Holy Land Pilgrimage - March 7, 2021
Jerusalem | Bethlehem | Galilee
Step into the sandals of the apostles as you stroll the streets of Old City Jerusalem and visit some of the holiest places in Christian history. Visit Nazareth and see the sacred places where our Blessed Mother carried Christ in her womb. Explore the shores of the Sea of Galilee where Christ lived, walked and preached the words of the Gospel.
Holy Land Pilgrimage Itinerary
Our pilgrimage begins today as we depart on our flight to Israel. Meals and drinks served aloft.
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, our immersion in ancient Israel where Christ walked begins as we are met by our local guide, who will escort us throughout our stay in the Holy Land and make the scripture come alive as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Drive to our hotel in Jerusalem, our home for the next five nights.
We begin this morning at one of the most joyous sites connected to the Holy Night Christ was born – the church located in the Shepherd’s Fields in Bethlehem, marking the spot where the shepherds heard the chorus of angels proclaiming Jesus’ birth. Continue on to Bethlehem University where we will have an opportunity to mingle with the local Christian Palestinian students and faculty over lunch. In the city of Bethlehem, meaning “House of Bread,” we visit the Nativity Church that sits above the traditional Grotto of Jesus’ Birth. Ponder the Manger, Grotto of St. Jerome and the Church of St. Catherine, the parish church for Bethlehem’s Catholics. We will visit the Milk Grotto Chapel, a place where many couples pray for the Virgin Mary’s intercession to conceive a child. We return to Jerusalem with the balance of the day free for personal activities.
Today begins at the top of the Mount of Olives with a panoramic view of Jerusalem. We will visit two churches located on the mount: The Church of the Pater Noster where Jesus taught His disciples how to pray the “Our Father” and the Ascension Chapel, the site where Jesus ascended into Heaven. Descend the mount on the path Christ walked on the “Palm Sunday Road” to Dominus Flevit, where He wept over Jerusalem and her future destruction. Then enter into the Garden of Gethsemane where Christ had His agony and was betrayed. Keep watch with Christ and pray in the Church of All Nations at the Rock of Agony, the very rock where Christ prayed and sweated blood before He was to be crucified. In the afternoon, we drive to Ein Karem, one of the most beautiful sites in the New City of Jerusalem where St. John the Baptist was born. Pray at the Visitation Church where Mary proclaimed her service to God in her Magnificat prayer, before returning to Jerusalem.
An exciting and full-packed day awaits us as we explore Jerusalem further. We enter the Old City of Jerusalem through St. Stephen’s Gate to visit the Church of St. Anne, where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born. Afterwards is the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the paralytic man. We will continue to see Pilate’s Judgement Hall, the Chapel of Flagellation, the Arch of Ecce Homo, where Pilate said, “Behold the man,” with Jesus standing before the crowds with His crown of thorns and His body torn after His scourging. Prayerfully, we will walk the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and have the opportunity to climb the steps up to Mt. Calvary to pray at the site of the Crucifixion. Venerate the site where Jesus’ body was anointed, the tomb where He was buried and rose from the dead, and the Chapel of St. Helena where she found the true cross. This afternoon, we travel to Mt. Zion, where Christ celebrated the Last Supper in the Upper Room. Together we will then journey to the Church of the Dormition, the traditional site where Mary was assumed into heaven. Our final stop is at one of the most striking churches in Jerusalem –St. Peter in Gallicantu– that hosts a wide array of art styles. A golden rooster sits atop it recalling the place where Peter denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26). It was the palace of the high priest Caiaphas, where Jesus was brought to jail after His arrest and kept in the dungeon that sits underneath the Church.
Today begins with an early morning Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After a late breakfast back at our hotel, we will meet with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (or his representative) in the Old City of Jerusalem – based upon his schedule. We enjoy a tour of the “City of David” archaeological site where we catch a glimpse of life in ancient Jerusalem, before heading into the Judean Wilderness to Jericho, the oldest known city in the Western world. In 1250 B.C., Joshua encircled the city, trumpets blasting, and the walls came tumbling down (Joshua 6). From the top of the ancient “tel,” we’ll have an excellent view of Elisha’s Fountain, the Qarantal, and the Mount of Temptation. Continue on to the Dead Sea to float and swim in its salty, mineral-laden waters before returning to Jerusalem. We celebrate our last night in this wondrous city with a traditional Middle Eastern dinner.
