If you have been thinking about organizing a trip to Rome for your parish, Pope Francis couldn’t have given you a clearer sign that 2016 is the year to go. On March 13 of 2015, Pope Francis declared that 2016 would be a Year of Jubilee that would be named the Holy Year of Mercy.
The idea of the Year of Jubilee comes from Leviticus, in which a Year of Jubilee was a special year for having sins forgiven and forgiving the debts of others. In 1300, Pope Boniface VIII declared the first Year of Jubilee for the Catholic Church, and there have been 28 Years of Jubilee since, with the last being in 2000 under Pope John Paul II.
The Year of Jubilee officially began when Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Dec. 8, giving groups a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this year in Rome.
“The main draw for visiting Rome in 2016 is the ability to pass through the Holy Door at one of the major basilicas,” said Joann Dyer, manager of emerging markets for the Globus family of brands. “We’ll provide travelers with time and an opportunity at one of the four major basilicas to go through the Holy Door and receive the sacrament of
The Year of Jubilee will conclude on Nov. 20, 2016, giving you time to organize a group from your parish for a one-ofa- kind pilgrimage. Several tour companies are running special Year of Jubilee group tours in Rome throughout 2016, each with their own unique way to experience the Holy Year of Mercy.
Globus and Cosmos
Globus and Cosmos (a Globus brand) are each offering a Year of Jubilee tour option in Rome. Globus’ “Grand Catholic Italy” tour is 10 days starting in Rome and ending in Venice with stops in Cascia, Assisi and Padua along the way. Guided tour stops include eight basilicas (including St. Peter’s Basilica), the Holy Stairs, Sistine Chapel and Monastery of St. Damian.
“On all Globus and Cosmos tours guests receive VIP access to some of the busiest and most popular sights in the world and have our award-winning tour directors with them every step of the way,” Dyer said. “Rome is already expecting a record number of visitors for the Jubilee Year, so traveling with a company that has over 87 years of logistical experience and excellent guest satisfaction will be key.”
Cosmos’ “Spiritual Highlights of Italy” tour is nine days in and around Rome. The tour visits all four of Rome’s major basilicas, the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and other Rome hotspots such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, as well as lesser-known but sacred sights such as San Giovanni Rotondo, home of St. Padre Pio, and Lanciano, the site of an eighth-century Eucharistic Miracle.
“Our escorted faith tour packages and itineraries have been honed by more than eight decades of experience and a passion for religious travel,” Dyer said.
Regina Tours, which specializes in Catholic pilgrimages, has enhanced several of its existing tours to take advantage of special Year of Jubilee opportunities, including passing through the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica.
“The uniqueness [of the Year of Jubilee] is the experience of traveling on a pilgrimage that involves the forgiveness of sins as well as reconciliation,” said Nick Mancino, president of Regina Tours.
“Beatingo: Pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Rome, and Giovani Rotondo” is a nine-day tour that includes a rare chance to be a part of a Papal Audience, depending on Pope Francis’ schedule. Other highlights include two days of meditation and sightseeing in Medjugorje (a peaceful village in Bosnia and Herzegovina), a ferry ride across the Adriatic Sea, a day in San Giovanni Rotondo and four days in Rome. In addition to a possible Papal Audience, groups will get to experience the Vatican Museum, Catacombs and other popular sites in the City of Seven Hills.
The “Eternal City of Rome” tour hits many of the same sites as the nine-day pilgrimage, but in a shorter, seven-day tour exclusively in and around Rome. Groups may also be interested in the one-time “Canonization of Mother Theresa” seven-day tour in September of 2016. The tour revolves around the canonization of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who embodied the Year of Jubilee theme of mercy, and includes several days of sightseeing in Rome.
Collette offers almost 20 different tours to Italy, and several offer great opportunities to visit the Eternal City of Rome during the Year of Jubilee.
“In this special year of mercy, the Pope has invited Catholics to join together in renewal and solidarity by making the pilgrimage to the great basilicas of Rome,” said Amelia Sugerman, public relations manager at Collette. “There are multiple guided travel experiences with dozens of departure dates to choose from to bring your congregation to Rome.”
“Shrines of Italy” is an 11-day trip that starts and ends in Rome, with stops in Assisi, Pompeii, Florence (an optional excursion) and San Giovanni Rotondo in the middle of the tour. The time in Rome hits all of the major highlights including the Sistine Chapel, all four of Rome’s major basilicas, the Catacombs, Vatican Museum and a possible Papal Audience, depending on Pope Francis’ schedule.
Two more Collette tours, “Spotlight on Rome” and “Venice, Florence & Rome,” are not faith-based in nature, but visit many of the same iconic Rome attractions that faith-based tours do. “Spotlight on Rome” is a seven-day tour in and around Rome that includes a special trip to Ostia Antica, the harbor city of ancient Rome that is remarkably well-preserved. The “Venice, Florence & Rome” tour spends nine days touring the three cities in its name, arguably the three most beautiful cities in Italy. Highlights in Rome include the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Perillo Tours has created an eight-day “Rome Jubilee Tour” exclusively for 2016’s Year of Jubilee, which is available 14 different times between March and October. Accommodations are at a four-star Rome hotel within walking distance of the Vatican.
The tour hits all of the major sites in the Vatican, but includes a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and the Papal Gardens, as well as special access to the Raphael Rooms, Sala Di Chiaroscuro and the secret Niccoline Chapel, which are not seen by most groups. A Papal Audience is also on the schedule, depending on Pope Francis’ schedule.
The trip includes a tour of Rome’s historic Jewish Ghetto, a free day in Rome and a day trip to Castelli Romani, a group of fortified villages just southeast of the Eternal City.