Pilgrimage to the Holy Land - September 8, 2020
Galilee | Jerusalem | Judean Wilderness
A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a walk into layers of Scripture, history, and faith. Your feet touch soil left by the first Christians over 2,000 years ago as you walk in the footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles. Come visit the places where Jesus healed the sick, preached the faith, and died for our salvation. See the empty tomb and stand upon the mount from which He ascended to Heaven, promising that He would always be with us until the end of the ages (Matthew 28:20).
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 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)
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) Our last site of this grace-filled day is 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.
We begin this morning by checking out at our hotel and driving to Magdala, birthplace of St. Mary Magdalene, known as “the Apostle to the Apostles,” where we will visit the chapel and surrounding ruins. Continue our drive south through the Jordan River Valley to the traditional baptismal site of Jesus. 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 Jericho, the oldest known city in the Western world. In 1250 B.C., Joshua encircled the city, trumpets blasting, and the walls came tumbling down (Joshua 6). From the top of the ancient “tel”, we’ll have an excellent view of Elisha’s Fountain, the Qarantal and the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus fasted and prayed forty days to resist the devil. Proceed 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.
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 and was built by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. 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 Jerusalem, where the remainder of the day will be free.
We enter the Old City of Jerusalem this morning 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. This afternoon, 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.
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 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 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.