15 Day Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Rev Fr John McSweeney PP – Departs 6 January 2018
Highlights: Amman, Jordan / Mount Nebo / Dead Sea / Bethany Beyond the Jordan / Baptismal site of Jesus / Jericho / Mt of Temptation / Bethlehem / Shepherd’s Field / Church of the Nativity / Crusader port city of Caesarea / Nazareth / Basilica of the Annunciation / Mount of Beatitudes / Tiberias on the shores of Lake Galilee / Capernaum / Sowers Bay / Magdala / Nof Ginosar Kibbutz / Private Mass floating in the centre of Lake Galilee / Korazin / Tabgha / Church of the Primacy of Peter / Mt Tabor / Cana / Haifa / Mt Carmel / Emmaus / Abu Gosh, biblical Kirya-Jearim / Israel Museum / Shrine of the Book to view the Dead Sea Scrolls / Mt of Olives / Tombs of the Prophets Haggai, Malachi and Zechariah / Dominus Flevit / Garden of Gethsemane / Church of St Peter in Gallicantu / Stations of the Cross / Cenacle room of the Last Supper / Church of Dormition / Ecce Homo convent / Via Dolorosa / Holy Sepulchre / Temple Mount to view the Dome of the Rock, El Aqsa Mosque and the Wailing Wall / Pool of Bethesda and much more.
Tour Code: 8PV03
Departs Australia: 6th January 2018
Cost Per Person: $6390 (Incl. Tax)
Single Room Supplement: $1530
Prepaid Tipping: Included
Tour Code: 8PV03P
Cost Per Person: $820
Single Room Supplement: $220
*Costs have been based on prices as at December 2016 and must remain subject to possible change in the unlikely event of significant exchange rate variations, airfare increases and minimum group size (35) contingencies.
Airfares: Economy class flying Emirates (N.B. Airlines taxes are included on standard itinerary and subject to fluctuations).
Accommodation & Meals: Based on moderate hotel accommodation throughout with breakfast and dinner daily
Miscellaneous inclusions: • Deluxe AirConditioned Motor coach with driver • Local tour escort/guide • Sightseeing and entrance fees throughout itinerary • Prepaid Tipping • Jordan Visa
Not Included: Passport and additional Visa Costs (if applicable) • Other meals not stated • Items of a personal nature including phone calls, laundry, beverages, etc. • Travel insurance (Harvest will recommend a special group policy rate).
MEAL CODE: B: Breakfast L: Lunch D: Dinner
DAY 1: Saturday 6th January 2018 – Depart for the Holy Land
DAY 2: Sunday 7th January 2018 – Via Mt Nebo to the Dead Sea
This morning we fly into Amman and immediately travel west to ascend Biblical Mt Nebo for a spectacular Mass. Here, at the site where the Old Testament opened its door to the land of the New, Moses looked over into the Promised Land and blessed Joshua who was to lead the Israelites under God’s protection (Joshua 1:6–9). It has been possible for archaeologists to identify this sanctuary, thanks to the records left by two pilgrim-visitors of the fourth and fifth centuries of their travels in this region. One of these was Egeria, the pilgrim nun.
His Holiness Benedict XVI, on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2009, said this while here on Mt Nebo: “Here, on the heights of Mount Nebo, the memory of Moses invites us to ‘lift up our eyes’ to embrace with gratitude not only God’s mighty works in the past, but also to look with faith and hope to the future which he holds out to us and to our world.” We too can seize this opportunity to thank God for our journey thus far and anticipate the blessings that are to come.
We then arrive at the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea to check-in to our beautiful hotel located down on the shore. Here we will unwind and take the optional opportunity to float in the salty waters said to have healing qualities. The experience is quite uplifting!
Dead Sea overnight (D)
DAY 3: Monday 8th January 2018 – Meet the refugees
Today we have the opportunity to meet and talk with many refugees who have fled their homelands and settled in Jordan.
Following lunch with the Refugees we return to our hotel for free time
Dead Sea overnight (BLD)
DAY 4: Tuesday 9th January 2018 – Dead Sea to Bethlehem via Jericho
Our pilgrimage starts this morning with a visit to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, one of the most recent archaeological and religious discoveries. The five springs here form a tributary of the Jordan River, believed to be the Baptismal site of Jesus by John the Baptist. So authentic is this site that His Holiness Benedict XVI chose this as an essential place to visit on his last pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will celebrate Mass, renew our Baptismal promises and see the beautiful Orthodox Church (also the Catholic Church in construction).
