Pilgrimage to the Holy Land - May 8, 2023
Nazareth | Capernaum | Galilee | Jerusalem
Visit some of the holiest places in Christian history, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christ died, was buried and triumphed over death in his Resurrection.
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 Bethlehem where we check in before dinner. (D)
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, 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. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight (B, D) Mass
Early this morning we will gather in prayer again at the Church of the Nativity. Afterwards, we depart Bethlehem for Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. Celebrate Mass in 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. Later we will check-in at our hotel, our home for the next 3 nights. (B, D) Mass
This morning we will take an excursion 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) Before returning to Galilee, we will stop in Cana 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. (B, D) Mass
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. (B, D) Mass
This morning we depart 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. Continue through the Judean Wilderness to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, where we have the opportunity to float and swim in its salty, mineral laden waters before proceeding to Jerusalem, our home-base for the next four nights. (B, D) MassJerusalem – Mt. of Olives, Gethsemane, Ein Karem
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. (B, D) Mass
We start the morning at the Tomb of Our Lord in the Holy Sepulchre Church with time for private prayer and reflection. After a late breakfast, 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. The remainder of the afternoon will be free. (B, D) Mass
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 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 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. Our day ends with a trip to the Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed a blind man. (B, D) Mass
Our time pondering the wonder and awe of the Holy Land comes to an end. We catch our return flight home from Tel Aviv.
- Daily Mass at holy sites
- Roundtrip economy class airfare from Chicago O’Hare to Tel Aviv on Austrian Airlines/Lufthansa
- Bus transfers to and from St. John and ORD Chicago airport
- 9 nights’ accommodations, including taxes and service charges
- Porterage of one piece of luggage at airports and hotels
- Comprehensive guiding by a Christian guide; whisper headsets; deluxe motor coach transportation to holy sites; all entrance fees listed on itinerary
- Breakfast and dinner per itinerary (excluding drinks)