Pilgrimage to the Holy Land - November 8, 2023
Nazareth | Capernaum | Galilee | Jerusalem
This pilgrimage will be led by Roy Schoeman, Jewish convert to Catholicism and renowned author, speaker, and retreat leader. Since our primary purpose is prayer and growing closer to the Lord, we will be spending extra time for prayer at the shrines.
Please feel free to contact Roy directly at “[email protected]” with any questions or concerns to help determine if this is the right pilgrimage for you.
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, we will go directly to Nazareth where the Annunciation took place, where the Holy Family lived, and where Jesus first publicly announced His mission. We will spend two nights there, praying at the many places there sanctified by the presence of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (and the Angel Gabriel). Our hotel will be walking distance from the Basilica of the Annunciation, allowing us to return there for additional prayer. (D)
Our day is spent in Nazareth. We will visit and pray at the Grotto of the Annunciation, (the very spot where “The Word was made flesh.” -Jn.1:14), at St. Joseph’s Carpentry Shop, at Mary’s Well where the Virgin Mary went daily for water, at the synagogue of Nazareth where Jesus first publicly announced his mission, and at the “Tomb of the Just Man”, believed to be the tomb of St. Joseph. (B, D)
This morning we depart Nazareth and take an excursion to the summit of Mt. Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration and a turning point in Christ’s public life. Here Peter, John, and James witnessed Christ in his divinity speaking with the prophets Moses and Elijah (Mt. 17). After lunch, we will travel a short distance to Cana where Jesus performed His first miracle – the transformation of the water into wine – at the request of His mother. The Catholic Church considers this miracle to have established the sacrament of marriage. If you wish, you may renew your wedding vows here as a lasting remembrance of this holy site. We then proceed to our pilgrimage house on the Mount of Beatitudes, run by Franciscan Sisters on the very spot where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, where we will stay the next three nights. (B, D)
This entire day is spent along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The area around the Sea of Galilee was the center of Jesus’ ministry for the three years of public ministry and is rich in places sanctified by His presence and activity. We start on the Mt. of Beatitudes, the site of the Sermon on the Mount. Then we visit Tabgha, where Jesus performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes mystically foreshadowing the Eucharist, and the nearby Church of Peter’s Primacy (Jn. 21:16), where after the Resurrection Jesus appeared to the Apostles and confirmed Peter in the role as Vicar of Christ with the words, “Feed My sheep”. Within the church is the very stone on which Jesus grilled the fish for their breakfast. We proceed a short distance along the shore to Capernaum, which was Jesus’ “home base” for much of his public ministry. Here our Lord met his first disciples – Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew – and worked many miracles, including healing Peter’s mother-in-law, bringing a child back to life, curing a leper, healing the centurion’s servant, casting out a demon from a young boy, and healing all who were sick (Mt. 8:16). It was in the synagogue of Capernaum that Jesus gave his “Bread of Life” discourse, drawing the mystical connection between the manna in the desert and introducing the Eucharist as the true “bread from Heaven”. After Capernaum we continue to Kursi, where Jesus exorcised the demoniac, casting the “legion” of demons into a herd of swine which then ran into the sea (Lk. 8:26). The day will end with a scenic boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, offering time to reflect on all we have seen and experienced thus far. (B, D)
This morning we travel to Chorazin, cursed by Jesus for their lack of faith (Lk. 10), followed by a visit to Safed, one of the four holy cities of Judaism and the worldwide center of Jewish mysticism since the Middle Ages. Many of the most famous Rabbis and miracle workers of Judaism lived, taught, and are buried here, and to this day each year their tombs receive hundreds of thousands of Jews from around the world to pray and request favors. We will visit one of the medieval synagogues and then make a short stop at the tomb of Rashbi (died 160 AD), possibly the most revered Rabbi in Judaism. Then we will ascend the Golan Heights to Caesarea Philippi (now called Banias), where one of the sources of the Jordan River emerges from under a cliff on which a pagan temple once stood. It was here that Peter made his confession of faith, to which Jesus replied, “You are Peter, and on this Rock, I will build my church” (Mt. 16). We return to Galilee for dinner and overnight. (B, D)
This morning we visit the recently excavated Magdala, birthplace of Mary Magdalene the “Apostle to the Apostles”. Then we leave the region of Galilee and travel south through the Jordan River Valley to the region of Jericho, where several events central to salvation history in both the Old and the New Testament took place. Our first destination is the very spot on the Jordan river were John the Baptist baptized Jesus. There we will have the opportunity to renew our baptismal vows (Mk. 1:9). It is the very same spot where, under the leadership of Joshua, the Jews first entered the Promised Land after their forty years in the desert (Joshua 4), and where Elijah crossed the river and was taken up to heaven in the fiery chariot (2 Kings 2). Roy will speak on the deep Christological significance to these events having taken place at the same spot. Then, as Joshua did, we will proceed to nearby Jericho, where the Israelites encircled the city, blew the trumpets, and brought down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6). Towering over Jericho is the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus spent 40 days fasting and praying in the wilderness and faced the three temptations of the devil (Lk. 4). We will ascend the Mount (not on foot!) and pray at the cave where Jesus fasted, prayed, and was tempted. From there we continue through the Judean wilderness towards Jerusalem, passing the spot where the incident of the Good Samaritan took place. When we get to Bethany, we will stop to visit the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, where Jesus was often a guest, and at the tomb of Lazarus, from which Christ raised him from the dead. We then check into our hotel in Jerusalem, our home for the next four nights. (B, D)
