Vatican City and Mugnano – The Shrine of St Philomena
February 3 – 10, 2013
A Letter from Dr. Robert Moynihan:
When you arrive in Rome on the morning of February 4, a Monday, we will greet you at the airport and whisk you off in a private car to Vatican City itself, the place where Pope Benedict XVI lives and works, and one of the most ancient, beautiful, and secret places in the world.
You will be astonished to find yourself inside Vatican City itself, where you will have a room in one of the world’s most unique residences: the Domus Santa Marta, or “House of St. Martha.” (Remember, St. Martha was know for her hospitality, and this house is meant to be a place where visitors to the Vatican are received with great warmth and friendliness.) When you look out your window (if your room is on the outside of the building!), you will see the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica looming above you in all its splendor, so close you can almost reach out and touch it. This is the very residence where the cardinals from around the world stay during a papal conclave when they elect a new Pope (of course, during a conclave, the residence is completely closed down to outsiders for several months). The fact that we can visit and stay here is a very special honor, and we are grateful to be able to offer our pilgrims this special opportunity to stay inside the Vatican itself. The residence is not open to the general public.
All of our “Friends of Inside the Vatican magazine” pilgrimages are planned to be quiet and prayerful. Your journey with us is intended to be a peaceful, enjoyable, but also unforgettable experience, one which enriches your life and deepens your faith. This is an important point: although we will visit many very special places, our journey is a pilgrimage, not a tour. The spiritual dimension, the search for a deeper understanding of God and of the history and life of the Church, is central. This is why the pace of our pilgrimages will be slow and peaceful, not rushed. There will be time to think and to pray.
Our February pilgrimage will begin on Monday, February 4, with a day of recollection. It will be still a week until the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday this year will fall on February 13, and Lent ends on Saturday, March 30, with Easter Sunday on March 31). So our trip is, in a sense, a preparation for Lent, which itself is a preparation for Easter… On our first day, we will begin with confession in St. Peter’s Basilica—just a 2-minute walk from the Domus—near to the tomb of St. Peter. During the afternoon and evening, pilgrims will have a chance to reflect on life, on death, and on the saving work of Christ in rescuing this fallen world from the frustration of sin and our consequent alienation from God.
The second day, Tuesday, February 5, we will reflect on salvation history and get to know the treasures of Vatican City, the smallest country in the world. We will walk through the city, then visit the Vatican Museums, certainly one of the greatest collections of art in the world. One of the Museum’s own special guides will go with us, beginning in the Sistine Chapel , where the papal elections occur, beneath a vault depicting the creation of the world and of man, and a high chapel wall depicting the Last Judgment, so that the walls of this chapel contain, in a condensed form, the entire history of man and of the universe. So our pilgrimage will include sleeping in the residence where the papal electors will sleep, and standing in the chapel where the papal electors will vote… Later on Tuesday, we will visit the barracks of the Swiss Guard, and meet with some of the approximately 110 guards currently on active duty protecting the life of the Pope. These young men will discuss their lives and their work, and tell us what it is like to be present when presidents and kings visit the Vatican. We will be able to visit the place where the guards live, and to see their uniforms and weapons, some dating back centuries.
On Wednesday, February 6, we will focus on the Catholic Church and what it means to be a Catholic, and visit the Pope, St. Peter, and parts of the “Eternal City” of Rome. First, we will see Pope Benedict himself at a general audience. Since the audience will be general, not private, it is not likely that we will be able to get near enough to kiss the Pope’s ring. However, since it will be February and so not as crowded as in the summer, we do expect to be fairly close to Benedict, to see him clearly, to hear his teaching, and to receive his blessing. After lunch, we will go beneath St. Peter’s Basilica to visit the “scavi,” the excavations carried out during the past century, and to see the niche where St. Peter’s bones are still kept, almost 2,000 years after his execution upside down on a cross, under the Emperor Nero in the year 64 A.D. We will then study a map of Rome, and explain where the various parts of the city are located, then go outside the Vatican and cross the Tiber to reach two of the most beautiful piazzas in the world, one in front of the Pantheon, which we will visit, and the other the Piazza Navona with its lovely Bernini fountains, the Church of St. Agnes, and places to eat wonderful gelato (ice cream).
