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England with Optional Ireland

The partaking of pilgrimages is a very old tradition in the British Isles.  From the first martyrs of Roman times to the martyrs of Henry VIII’s persecution of the faithful, people have been coming to the tombs of saintly men and women to ask for their intercessions before our Lord Jesus Christ. Pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham rivaled with the pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Becket in Canterbury which, in turn, rivaled with Rome as a pilgrim destination.  Most of the shrines had been ruthlessly destroyed by Henry VIII, but he could not destroy the memory and the greatness of these martyrs and saints.  Therefore, today we can still pray in the beautiful churches where they have been venerated these many centuries.

Evening departure from USA for your overnight flight to London.  Dinner aloft.

Upon your arrival, and after your passport control, a RENAISSANCE TRAVEL representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel in LONDON.  In the afternoon, this guide will accompany you on a sightseeing tour of London where you will visit Westminster Abbey, the coronation church built for Edward the Confessor, the last Saxon king before the Norman invasion of 1066.  In the Abbey you will see tombs of great men, as well as the Coronation Chair, Our Lady’s chapel, etc.  Another stop will take you to Westminster Cathedral, one of London’s rare Byzantine buildings and cathedral church of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of London.  Mass will be celebrated at 5:30 PM at Westminster Cathedral followed by a welcome dinner.  Overnight at your hotel.

After breakfast and Mass, you will leave London for a visit of the magnificent medieval stronghold of Warwick Castle with its great hall and state rooms.  As the castle today belongs to the owners of Madame Toussaud’s Wax Museum, you may “meet” many famous personalities there.  The next stop will take you to STRATFORD-UPON-AVON for a visit of Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s cottage.  Tentative plans have been made for the possibility of seeing a Shakespearean play.  Drive to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

After breakfast and Mass, today we drive to the center of England passing Coventry, Manchester and Birmingham all the way to CARLISLE on the Scottish border.  Lunch on route.  Before arriving in Carlisle, we will stop at Hadrian’s wall which runs east to west between England and Scotland and built by Roman legionaries by order of the Emperor Hadrian in AD 122 for protection against the Scots.  Then there is a short visit of the Carlisle Cathedral and dinner and overnight at your hotel.

After breakfast, we depart in the direction of Peebles for a visit to Traquir House and Holy Mass in the castle’s chapel.  This house contains many souvenirs of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87).  You will be shown a secret room where her priest would hide during the persecution.  Early in the afternoon, we will arrive in Edinburg where you will visit Scotland’s capital and view its magnificent castles.  Continue on to St. Margaret’s Chapel, built by her son, King David of Scotland to house her relics.  She has become an English saint much revered by the entire Church. Finally, we visit the Palace where Mary, Queen Scots gave birth to her son James VI and which houses the Scottish Regalia.  Dinner and overnight in Edinburgh.

After breakfast and Mass, we will visit the Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official Scottish residence.  Mary, Queen of Scots married Lord Darnley in the palace’s chapel and lived at Holyrood when she returned from France as his widow.  It was here that John Knox would harangue her because of her faith.  Dinner and overnight is in Durham.

After Holy Mass, we will visit the small medieval city of DURHAM with its huge cathedral, built in 1093, holding the remains of St. Cuthbert and Bede the Venerable.  We then visit the Benedictine Abbey of Ampleforth whose monks, inspired by Gregory the Great, had come to England with St. Augustine in 597. They are credited with a large share of the conversion of the English.  The English Benedictine Congregation was founded at the call of Rome in the 13th century and some of their works still stand (for example, monastic Westminster, Canterbury, Chester, and Durham).  In 1802 a school was established at Ampleforth which became a center of Catholic learning.  Tentative plans have been set up to participate in the abbey’s noon service with lunch followed at the abbey.  We next travel to York where, in 306 AD,  Constantine the Great was proclaimed emperor.  Dinner is at the hotel.

Mass will be celebrated at the shrine of St. Margaret Clitheroe followed by a visit to St. Peter’s Minster.  This dedication to St. Peter emphasizes the close link with Rome after the union between the Celtic and Roman traditions at Whitby in 664 AD.  The Minster is the largest Gothic church north of the Alps.  We will see the famous monument of Archbishop Walter de Gray who had begun construction of the present building.  The Minster contains the largest medieval collection of stained glass in England.  Dinner and overnight stay is in the Elmham House, the church’s own pilgrimage house.

The shrine to Our Lady at WALSINGHAM used to be one of the biggest pilgrimage sites of Christianity until Henry VIII destroyed it.  Now, there are three sites of devotion:  the Roman Catholic, the Anglican High Church, and the Orthodox. Holy Mass is in the chapel.  Special activities today will include the rosary and the Station of the Cross.  Then on to Norwich, one of England’s best-preserved Saxon city.  Saxon was famous as a center of wood trade.  We then visit its Norman cathedral consecrated in 1278.  Drive to Bury Saint Edmunds, where King Canute built an abbey in honor of this last King of East Anglia who had been decapitated by Danish raiders and later canonized in the 900 AD.  Queen Mary Tudor is also buried here.  Dinner and overnight at Cambridge.

After breakfast, there is Holy Mass.  Visit CAMBRIDGE where St. John Fisher studied at Trinity College and later became Chancellor of Cambridge University and Bishop of Rochester.  This saint later worked as confessor to Queen Catherine of Aragon as one of her counselors in the nullity suit, clearly demonstrating the validity of her marriage to Henry VIII.  Fisher was beheaded as a traitor in 1535 and canonized in 1925.  As we walk through this old city, there will be visits to Trinity College and King’s College Chapel.

Day 11 - LONDON
After breakfast, we take a full day excursion to Canterbury.  Upon arrival, we will have Holy Mass in the crypt of St. Dunstan over the shrine of St. Thomas Moore.  His body had been thrown into a common grave on Tower Hill, but his head was taken back to this church.  We will then visit Canterbury Cathedral, the seat of the Primates of England and the Cathedral of Saint Thomas Becket who was murdered on the steps of the alter for having defended Rome’s supremacy over the king’s.  We also will visit the tomb of the Black Prince and the Abbey founded by Saint Augustine in 597 and on to the Hospital of Saint Thomas.  Lunch to be scheduled.  A farewall dinner is being planned.  Overnight stay is at a London hotel.

We will have Holy Mass at Brompton Oratory (if available), then transfer to the London airport for the flight back to the United States.


This morning, we will take a short flight from London to DUBLIN.  We arrive in Dublin by noon and lunch will be scheduled.  After lunch, you will go an orientation tour of Dublin including Dublin Castle, Trinity College, and the National Art Gallery.  Dinner at Jury’s Cabaret and overnight at a hotel in Dublin.

Today, you will go on a full day excursion to GLENDALOUGH and WICKLOW HILLS.  We return to Dublin through Kildare, a horse country, and the curragh.  There is an optional evening at the Abbey Theather.  Dinner is on your own.

Today, we leave Dublin for NEWGRANGE, MELLIFONT and MONASTERBOICE ABBEYS.  There is time for shopping in Dublin.  You also have a farewell dinner.

After breakfast, your tour guide will transfer you to the airport for your flight home where you will arrive on the same day.


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