Pilgrimage to the Holy Land - June 29, 2019
Sea of Galilee | Bethlehem | Jerusalem
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.
Our immersion in ancient Israel where Christ walked begins. After arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv we will be met by our local guide who will make the scripture come alive as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the Prophets. Proceed to the resort town of Netanya where we will spend our ﬁrst night in the Holy Land on the shores of the Mediterranean.
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 Crusader’s Moat and see the stunning architecture and art of the Byzantine Churches. Continue north and visit Muhraka, where Elijah had his famous duel with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). After Mass we will enter the port city of Haifa to ascend Mt. Carmel, the sacred mountain where the Prophet Elijah proclaimed, “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. Continue on to Tiberias, our home 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, then proceed to Tabgha, where we ponder the site where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed more than 5,000 people. (Luke 9:13) Our last site of the day is the Mount of Beatitudes where Christ gave his famous Sermon on the Mount.
Following breakfast, 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. Visit Nain, where Jesus raised the son of a widow for whom He had much compassion (Luke 7). Journey 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).
After an early morning Mass at the Mount of the Beatitudes, we will ascend the Golan Heights and stop at the Banias Spring, a waterfall that rises from under a cave and 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). From there we will travel around the Sea of Galilee and stop at Kursi, where Jesus cast out a legion of demons into a herd of swine (Luke 8:26). Then we depart the region of Galilee, and travel south 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. From here, we will have a short drive to Jerusalem and check into our hotel, our home base for the next five nights.
We 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. Here we have Mass in the Church of All Nations at the Rock of Agony, the very rock Christ prayed at 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.
We begin this morning with Mass 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. In this, the oldest church in the Holy Land still in use, we ponder the Manger and the Incarnation of our Lord. See the Grotto of St. Jerome, where this patron saint of librarians translated the ancient Hebrew and Greek Scriptures into the Latin Vulgate, 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 in Bethlehem before returning to Jerusalem, where the balance of the day will be free for personal activities.
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 the 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, where we will have Mass and 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. Afterwards, we exit the city to visit the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus healed a man born blind. 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. We will have a celebratory Middle Eastern dinner this evening at the Christmas Hotel.
This morning, visit Bethany, where we will celebrate Mass and see the House of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and the Tomb of Lazarus where Christ raised him from the dead. 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). Many times, Jesus passed through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. From the ruins of ancient Jericho, we will ascend the Mount of Temptation where Jesus fasted and prayed forty days to resist the devil. We end our day with a drive to the Dead Sea to float and swim in its salty, mineral laden waters before heading back to Jerusalem.
Our time pondering the wonder and awe of the Holy Land comes to an end. We transfer to the airport in Tel Aviv for our early return flight home, refreshed and renewed in our faith.
- Daily Mass at holy sites
- Roundtrip economy airfare from Chicago O’Hare to Tel Aviv on Swiss Air/Austrian Airlines
- Roundtrip bus transfers to and from Chicago O’Hare
- 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 9