Continue west across the Jordan River border into the Holy Land of Israel known as the land of the “fifth Gospel”, where we travel to Jericho the ‘City of Palms’ which is said to be the oldest inhabited city and most famous oasis. Across the valley we see the Mt of Temptation, the site of Jesus’ fast of 40 days and there are enough stones to illustrate Satan’s words “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves”. We then continue to Bethlehem, the City of David – the perfect way to begin our pilgrimage through the life of Jesus.
Bethlehem overnight (BD)
DAY 5: Wednesday 10th January 2018 – Bethlehem & Surrounds
We commence our day with a special visit to Bethlehem’s Holy Child Program, a school for underprivileged children of both Christian and Muslim backgrounds. We will learn of the extraordinary work of this organisation in upholding the dignity of these children’s lives before opening our hearts and minds to serve alongside them.
We travel on to Shepherd’s Field to commemorate the appearance of the angels to the shepherds on that first Christmas night (Lk 2:8–16). We celebrate our group Mass here in a local cave. Return to Bethlehem where we will visit the Church of the Nativity built over the stable where Jesus was born. Bending low, we enter the church through the Door of Humility and descend into the Grotto of the Holy Manger. A silver star in the floor marks the very spot where Christ was born. The star’s inscription reads in Latin: Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus Natus Est (Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ was born).
Bethlehem overnight (BD)
DAY 6: Thursday 11th January 2018 – Via Nazareth to Galilee
We journey north to the crusader port city of Caesarea to see the maritime city built by Herod the Great and once the Roman capital of Israel. It was here the centurion Cornelius was baptized by Peter, becoming the first gentile convert to Christianity (Acts 10), and where Festus tried Paul (Acts 25: 6–12). Visit the impressive excavations, the amphitheatre and the Herodian port.
Continue on towards Nazareth, the town of Jesus’ childhood. Here we will enter inside the Basilica of the Annunciation where a traditional cave becomes the focal point of Mary’s response “Let it be done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). Celebrate a touching Eucharist here. Also see the Church of St Joseph.
Travelling east, we come to Mount of Beatitudes as we take time in this special place to ponder Jesus’ message of happiness – the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1–12).
We then continue on to Tiberias on the shores of Lake Galilee … “Go to Galilee and you will find him there” (Mt 28:7).
Sea of Galilee overnight (BD)
DAY 7: Friday 12th January 2018 – Sea of Galilee
Our memorable Galilee day begins in Capernaum, the centre of Jesus’ teaching and healing and home to Peter the Apostle (Mt 4:12–20). After exploring this site, we travel through Sowers Bay and reflect on the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1–9) before continuing through Magdala, the town of Mary Magdalene.
Visit the Nof Ginosar Kibbutz, within which is preserved the remains of a 1st century fishing boat as in the days of Christ. We then set off from the shore in a traditional sailing vessel to encounter one of our most memorable pilgrimage highlights – a Private Mass floating in the centre of Lake Galilee with engines switched off. Here we will recall the miracles of Jesus calming the storm and appearing to the apostles walking on this very water. After Mass, we will continue back to the shore for our special ‘St Peter’s fish’ lunch.
Travel this afternoon around the lake to Korazin to relive the parables of the House built on the rock and the persevering widow. Journey on to Tabgha, site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mt 14:20), before an important stop at the Church of the Primacy of Peter where Jesus challenged Peter and each one of us ‘Do you really love me, feed my sheep’. Here we will spend some quiet time to reflect and pray by the shore of the lake.
Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD)
DAY 8: Saturday 13th January 2018 – Mt Tabor & Cana
We travel out this morning to the foot of Mt Tabor before ascending by taxis up the narrow winding road leading to the majestic summit. Here Our Lord’s divinity shone forth in the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1–2). After a memorable Mass in this breathtaking setting we will better understand Peter’s words ‘Lord it is good for us to be here’.
Continue on to the village of Cana where Jesus, at the request of His Mother, performed his first miracle transforming the water into wine at the wedding feast (Jn 2:1–11). Here, married couples may take the opportunity to renew their wedding vows, and single and widowed pilgrims will receive a special blessing.
Enjoy a free afternoon at leisure.