In the morning we drive to the top of the Mount of Olives where we will have a panoramic view of Jerusalem and visit two sites located at the summit: the cave of the Pater Noster, where Jesus taught His disciples the “Our Father”, and the site of the Ascension, from where Jesus ascended into Heaven. We then proceed down the mount on the path Christ took on Palm Sunday. The first stop is Dominus Flevit, where Christ wept over Jerusalem “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (an excellent place to pray for the conversion of the Jews!). Further down the hill is Gethsemane, where Christ suffered the agony in the garden, and was betrayed by Judas’ kiss. We will be able to pray alongside the very rock where Christ prayed and sweated blood the night before His crucifixion. Across the road is a church built over the tomb in which, according to the belief of the Eastern Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary was briefly entombed prior to her Assumption. Next to it is the Grotto of Betrayal, where Judas betrayed Jesus and Jesus was arrested, and where the disciples slept while Jesus underwent His agony. We will also visit them to pray. In the afternoon we go to Mt. Zion and visit the Upper Room where Christ celebrated the Last Supper and the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered disciples; the reputed tomb of King David (directly underneath); and the nearby Church of the Dormition built on the spot from which, according to the Western tradition, Mary was assumed into heaven. Our final stop of the day is the church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, built over Caiaphas’ Palace. There we visit and pray in the dungeon in which Jesus was held the night before His crucifixion; alongside the steps up which Jesus was dragged after His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, and in the courtyard where Peter denied Jesus three times (B, D)
This day will be spent entirely in the Old City. We enter through St. Stephen’s Gate to visit the Church of St. Anne, where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born, and the adjacent Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the paralytic man. We continue to the site of Pontius Pilate’s palace and will descend to basement to the actual pavement on which the Jews gathered in front of the palace and cried out “Let His blood be on us and our children”. It is now the convent of an order founded by two Jewish converts to the Faith (the Ratisbonne brothers) expressly to pray for the conversion of the Jews. From there we proceed to Pilate’s Judgement Hall; the Chapel of Flagellation; and the Arch of Ecce Homo, where Pilate said, “Behold the man,” as Jesus was standing beside him scourged, bloody, and crowned with thorns. Prayerfully, we will walk the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There we can pray at the very site of the Crucifixion, place our hands in the hole in the rock into which the Cross was placed, venerate the spot where Jesus’ body was anointed, and pray at the tomb where Jesus lay and rose from the dead. Next, we go to the Wailing Wall, the holiest spot in Judaism since the destruction of the Temple 2000 years ago, because it was the closest the Jews could get to where it once stood. Our day ends with a trip to the spot, now a Dominican Priory, where St. Stephen was stoned to death while Saul (later St. Paul) held the cloaks. (B, D)
This morning we go to Bethlehem, where we rejoice in the birth of Our Lord and Savior, visiting and praying at holy sites associated with His Birth. We pray in the Shepherd’s Fields, where the angels appeared to the shepherds and announced the birth of Christ, then the Basilica of the Nativity built over the grotto where Jesus was born. We enter the grotto itself to visit the very spot of His birth and the Manger that cradled Him and the “Milk Cave” where the Blessed Virgin Mary nursed Him. We will also visit the cave where St. Jerome lived and translated the Hebrew Scriptures, and the location where the victims of the “slaughter of the innocents” were buried. Then we drive to Ein Karem, the birthplace of John the Baptist and the home of Elizabeth and Zachariah, where the Visitation took place. If time permits, we will also visit and pray at the tomb of Fr. Alphonse Ratisbonne, the Jewish convert who founded the order in the Holy Land to pray for the conversion of the Jewish people, and who was himself converted by a Church-approved Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Returning to Jerusalem we have our farewell dinner, celebrating our pilgrimage and sharing our most transformative experiences. (B, D)
Transfer to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to catch our return flight home. (B)
- Daily Mass at holy sites
- Roundtrip economy class airfare from Newark to Tel Aviv on United Airlines
- 9 nights’ accommodations, including taxes and service charges
- Porterage of one piece of luggage at airports and hotels
- Comprehensive sightseeing led by Roy Schoeman; whisper headsets; deluxe motor coach transportation to holy sites; all entrance fees listed on itinerary
- Breakfast and dinner per itinerary (excluding drinks)
- Farewell dinner on day 10