Depart Jerusalem this morning and drive north through the Jordan Valley to the traditional baptismal site of Jesus in the Jordan River. Renew your baptismal vows in the very river where Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. (Mark 1:9) Ponder how the children of Israel crossed the River Jordan opposite Jericho when they came to the Promised Land. These are the waters the prophet Elijah divided and crossed with Elisha and which Naaman the Syrian dipped in seven times to cure his leprosy. Pilgrims come every year to immerse themselves in these holy waters. Continue our drive north though the Judean wilderness and the Jordan River Valley to the region of Galilee. From here we ascend the Golan Heights, a fertile plateau with expansive views over Israel. Stop at the Banias Spring, a waterfall that rises from under a cave and is one of the sources of the Jordan River. It was here in Banias (known in Biblical times as Caesarea Philippi) where Peter made his confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah and where Jesus gave Peter his new name, declaring him the Rock upon which He would build His Church (Matthew 16:16-19). We end our day in Tiberias, where we check into our hotel, our home base for the next three nights.
Enjoy a scenic morning boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, the setting of so many moments in Christ’s life. We will visit the Church of Peter’s Primacy on the shores of Galilee. A rock at the center of the Church is believed to be the actual table where the apostles ate breakfast with Christ after His Resurrection. It is where Peter’s role as the Vicar of Christ was further established as Christ asked him to “Feed my sheep,” (John 21:16) We continue to Capernaum the center of Jesus’s three-year public ministry where he called his first disciples, Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew. Here Christ healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, brought a child back to life, cured a leper, healed the centurion’s servant and cast out a demon from a young boy. After Mass we will visit the synagogue where Jesus taught. At Tabgha, we ponder the site where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed more than 5,000 people. (Luke 9:13) Our last site is the Mount of Beatitudes where Christ gave his famous Sermon of the Mount.
We drive to Cana in Galilee to pray where Jesus performed his first miracle, at the request of His Mother, turning the water into wine. The Catholic Church points to this miracle as establishing the Sacrament of Marriage. If you wish, you may renew your wedding vows here as a lasting remembrance of this holy site. Afterwards, travel a short distance to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. Visit the Church of the Annunciation, which holds the Cave of the Annunciation, the actual room where Gabriel appeared to Mary and “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). See St. Joseph’s Carpentry Shop, where the foster father of Jesus worked and Mary’s Well, where the Virgin Mary drew water with her son for their daily living. We will take our last excursion of the day to the summit of Mt. Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration and the culminating point of Christ’s public life. Christ revealed his divinity here to three of his apostles as he spoke with the prophets Moses and Elijah. It is also the second time and place where God told people from Heaven that Christ was his beloved Son to whom they should listen.
Depart this morning from Tiberias, visiting Magdala, home of St. Mary Magdalene, before driving southwest along the Mediterranean Coast to Caesarea, the capital of the Roman Procurators of Judea where St. Peter preached, and St. Paul was imprisoned for two years. We will visit the Roman Theater, Crusader’s Moat and see the stunning architecture and art of the Byzantine Churches. Continue to Old Jaffa to visit St. Peter’s Church where Peter stayed when visiting this city and the House of Simon the Tanner. It was here where Peter brought Tabitha back from the dead and had a vision about broadening the ministry of Christ and bringing the message of salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 10). After dinner at a local restaurant before heading to the airport for our late evening return flight home.
Our time pondering the wonder and awe of the Holy Land comes to an end as we arrive back in the United States following our overnight flight from Tel Aviv.
- Daily Mass at holy sites
- Roundtrip economy airfare from Memphis to Tel Aviv on United Airlines
- 8 nights’ accommodations, including taxes and service charges
- Porterage of one piece of luggage at airports and hotels
- Knowledgeable, friendly, Catholic/Christian guides; whisper headsets; deluxe motor coach transportation to holy sites; all entrance fees listed on itinerary
- Breakfast and dinner per itinerary (excluding drinks)
- Middle Eastern dinner on day 6