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Panagia
Panagia (Greek: "All-holy"), is one of the titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, used especially in Orthodox Christianity. Panagia is also the term for a particular type of icon of the Holy Mother, wherein She is facing the viewer directly, usually depicted full length with Her hands in the orans posture (with praying hands extended) and with a medallion showing the image of Christ as a child in front of Her chest. The position of Mary's hands indicate that She is praying on behalf of us and the medallion symbolically represents Jesus within the womb of the Virgin Mary at the moment of the Incarnation. This type is also sometimes called the Virgin of the Sign or Our Lady of the Sign, a reference to Isaiah 7:14 ("Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel"). Such an image is often placed in the apse of the sanctuary of an Orthodox temple (church building), above the altar.
St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius and Warsaw
10 Days - Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland
Itinerary
Day 1: Depart the USA on an international flight to St. Petersburg in the Russian Federation. Meals will be served on the overnight flight.
Day 2: Welcome to Russia. Upon arrival in St. Petersburg, our Tour Director meets and escorts us to our hotel. Overnight in St. Petersburg.
Day 3: We depart via Narva for Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, situated on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. Tallinn has the typical narrow medieval streets, towers, town walls, Gothic churches, trading and residential houses of the 13th to 17th centuries. Dinner and overnight in Tallinn.
Day 4: Our sightseeing tour of Tallinn starts with a panoramic tour of the park of Kadriorg (founded by Peter the Great in the 18th century), the Song Festival grounds where National Song Festivals are held, and the ruins of the 15th century St. Brigitís convent (Pirita klooster) in Pirita. Our walking tour of the Old Town (Vanalin), a UNESCO World Heritage site starts in the Upper Town (Toompea) visiting the Toompea Castle, the present seat of the Parliament, orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Dome Church (Toomkirik), dating from the 13th century. In the Lower Town, we'll see the 14th century gothic Town Hall, Niguliste church and the main shopping streets of Old Town. Dinner and overnight in Tallinn.
Day 5: After breakfast, we depart for Riga, the capital of Latvia. Dinner and overnight in Riga.
Day 6: Riga, a major Baltic port dating back to the age of the Hanseatic League, is situated at the mouth of the Dougava River. The cityís narrow medieval streets display a wide variety of architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical. During our sightseeing tour, see the Riga Castle, the magnificent Dome Cathedral, St. Jacob's Cathedral, St. Peterís Church, the Parliament building, the Liberty Monument, the Academy of Art, the State Art Gallery and the district of Art Nouveau houses. The afternoon is at leisure. Dinner and overnight in Riga.
Day 7: We bid farewell to Riga as we depart for Lithuania and its capital, Vilnius. Enroute, we visit the Hill of Crosses, then on to Siluva. Over the centuries, not only crosses, but giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary, thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. While the number of crosses is unknown, estimates put it at about 50,000. Dinner and overnight in Vilnius.
Day 8: The city of Vilnius is located on the confluence of the Neris and Velnele Rivers. It has been inhabited since the 9th century. In Old Vilnius, visit Peter and Paul Church and St. Annaís Church. Also visit Vilnius University, dating back to 1570, Gedimenoís Tower in the Upper Town and Vilnius Castle. The afternoon is at leisure or one may take an optional excursion to Trakai. Dinner and overnight in Vilnius.
Day 9: We bid farewell to Lithuania and the Baltic States and cross the border to Poland. At day's end, we reach our destination, Warsaw, the 700 year old capital of Poland. Warsaw has long been a symbol of nationhood and the will to survive against great odds. Dinner and overnight in Warsaw.
Day 10: We bid farewell to Poland as we depart for the airport to catch our return flight to the U.S. for a same day arrival.
NOTE: Masses will be celebrated everyday. Where there is no Mass indicated on a specific date, these are the days that Mass will be celebrated at either a local church or in a special church that we want to leave as a surprise. All Masses are contingent to each of the churchís schedule and is subject to change due to weddings, funerals, etc. which we have no control.

This itinerary can be combined with one of the Russia itineraries. Optional extension to the other shrines in Poland and possibly continuing to Prague will be offered.
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