On Thursday, February 7, we will focus on sanctity and what it means to be a saint, and visit the Shrine of St. Philomena, outside of Rome, in Mugnano, not far from Naples. St. Philomena is somewhat controversial. Some scholars deny that she ever existed, and it is true that her feast day was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1960 (it had been included in the 1920 Roman Missal). Still, Rome has never officially called into question her existence or sainthood, and popular devotion to her has never been prohibited. For two centuries, there has been a great popular devotion to Philomena, rooted in the belief that she was a holy virgin killed during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian in the early 300s, who is a powerful intercessor for those who pray devotedly to her. We do know this: on May 24, 1802, three tiles in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome were found with the inscription “lumena paxte cumfi.” It is generally accepted that the tiles had, in a previous age, been moved out of order, and that the leftmost should have been on the right, as follows: “pax tecum Filumena” (“Peace be with you, Philomena”). Behind the tiles was found a niche with the skeletal remains of a 13- to 15-year-old girl and a small glass vial with vestiges of a person’s blood. In 1805, an Italian priest, Canon Francesco di Lucia, requested relics for a new altar in his church in Mugnano del Cardinale, and the bones were sent to him, arriving on August 11. In 1827, Pope Leo XII gave to the church in Mugnano the three inscribed terra cotta slabs with Philomena’s name on them. So we will visit this church and shrine, and see these relics for ourselves. During our journey home to Rome, we will stop at a lovely vineyard to have dinner and reflect on what we will have heard and seen.
On Friday, February 8, we will focus on models of Christian living for men and women, and visit the great cathedrals of Rome, dedicated to three supreme examples of Christian living: St. Mary, St. John and St. Paul. We will also visit the catacombs of St. Priscilla, where the relics of St. Philomena were found, and the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, which contains relics of the cross upon which Christ was crucified in 33 A.D. This will be a long day, and will take us across the entire city of Rome, but it should be a memorable day.
On Saturday, February 9, we will focus on the last things, on the life to come, the blessedness of heaven, and on the Virgin Mary, with two main “appointments”: a stroll through the lovely Vatican Gardens (which are in their peacefulness a sign of that peace which will mark the life of the world to come) and a visit to Santa Maria in Trastevere, which is the church in Rome that we like the best, and feel is the most beautiful of all. It is the oldest church in the world that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and in this church we will have the chance to meditate on Mary, the Mother of the Church, and the Mother of all who fly to her protection.
On Sunday, February 10, we will have our final moments together, and the pilgrimage will end, having gone from the Vatican outward into Rome, and into Italy, and then back again, and having reflected on some of the major themes of our spiritual lives.
Of course, each day, there will be surprises that I won’t tell you about here—or they would not be surprises! But we will visit other places inside the Vatican that I have not named, and we will meet a number of friends of the magazine, who will speak with us and pray with us.
So, please consider joining me on this journey. It should be a quiet, peaceful, joyful time, with many hours devoted to prayer and meditation, in the places of St. Peter, St. Paul. St. Philomena, and St. Mary, and close to Pope Benedict.
— Robert Moynihan
founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine
Pre-Lenten Pilgrimage – St Philomena
Vatican City and Mungano: Shrine of St Philomena
February 3 – 10, 2013
Day 1: Preparation – preparing ourselves – Sunday, February 3, 2013 – Depart United States via overnight flight to Rome
Day 2: Recollection – collecting ourselves… confession – Monday, February 4, 2013 – Arrive in Rome, private transfer to Vatican City, overnight in Vatican City at the Domus Santa Marta
Day 3: “In the beginning”… the fall, and the rise again = salvation history – Tuesday, February 5, 2013 – Tours Vatican Museum, Swiss Guard’s barracks, overnight in Vatican City
Day 4: The Church… the new ark, the new covenant, the vessel of salvation – Wednesday, February 6, 2013 – Papal Audience, Scavi Tour, Pantheon and Piazza Navona
Day 5: Sanctity… and St. Philomena, the way to live out salvation – Thursday, February 7, 2013– Travel in private motor coach from Vatican City to Mugnano – Shrine of St Philomena, dinner at fine local winery, overnight in Vatican City
Day 6: Models of life… John, Paul, Mary… and St. Martha… and Benedict… living the faith today – Friday, February 8, 2013 – Visit Catacombs of St. Priscilla, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, St Paul’s Outside the Walls and The Holy Cross in Jerusalem, overnight in Vatican City
