CHR # 06: Pilgrimage Egypt & The Holy Land

10 Day – 9 Nights

Day 01: Arrival – CAIRO

Upon arriving in Cairo, we are welcomed by our Pilgrimage Tours tour director.  We board our motor coach and transfer to our hotel in Cairo.  Dinner and overnight in Cairo (Dinner).

Day  02: CAIRO

Our day begins with our tour of the Pyramids of Giza.  Cheops Pyramid, the largest of the three, was in the 3rd dynasty, around 2690 BC and is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  In front of the Pyramids of Chephren, we find the Sphinx carved from a single piece of stone; representing a lion with a Pharaoh’s head.  Next we have the opportunity for a camel ride in the shadows of the ancient pyramids.  While in Old Cairo, where many of the first Christians lived, we visit the Hanging Church and see the Coptic Church and an ancient synagogue.  Next we visit the Egyptian Museum, home to the priceless treasures of Tutankhamen, “King Tut,” and other world-famous relics.  We return to our hotel in Cairo for dinner and overnight (Breakfast, Dinner)


This morning we depart for the Biblical Mt. Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments.  We travel through the Sinai desert situated between the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba.  At the southern end of the peninsula is a mass of granite mountains, some of which are 8,000 feet above see level.  The chief peak is Jebel Musa , “Mountain of Moses” or Mt. Sinai.  Here we celebrate Mass.  Dinner and overnight at the base of Mt. Sinai (Breakfast, Dinner).


Very early in the morning, we will have the opportunity to climb to the summit of Mt. Sinai to see the sunrise.  Then upon our descent, we will visit the 1,400 year old Monastery of of Alexandria, which was named after the 4th century martyr whose bones were supposedly carried here by angels after her death.  We will also see the well where Moses met his wife and the site of the Burning Bush.  Then transfer to the Egypt-Israel border at Taba to cross over into the Holy Land.  Continue traveling north to the Dead Sea for some beach time at the Dead Sea – the absolute lowest point on Earth where the salty water is so buoyant that sinking is IMPOSSIBLE.  Dinner and overnight at the Dead Sea (Breakfast, Dinner).


This morning, we will start the day with a drive along the western shores of the Dead Sea to Masada. 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 66-73 AD.  We see the remains of the fortifications, synagogue, storehouses, cisterns, and the 6th century Byzantine Church.  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 we drive to Jericho.  From the top of the Ancient “tel” we’ll have an excellent view of Elisha’s Fountain, the Qarantal and the Mount of Temptation.  We continue on to Mt. Tabor and ascend to the summit of Mount Tabor to see the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus and the beautiful scenery of the Valley of Jezreel.  We end our day with a mass at the Church of Transfiguration before departing for Tiberias for dinner and overnight (Breakfast, Dinner).


This morning we take a drive up to the Mount of the Beatitudes and  retell the ’Sermon on the Mount’ and celebrate Mass while standing on the Mount of Beatitudes looking out over the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee.  Next we visit Tabgha (Heptagagon, “seven springs”), where the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is commemorated in the mosaic floors of the historic Church.  Next we visit 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.  In the afternoon, 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’.  Finally, we head to the foot of Mt. Hermon and ascend the Golan Plateau for a panoramic view of upper Galilee, descending to modern-day Banias (Caesaria Philippi) where Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ “conferred the keys” upon Peter.  We have dinner and stay overnight at our hotel on the Sea of Galilee in Tiberias (Breakfast, Dinner).


After breakfast, 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.  Continuing on to Nazareth where Jesus grew up, we celebrate Mass in the oldest of the churches of the Annunciation.  While in Nazareth, we make visits to Mary’s Well and the Church of St. Joseph, site of Joseph’s carpentry shop.  Next we visit Haifa where we see the St. Peter by the Sea Shrine.  Next we visit the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and see Elijah’s Cave.  We also visit the nearby Stella Maris convent.  Next we visit Caesarea by the Sea and its sand dunes along the Mediterranean coast, 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.  We continue on to 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 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.  At the Kidron Valley, we pass the tombs of Absalom, Zechariah and St. James, which are partially built and partially hewn directly into the limestone cliffs.  Next we enter St. Stephen’s gate we see the open air Pool of Bethesda where Jesus performed a miracle cure and the infirm have sought healing for centuries.  We stop for a visit to St. Anne’s and an opportunity to participate in group song.  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 take over and handle our own cross as we 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.  Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem (Breakfast, Dinner).


Today we travel the short route to 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.  It is here in St. Jerome’s chapel that we celebrate Mass.  While in Bethlehem, we have time for shopping beautiful Olive wood carvings and other Israeli crafts in Bethlehem.  We depart Manger Square and enjoy lunch at the Shepherd’s Valley Tourist Village, followed by a visit to Shepherd’s Field and some of the caves that are typical of the stables of Jesus’ time.  The remainder of our day is free.  We return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight (Breakfast, Dinner).

Day 10: BETHANY – MOUNT ZION – EIN KAREM – Departure

Our day begins late morning on the Eastern slope of the Mount of Olives where we see the Good Samaritan Inn, Bethany, where we will visit the home of Mary and Martha and enter the Tomb of Lazarus where Jesus “cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth” and Lazarus was risen from the dead.  Next we visit Mount Zion. The Upper Room (Room of the Last Supper and Pentecost) is 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.  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.  We celebrate Mass here at St. Peter Caiaphas.  In the late afternoon we visit Ein Karem, the birthplace of John the Baptist, and the Church of the Visitation.  We celebrate Mass at the Church of the Visitation.  This evening we enjoy a “Farewell Dinner” at a local restaurant.  Following dinner, we proceed to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport for Departure (Breakfast, Dinner).

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