome Sept. 1-10 to participate in the canonization and also take part in a pilgrimage for the Jubilee Year of Mercy to various other holy sites in central Italy, according to Father G. Dennis Gill, the director of the Office for Divine Worship and the rector of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, who will lead the pilgrimage.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for the faithful of the archdiocese to visit the places of the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul and to experience a saint we have known in our lifetime,” Father Gill said.
The schedule, as arranged by Select International Tours, is far more than touring around the City of Rome, as interesting as that is.
Departure by air is Thursday, Sept. 1, arriving the next day with the opportunity to visit St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, the site where the great apostle was beheaded, and walk through the Holy Door to partially fulfill the requirements for the Holy Year indulgence.
Sept. 3 will see visits to St. Peter’s Basilica including the tomb of St. John Paul II, St. Mary Major, and St. John Lateran, which means not one but three more Holy Doors.
Sept. 4, of course, will be the joyful declaration by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square that Mother Teresa is indeed a saint.
Sept. 5 will have another stop at St. Peter’s for Mass, a view of the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain (do bring some coins) Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and the tomb of most of St. Catherine of Siena (her head was stolen long ago by the citizens of Siena and is venerated in that city, which is not part of the tour).
Also visited on that day will be the Pantheon, one of the most intact structures of ancient Rome with a dome that has never been equaled from an engineering standpoint.
Sept. 6 will have visits to Orvieto, which will include a wine tasting, and to Assisi, so important in the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare.
Sept. 7 will have visits to the tombs of both St. Francis and St. Clare in Assisi then on to Lanciano and San Giovanni.
Sept. 8 in San Giovanni is a day dedicated to St. Pio (Padre Pio) with a visit to his tomb and key sites of his ministry.
Sept. 9 is a visit to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence, and leisure time to explore the area.
Sept. 10 is a travel day and the flight back to Philadelphia.
Included in the trip is ground transportation, air fare, hotels in Rome and three other cities along the way, daily breakfast, six dinners and a couple of lunches and opportunity for daily Mass.
Total cost is $3,495 double occupancy and $495 single supplement (single room at additional cost), which is not bad considering the length of the itinerary and the amenities.
Whether it’s a first time or second or third, Rome especially is full of surprises, as it’s one of the great cities of the world.
For Joanna Bockman of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Southampton, this will be her second visit to Rome; the last was 16 years ago.
“I’m going because Mother Teresa means a lot to me,” she said. “Two other people in my parish are also going. A friend of mine, Charles Lehman, met her in India and he was so inspired by her. He died April 25, and I’m also going for him.”
Registration for the pilgrimage is due by May 27.
For more information about the pilgrimage, contact the Office for Divine Worship at 215-587-3537.
Interested parties can register online or by calling Select International Tours at 1-800-842-4842.