Day 7: The “last things”… and heaven, the reward, or result, or prize, for living the faith – Saturday, February 9, 2013 – Tour Vatican Gardens, Santa Maria in Trastevere, overnight in Vatican City
Day 8: Going home… – Sunday, February 10, 2013 – Depart for the United States
- Spend 6 nights at the Domus Santa Marta inside Vatican City, directly adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica
- Private tour of the Vatican Gardens
- Tour of the tomb of St Peter, the Scavi Tour
- Private tour of the Swiss Guards’ Barracks
- Dine in Vatican City’s only dining room outside the Papal Palace
- Daily Mass celebrated in either the Domus Santa Marta, St Peter’s Basilica, Catacombs, Shrine of St Philomena, Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere
- Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Piazza with Pope Benedict XVI
- Dinners with Dr. Robert Moynihan and special guests and friends of Inside the Vatican magazine
- Private tour of St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum—visiting closed areas that are off limits to the general public—and the Sistine Chapel
- An informative walking tour of Vatican City with Dr. Robert Moynihan as your guide
- Tour the Pantheon
- Baroque Rome – walking tour of Piazza Navona and Spanish Steps stopping in special churches along the way to pray
- Ancient Rome – driving tour through Ancient Rome – Colosseum, Roman Forum
- Christian Rome – visit all major Basilicas in Rome – St. Mary Major, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and The Holy Cross in Jerusalem
- Dine in some of our favorite restaurants in Rome
- The rector of the Shrine of St. Philomena in Mugnano will greet us and speak about the young female martyr, St. Philomena
- Private Mass in the Shrine of St. Philomena
- Visit the Catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome, where the remains of St. Philomena were found
- Private Mass in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla
About 20 miles northeast of Naples, at Mugnano del Cardinale, you will find the body of one of today’s most popular and beloved saints: Saint Philomena, the miracle worker. In 1802, workers in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome discovered a tomb with three terracotta slabs reading PAXTE CUMFI LUMENA (Pax tecum Filumena), which means “Peace Be With You, Filumena.” The slabs were marked with a lily, arrows, an anchor and a palm, symbols indicating virginity, martyrdom, and the instrument of her martyrdom. Inside the tomb were the remains of a girl of about thirteen years of age, along with a vial of her dried blood, which signified that this was indeed a Martyr.
Her relics were kept in Rome until 1805 when a priest from Mugnano asked for permission to bring them to his parish. During that time in history, there was much dissension in the air, and people were openly rejecting Church teachings. When her relics were brought to the village church at Mugnano, graces flowed: conversions, favors, and miracles began to occur among the villagers and in the nearby vicinity. Miracles continued to occur year after year, and in 1837, Pope Gregory XVI elevated Philomena to Sainthood. Today, she is still revered as a miracle worker and is more popular than ever. There are many shrines erected to her throughout the world. Among the many saints with a devotion to her was the wonder worker, Saint John Vianney (the Curé of Ars), who attributed all his miracles to her. He encouraged his parishioners to pray to Philomena and seek her intercession. The Curé had a shrine installed in his parish church, where people frequently beseeched the Saint for her powerful intercession.
- $5,500.00 per person – Land and Air Package ($1,000 air allowance)
- $4,500.00 per person – Land Package
- No additional fee for a single room
- Comprehensive travel insurance is included
- 3 meals per day are included, all with bottled mineral water and wine
- Deposit of $500 by check, made payable to Inside the Vatican magazine, is required
at the time of booking
- Due to private access to sacred areas, we request all pilgrims provide a brief note of recommendation from their bishop or local parish priest (we supply a sample letter)
- Number of pilgrims is limited to 12 pilgrims to allow for a peaceful, prayerful, and personal experience
- This pilgrimage helps to support the Domus Santa Marta, and Inside the Vatican magazine
- February 2013 Pilgrimage Registration Packet
We will make every effort to adhere to the printed program and itinerary. On rare occasions it may be necessary to adjust arrangements due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control (including such circumstances as the weather, airline schedule change, hotel requisitions, political disturbances, or transportation mechanical problems). Should such adjustment be necessary, substitution will be made to the best of our abilities.
For more information or to reserve your spot: