Day 1 : TEL AVIV
Arrive Tel Aviv. Meet and assist with our Guide and taken then board our motor coach to transfer to our hotel on the Mediterranean Sea. Dinner and overnight in Tel Aviv (Dinner).
Day 2 : CAESAREA – MOUNT CARMEL – HAIFA – NAZARETH – CANA – TIBERIAS
After breakfast. Drive north along the sand dunes of the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea by the Sea, built by King Herod just a decade before the birth of Jesus. The spectacular ruins were once the home of Pontius Pilate and the site of the trial of the Apostle Paul. Ascending the heights of Mount Carmel for one Israel’s best views high above the Mediterranean we see the place where the prophet Elijah was instrumental in the defeat of the prophets of Ba’al. Here we visit the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and see Elijah’s Cave. Next we visit Haifa, where we see the St. Peter by the Sea Shrine. We continue on to Nazareth where Jesus grew up, we celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the Annunciation, where the archangel Gabriel told Mary that she would “bring forth a son”. After visits to Mary’s Well and the Church of St. Joseph, site of Joseph’s carpentry shop, we proceed to Cana where for a renewal of wedding vows where Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at the wedding feast. Dinner and overnight in Tiberias (Breakfast, Dinner).
After breakfast we depart for the Mt. Beatitudes where we retell the ’Sermon on the Mount’ while standing on the Mount of Beatitudes looking out over the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. Next we take a classic boat ride across the tranquil waters of the Sea of Galilee recalling the miracle of walking on water and calling on Peter and Andrew to become ‘fishers of men’. Next we see Tabgha ( “seven springs”), where the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is commemorated in the mosaic floors of the historic Church. We visit the nearby Church of the Primacy on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where Peter received his commission from Jesus to “feed my lambs”. Next, in the town where Jesus’ ministry was centered, Capernaum, we see the remains of an early Church, the ruins of Peter’s House, and the ancient synagogue where Jesus preached. Here we celebrate Mass. Next we enjoy our “St. Peter’s Lunch” on the Sea of Galilee. The remainder of our day is free to enjoy as we choose. Dinner and overnight at our hotel on the Sea of Galilee in Tiberias (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner).
We leave Galilee for our journey to Judea through Samaria. En route we ascend Mount Tabor– the Mount of Transfiguration. We see the place of the transfiguration in one of the most beautiful churches in the Holy Land at the summit of the dome like mountain. Here we enjoy a celebration of Mass. Next we descend to the Jordan River to experience the place where John the Baptist immersed Jesus, renewing our baptismal promises in the cleansing waters. A drive through the lush Jordan valley brings us to the oldest city in the world, Jericho, where you can still see pot shards and walk on actual remains of the famed wall that came “tumblin’ down”. From Jericho, we enter the harshness of the Judean desert that underscores the trying moment at the Mount of Temptation where, after 40 days of fasting, Jesus was tempted by Satan and prevailed. We turn toward Jerusalem via the Old Roman Road where we will see the Monastery of St. George built up against the cliffs above the Wadi Qelt. We arrive in Jerusalem for dinner and overnight (Breakfast, Dinner).
Our day begins with a dramatic view of the walled Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives where we participate in a group photo. This is followed by a visit to the Church of Pater Noster where Jesus taught the “Our Father”, and the Chapel of the Ascension. Next we walk down the hill known as the “Palm Sunday Road”, to Dominus Flevit Chapel on the site where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. A stop at the Church of the Assumption is the beautiful place of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. Next, we proceed to the Garden of Gethsemane to celebrate Mass outdoors, followed by a visit to the Church of All Nations. Next we arrive at the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu – the House of Caiaphas, we see the place of the trial of Jesus and where Peter denied Christ three times. Next we travel the short route to the Shepherd’s Valley Tourist Village , followed by a visit to the Shepherd’s Field with its caves that were typical of the stables of Jesus’ time. It is here where the angel appeared to the shepherds and led them to Bethlehem. Next we arrive in Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus, where we will spend some time in prayer at the site of Jesus’ birth inside the Church of the Nativity, St. Catherine’s, the Grotto of the Holy Family, and the Cave of St. Jerome. While in Bethlehem, we have time for shopping beautiful Olive wood carvings and other Israeli crafts in Bethlehem. We depart Manger Square and return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 6: JERUSALEM
This morning we enter through the Dung Gate and go up to the Western Wall, currently Judaism’s holiest site where people from around the world come to pray. Next we visit the Dome of the Rock. Next we pay a visit to St. Anne’s and an opportunity to sing a hymn and then see the open air Pool of Bethesda where Jesus performed a miracle cure and the infirm have sought healing for centuries. Next we recall the final hours of Jesus’ life at Pilate’s Judgment Hall, the Chapel of Flagellation and the Arch of the Ecce Homo “Behold, the man”, the Lithostrotos where we see the ancient carvings in the stone floor of the basement. From here we will walk and pray along the Via Dolorosa – the “Stations of the Cross” where Jesus carried and fell beneath the weight of his cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We’ll celebrate Mass in this most holy of places followed by some time to explore this place of Jesus’ tomb. From here we walk the “Cardo” and enter the Jewish Quarter of the Old City to explore its shops and culture. The rest of our afternoon is at leisure for prayer and reflection. (Breakfast, Dinner).
After breakfast, we journey east into the Southern Judean Desert. At Masada we ascend by cable car on a spectacular ride to the top of the fortress palace of Herod, which was made famous by Jewish Zealots during the Roman siege from 70-73 AD. We see the remains of the fortifications, synagogue, storehouses, cisterns, and the 6th century Byzantine Church. Next at Qumran you will look, literally only a stones throw away, into the cave where the original Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Interestingly, they were found when a Bedouin boy broke a clay jar by throwing a stone into the cave. Next, its beach time at the Dead Sea – the absolute lowest point on Earth where the salty water is so buoyant that sinking is IMPOSSIBLE. Returning towards Jerusalem, on the Eastern slope of the Mount of Olives we will see the home of Mary and Martha and the Tomb of Lazarus where Jesus “cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth” and Lazarus was risen from the dead. We have dinner and stay overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem (Breakfast, Dinner).
This morning we will visit a couple of important museums. First we visit the Israeli Museum and see its model of the Second Temple as it was in the time of Jesus, as well as the “Shrine of the Book”, with its Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, followed by a visit to nearby Yad Vashem Museum, Israel’s “national holocaust museum”. Next we arrive in the traditional location of Emmaus, in the town of Abu Ghosh where we visit its beautiful Emmaus church. Next we arrive in Ein Karem in time for lunch, followed by a visit to the birthplace of John the Baptist, and to the Church of the Visitation. It is here where the Blessed Virgin Mary proclaimed her famous hymn of thanksgiving known as the Magnificat. Next we visit Mount Zion where we find The Upper Room, (Room of the Last Supper and Pentecost) a place of prayer, song and praise. One of Jerusalem’s landmarks, the Dormition Abbey represents Mary having passed into eternal life, asleep, in grand Byzantine décor. The remainder of our afternoon is free for further exploration around Jerusalem’s many holy places. This evening we enjoy a “Farewell Dinner” at a local restaurant. Following dinner, we proceed to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport (Breakfast, Dinner).