Sea of Galilee overnight (BD)
DAY 9: Sunday 14th January 2018 – Via Mt Carmel to Jerusalem
Departing Lake Galilee, we travel west to Haifa, the largest city in northern Israel and the third largest city in the country. The Mediterranean Sea wraps around three sides of Haifa with intoxicating blue and gold beaches. On arrival we will spend some time at the House of Grace, a Catholic ministry that works with the most marginalised members of Haifa: Christians, Jews and Muslims who are in need of counselling, guidance, and material aid.
In this region we will also visit Mount Carmel where Elijah smote the false prophets and where we will visit the Carmelite Monastery, Chapel of the Holy Family and Elijah’s cave where we celebrate Holy Mass.
We reboard our coach this afternoon as finally our pilgrimage draws us up to Jerusalem – ‘the City of our God’.
Jerusalem overnight (BD)
DAY 10: Monday 15th January 2018 – Emmaus, Abu Gosh, Bethlehem University & Israel Museum
Today we journey to Emmaus, where the Disciples recognised the risen Jesus at the breaking of bread and exclaimed “Did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us on the road?” (Lk 24:13–35).
Following Mass we proceed to Abu Gosh, biblical Kirya-Jearim, where David brought the Ark to Jerusalem. We then return to Bethlehem where we will visit the renowned Bethlehem University, a Catholic co-educational institution providing higher education to the people of Palestine. After an orientation tour we will enjoy a meal prepared by the hospitality students.
Continue to the Israel Museum this morning where we have an orientation viewing of the Second Temple scale model of Jerusalem as it was in the time of Jesus. Then proceed to the Shrine of the Book to view the Dead Sea Scrolls with our own eyes.
Jerusalem overnight (BLD)
DAY 11: Tuesday 16th January 2018 – Jerusalem
We proceed to the Mt of Olives this morning where we will firstly visit the Church of the ‘Pater Noster’ commemorating the site where Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer (Mt 6:7–15). We then enjoy a panoramic view over the city and a spectacular photographic opportunity. As we commence our walk down the Palm Sunday Road, we wander past the tombs of the Prophets Haggai, Malachi and Zechariah before arriving at the Dominus Flevit for Mass. This church was built on the site where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem (Lk 19:41–44).
We then visit the Garden of Gethsemane, where we will enter the Church of the Agony containing the bare rock upon which Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. The outside garden contains olive trees, the roots of which go back to the time of Jesus.
From here we see the path Jesus was taken along as a prisoner while ascending Mt Zion to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas. Here, at the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, Our Lord was interrogated and imprisoned, while Peter denied Jesus three times. Continue on to the Cenacle, room of the Last Supper and the Church of Dormition where Our Lady was assumed into heaven.
Before dinner we will meet representatives of the Parents Circle – this is a joint Israeli-Palestinian organisation made up of more than 600 bereaved families. Their common bond is that they have lost a close family member to the conflict. Instead of choosing revenge, they have chosen a path of reconciliation.
Jerusalem overnight (BD)
DAY 12: Wednesday 17th January 2018 – Jerusalem
We commence early this morning our Stations of the Cross, beginning from the Antonia Fortress where Jesus was condemned to death. See the Lithostrotos (pavement) in the Ecce Homo convent. Visit nearby the Flagellation and Condemnation Chapels as we pray and follow in Our Lord’s footsteps along the actual Via Dolorosa to the site of Calvary where we will celebrate Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Walk the stairway climbing to the actual site where the Cross of Jesus once stood. The glass panels reveal the natural rock below which we may come to touch with our pilgrim hands. Also enter the Edicule containing the tomb where Our Lord rose from the dead.
After breakfast we travel to the vicinity of the Temple Mount to view the Dome of the Rock, El Aqsa Mosque and the Wailing Wall. Then we come to the Church of St Anne, said to be built over the birthplace of the Virgin Mary, and visit the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralysed man (Jn 5:2–9).
Free time this afternoon.
Jerusalem overnight (BD)
DAY 13: Thursday 18th January 2018 – Jerusalem
Today enjoy a free day to further explore Jerusalem and its surrounds. For our final night in Jerusalem we enjoy a special farewell dinner.
Jerusalem overnight (BD)
DAY 14: Friday 19th January 2018 – Depart the Holy Land
Today we farewell the Holy Land and are transferred to Amman airport for our homebound flights. (B)
DAY 15: Saturday 20th January 2018 – Arrive Australia