Holy Land Pilgrimage - October 29, 2019
For Blessed Sacrament Parishioners
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.
After arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, our immersion in ancient Israel where Christ walked begins. We will meet our guide who will be with us for the duration of the pilgrimage and make the scripture come alive as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the Prophets. Overnight in nearby Netanya.
Set out for a morning drive 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. Visit the Roman Theater, Crusader’s Moat and see the stunning architecture and art of the Byzantine Churches. That afternoon we enter the port city of Haifa to ascend Mt. Carmel, the sacred mountain where the Prophet Elijah contested 450 prophets of Baal proclaiming “The Lord, He is God,” and Elisha, his disciple, took refuge. Visit Stella Maris, the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Star of the Sea, located near the cave in which Elijah lived. Then make our way to our hotel in Tiberias that will be our home base for the next four nights.
We drive to Cana in Galilee to pray where Jesus performed his first miracle, at the request of his mother, Mary, 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. Explore the Church of the Annunciation that holds the Cave of the Annunciation just behind the altar. This is 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. (Matthew 17:5)
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 on the Mount.
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. We are now in the region once known as Caesarea Philippi, where Peter made his confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah (Mark 8:27). Continue around the Sea of Galilee to Kursi, where Jesus cast out a legion of demons into a herd of swine (Luke 8:26). Then drive to Magdala, birthplace of Mary Magdalene, known as “the Apostle to the Apostles” where we will visit the chapel and surrounding ruins. Return to Tiberias for our final night along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
This morning we depart from the region of Galilee and travel south through the Jordan River 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 journey into Jericho, the oldest known city in the Western world. In 1250 B.C., Joshua and the Israelites encircled the city, trumpets blasting, and the walls came tumbling down (Joshua 6). Jesus passed through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. From Jericho we have an excellent view of the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days to resist the devil. Afterwards, drive through the Judean wilderness to Bethany to see the House of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, where Jesus often visited his friends, and the Tomb of Lazarus where Christ raised him from the dead. See the place where He revealed to Martha that He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11). Then travel to Jerusalem, our home for the next five nights.
We will take a morning drive to the top of the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of Jerusalem and 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 Christ 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.
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 was buried and rose from the dead and the Chapel of St. Helena where she found the true cross. Next, is the Wailing Wall, a solemn site for the Jewish people and where prayers are inserted between the stones. St. John Paul II was the first pope to pray at the Wailing Wall. Our day ends with a trip to the Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed a blind man.
Journey to one of the most joyous sites connected to the Holy Night Christ was born – the Shepherd’s Fields outside of Bethlehem. Then travel into the city of Bethlehem and visit the Nativity Church 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. Enjoy some free time for shopping before returning to Jerusalem, with the balance of the day free for personal activities.
We start the morning at the Tomb of Our Lord in the Holy Sepulchre Church with time for private prayer and reflection. After breakfast, journey through the Judean Wilderness along the Dead Sea to Qumran to see the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Then drive to the Dead Sea to float and swim in its salty, mineral laden waters before returning to Jerusalem. This afternoon, we travel to Mt. Zion, where Christ celebrated the Last Supper in the Upper Room. Together we will then journey to pray the Rosary at 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. Finally, this evening we enjoy a farewell dinner at the Christmas Hotel.
Our time pondering the wonder and awe of the Holy Land comes to an end. We catch our return flight home from Tel Aviv.