Rome and the Holy Land have been the main Christian pilgrimage destinations for centuries. This Passion of Christ Tour actually combines these two great centers of Christianity by enabling pilgrims and tourists to see the objects brought from the Holy Land to Rome by St Helena - the mother of Emperor Constantine.
In the 4th Century, when Constantine took power and became Emperor of the Roman Empire, he legalised Christianity. His mother, Helena, converted to Christianity and with deep devotion, wanted to seek out objects / relics of the salvific Passion of Christ. She therefore journeyed to the Holy Land and brought back many objects that had been subject to devotion from the very earliest Christians of the apostolic age.
She brought them to Rome - the center of the civilised world at the time - to spread devotion to Christ and awareness of the Christian Church & religion.
For those fortunate enough to get a place on this popular tour, you will begin at the magnificent Basilica of St Mary Major - one of the most ancient basilicas in Rome and also one of the most beautiful with it's oppulent golden ceiling and stunning mosaics. This Basilica has a fascinating history and you will also be able to visit the relics of wood from the crib / manger at Bethlehem at the beginning of Christ's earthly life and the theological links with the wood of the Cross that would mark the end of Christ's earthly life.
From there, you will journey on to the nearby Basilica of Santa Prassede which originated in the 8th Century containing fragments of the pillar on which Christ was scourged together with some wondrous pieces of medieval art.
You will then continue on the more modern but equally beautiful Church of St Alfonsus Ligouri - a hidden treasure of Rome - which contains the world famous Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour / Help. This 15th century icon - called the Virgin of the Passion by the Eastern Churches - has been a focal point of devotion to Our Lady and a source of reflection on Christ's Passion for centuries. It is perhaps the most famous icon in the Western Church.
From there you will continue on with your expert Catholic guide to the Holy Steps. These are the steps on which Pontius Pilate judged Christ before condeming him to his gruesome execution on the Cross. St Helena had these steps removed from Jerusalem and transported to Rome (no mean feat in those days) so that pilgrims can follow the ancient tradition of ascending the steps on their knees if they wish whilst considering the great act of love by Christ - the just Judge - during his Passion.
As if all this wasn't enough, you will then cross the road to enter the great Arch-Basilica of St John Lateran - the Cathedral of Rome. Your expert guide will explain the significance of this Basilica, it's stunning features and also take you through the objects contained there brought from Jerusalem.
Finally, you will meander on to the nearby Basilica of the Holy Cross - so named as it is the home to significant pieces of the True Cross on which Christ died. This Basilica also contains a nail that pierced his flesh, together with a thorn from his regal Crown of Thorns.
This is a moving and inspiring tour that many tourists who come to Rome are simply unaware of. If you are a pilgrim to Rome then this is a must-see tour. However, regardless of your religious persuasion, this tour is a fantastic way to learn about the history of Christianity, the impact it had on the Roman Empire and indeed the world, and to marvel at the beauty and simple magnificence of the places that you visit.
All of the guides are native mother-tongue English speakers, who are a mines of information and will keep you fascinated and entertained throughout. All of the guides have also studied at the Pontifical Universities and offer a deep understanding of the faith and history set before you.
What are you waiting for? Book now to avoid disappointment before places fill up as this tour is a popular attraction.