Pilgrimage to the Holy Land - December 9, 2020
Emmaus | Nazareth | 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. Walk part of the road to Emmaus where the disciples encountered Jesus after His Resurrection. 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 be met by our guide who will guide us through the Holy Land and make the scripture come alive as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We drive north along the shores of the Mediterranean to the port city of Haifa where we will spend our first night in the Holy Land.
Following breakfast, we will visit Stella Maris on Mt. Carmel, home of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. Visit the Carmelite Monastery, the largest Carmelite Monastery and world center of the Order. We will find ourselves in the very cave where the prophet Elijah set up his altar and is said to have meditated before his encounter with the priests of Baal and visit Muhraqa where he triumphed over them. Then drive to Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus. Visit the Basilica of the Annunciation that holds the Cave of the Annunciation which is the actual room where Gabriel appeared to Mary and “the Word was made flesh.” (John 1:14) and see St. Joseph’s Carpentry Shop, where the foster father of Jesus worked. Afterwards, travel a short distance to Cana of 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. Proceed to our hotel in Galilee, our home for the next three nights.
This morning we will take an excursion to the summit of Mt. Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration and a 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 (Matthew 17). Later, 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).
Enjoy a scenic morning boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, the setting of 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. We will visit the synagogue where Jesus taught and proceed to Tabgha, where we ponder the site where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed more than 5,000 people (Luke 9:13). We will have time for personal prayer and reflection here, along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
We begin this morning at the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Christ gave his famous Sermon on the Mount. Then, 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 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 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 in His crown of thorns and with 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.
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. 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, 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. After time for personal prayer and shopping, we return to Jerusalem, where the remainder of the day will be free for personal activities.
After early morning prayer time at the Tomb of Our Lord, we return to the hotel for breakfast. We will then visit Abu Ghosh (Emmaus) where Jesus appeared following His Resurrection. Proceed to Bethany to see the House of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and the Tomb of Lazarus where Christ raised him from the dead. View the site where Jesus revealed to Martha that He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11). Continue through the Judean Wilderness to Qumran to see the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. We then drive to the Dead Sea to float and swim in its salty, mineral laden waters before heading back to Jerusalem for some free time on our final afternoon. This evening we head to a local hotel to enjoy a traditional Middle Eastern farewell dinner.
Our time pondering the wonder and awe of the Holy Land comes to an end. We transfer to the airport in Tel Aviv to catch our return flight home.
- Daily Mass at holy sites
- Roundtrip economy airfare from Omaha to Tel Aviv on United Airlines
- 9 nights’ accommodation, 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 (excluding drinks)
- Middle Eastern dinner on day 10