Pilgrimage to the Holy Land - February 4, 2023
Galilee | Jerusalem | Judean wilderness | Coastal Region
Imagine the faces of those who first saw Christ at the seashore, on the mountains and in the valleys. Pray where miracles happened, and witness the places that the Bible speaks about.
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. Stay overnight in the Mediterranean city of 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. We will visit the Roman Theater and the Crusader’s Moat and see the stunning architecture and art of the Byzantine Churches. This afternoon we will 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. We will visit Stella Maris, the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Star of the Sea, located near the cave in which Elijah lived. We then continue along our way to Galilee to renew our baptismal vows in the very river where Christ was baptized by John the Baptist (Mark 1:9), then check into our hotel in Tiberias, our home base for the next three 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 (Matthew 17).
This morning we visit Magdala, birthplace of Mary Magdalene, known as “the Apostle to the Apostles,” where we will visit the chapel and surrounding ruins. Then 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, our last site of the day, where we ponder the site where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed more than 5,000 people. (Luke 9:13)
We begin this morning on the Mount of Beatitudes where Christ gave his famous Sermon on the Mount. We will have time for personal prayer and reflection here, along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Afterwards, depart this region and travel south through the Jordan River Valley to 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 view the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days to resist the devil. Continue through the Judean Wilderness along the road Jesus mentioned in his parable of the Good Samaritan and finish our day in Jerusalem, our home for the next six 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, built over the caves where Jesus taught His disciples how to pray the “Our Father,” and Ascension Chapel, the site from which 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. Here we will pray in the Church of All Nations at the Rock of Agony, the very rock where Christ prayed and sweated blood before He was crucified. This afternoon we drive to Ein Karem. Visit the Church of Saint John the Baptist built at the site where Saint John was believed to have been born. Then marvel at the Visitation Church where Mary proclaimed her service to God in her Magnificat prayer and pray the Magnificat together in this holy site.
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, see the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the paralytic man. Prayerfully walk the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and climb the steps up 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 head to Mt. Zion, where Christ celebrated the Last Supper with His Apostles in the Upper Room and instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Together we journey to Dormition Abbey, 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. A golden rooster sits atop, recalling the place where Peter denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26). This was the site of 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.
Journey to one of the most joyous sites connected to the Holy Night Christ was born – the Shepherd’s Fields outside of 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, the parish church for Bethlehem’s Catholics. After some free time for personal prayer and shopping in Bethlehem, we return to Jerusalem.
We start the morning in the Old City once more and visit the Wailing Wall, a solemn site for the Jewish people where prayers are inserted between the stones of the last remaining section of the Temple of Jerusalem which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Afterwards, we will visit 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 returning to Jerusalem. This evening, celebrate a farewell dinner together in Jerusalem.
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.