Pilgrimage to the Holy Land & Jordan

09 Day / 8 nights
Arrive Tel Aviv. Transfer to hotel for dinner and overnight (D).
After breakfast, we 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. Continuing 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 (B, D).
After breakfast we depart for the Beatitudes where we retell the ’Sermon on the Mount’ following by our own celebration of Mass 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 (Heptagagon, “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. 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 (B, D).
This morning 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 drive through the Jordan Valley to Sheikh Hussein Bridge and cross over into Jordan. We arrive in the spectacular, ancient city of Jerash, the grandest survivor of the Decapolis, its great pillars and theatre still untoppled. Jerash is situated on lush land with lovely green foliage year round from its collection of various Oaks and Pines. Here we will see Hadrian’s Arch, the Hippodrome, the Oval Plaza and Theatre, the Cardo and the Temples of Artemis and Zeus. We continue on to Amman and enjoy an orientation tour of this ancient city to include a visit the 2nd century Roman Amphitheater, as well as the Roman ruins of the Citadel and visit the Archaeological Museum. Dinner and overnight in Amman (B, D).
This morning we depart for a day-trip to Petra. We arrive in Petra, the “Rose Red City”. Visiting this ancient Endomite and Nabatean capital with its famed gorge, ancient streets, dwellings and tombs, as well as incredibly beautiful temples carved into its multi-colored sandstone, is an extraordinary experience. Late afternoon we return to Amman for dinner and overnight (B, D).
This morning we visit Mount Nebo where God showed Moses the Promised Land. Here we celebrate Mass at the Franciscan church. Next we depart Jordan via the Allenby Bridge and 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 “tumbling down”. At Masada we ascend by cable car on a spectacular ride to the top of the fortress palace of Herod. 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. - At Qumran you will look, literally only a stones throw away, into the cave where the original Dead Sea Scrolls were found. We turn toward Jerusalem via the Wadi Qelt, the old Roman road where we will see the Monastery of St. George built up against the cliffs. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem (B, D).
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 and 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 for lunch, 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 our hotel in Jerusalem. This evening, dinner is on our own at a local restaurant. Overnight in Jerusalem (B, D).
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, dinner and overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem (B,D).
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 V’shem Museum, Israel’s “national holocaust museum”. 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, where we celebrate Mass. 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. This evening we enjoy a “Farewell Dinner” at a local restaurant. Following dinner, we proceed to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport for departure. (B,D).
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