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Pilgrimage to Israel: (12 days)
Focus on and experience the life and ministry of Jesus, the Apostles, Mary, and the roots of our faith!
Day 1 (Thurs. March 15) DEPARTURE
Afternoon departure from Toronto on a direct late afternoon flight to Tel Aviv with Air Canada. In-flight
Day 2 (Fri. March 16) TEL AVIV, JOPPA
Welcome to Israel! Morning arrival in Tel Aviv where we will be met by our Tour Guide. After boarding
our deluxe coach, we will start our pilgrimage with a visit to nearby Joppa (Jaffa) where St. Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and stayed at Simon the Tanner’s house. (Acts 9:36-43). Here we will celebrate Mass at the historic church of St. Peter’s. After lunch, we will transfer to our hotel on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, where you will have time to rest and freshen up. Dinner at our hotel in Tel Aviv (Grand Beach Hotel, 1 night)
Day 3 (Sat. March 17) CESAREA, MOUNT CARMEL, HAIFA
We start our day with a drive north through the beautiful Valley of Sharon to Caesarea, an ancient port built by King Herod in 22 B.C. It was here that St. Peter baptised the Roman soldier Cornelius after he had received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:1-48) St. Paul was imprisoned here for several years and gave an eloquent defense of his faith before King Agrippa. (Acts 23:22-32) We continue on to Mount Carmel, and the site of the prophet Elijah’s challenge to the pagan prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:1-40), and where St. Simon Stock in the 12’th century had a vision of the Blessed Mother giving him the Brown Scapular. We will celebrate Mass at Muhraqa (the scorching) in the Carmelite monastery of St. Elijah here, then We will stop for an incredible panoramic view of Haifa and the Bahai Gardens, and visit the Carmelite monastery there, before turning inland to visit Megiddo, one of King Solomon’s fortified cities, (1 Kings 9:15) which has a breathtaking view of the entire Valley of Jezreel, described by St. John the Evangelist as the future site of Armageddon (Rev 16:14-16). Then on to Tiberias and our lovely hotel on the shores of the beautiful Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight in Tiberias. (Kibbutz Maagan 3 nights)
Day 4 (Sun. March 18) CAPERNAUM, GOLAN HEIGHTS, MT. OF THE BEATITUDES
We begin our day with a splendid boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. It was here that Jesus called his first disciples while they were fishing (Mat 4:18-22), calmed the storm (Lk 8:22-25), and walked on water (Mt 14:22-32). Once back on shore, we will visit Tabgha, site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mk 6:30-44) and visit nearby Capernaum, where Jesus preached in the synagogue and healed many people (Mk 1:21-34). Then on to the majestic Golan Heights to visit Caesarea Philippi, site of St. Peter’s first profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. In return, Jesus declared Peter to be “the rock” upon which He would build His church (Mt 16:17-20). Following this, we continue on to the scenic Mount of the Beatitudes, site of Our Lord’s sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-28), where we will celebrate Mass. Dinner and overnight in beautiful Tiberias.
Day 5 (Mon. March 19) MOUNT TABOR, NAZARETH, ZIPPORI, CANA
This morning, we will enjoy spectacular views as we ascend to the top of mystical Mount Tabor, where
we will celebrate Mass in the Church of the Transfiguration (Lk 9:28-36). Then, on to nearby Nazareth, the home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Lk 2:39-40). Here, we will visit the Church of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38) and see the home the Holy Family lived in, and Mary’s well. After lunch, we will visit amazing Zippori National Park, with its magnificent mosaics and remnants of Greek, Roman, Jewish, Crusader and Ottoman civilizations. It is believed to have been the home of Anne and Joachim, Mary’s parents, and many scholars believe Jesus also spent time here. Our last stop for the day is Cana, where Jesus performed his first public miracle by changing water into wine during a wedding feast (Jn 2:1-11). Here, married couples will have the opportunity to renew their wedding vows. Dinner and overnight in Tiberias.
Day 6 (Tues. March 20) JORDAN RIVER, BEIT SHEAN
After breakfast, we will have a bit of time to relax here beside the picturesque sea where Jesus walked
on water, before our late morning Mass at St. Peter’s Church in Tiberias. Following this, we will drive to Yardenit, to renew our Baptismal vows in the Jordan River, and see the site where Jesus came to be baptized by John the Baptist (Mk 3:13-17). Then, we will spend time in Beit Shean, an ancient city dating from the time of King Saul, to view the beautiful mosaics, Roman bath-house, theatre, and walk the original colonnaded stone streets. The more adventurous members of the group will have time to climb to a viewpoint overlooking the extensive ruins and excavations here. This was the city where the bodies of King Saul and his son Jonathan were nailed to the walls by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10). We will then drive through the lush Jordan Valley and ascend through the Judean Wilderness to the Holy City of Jerusalem and our deluxe hotel ideally located a short walk from the Old City and shopping areas. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. (Prima Kings Hotel – 6 nights)
Day 7 (Wed. March 21) OLD JERUSALEM
Our day begins with a visit to the Mount of Olives, where we will enjoy the panoramic view of the Old
City of Jerusalem. We will visit the Chapel of the Ascension, and the Pater Noster Church where we will have the opportunity to pray the Lord’s Prayer in the very cave Jesus taught this to His disciples. We then walk down the “Palm Sunday Road”, stopping at the Franciscan chapel of Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept as He foresaw the ruin of Jerusalem (Lk 19: 41-44). From here, we will continue downhill to emerge at the Tomb of the Virgin Mary on the right and the Church of All Nations on our left. We will walk through the Garden of Gethsemane (or Garden of Olives), site of Jesus’ agony in the garden (Mt 25:36-46) to visit the church, where we will see the exposed rock of the Passion, located in front of the altar. Following this, our coach will bring us across the Kidron Valley to Mount Zion, to the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, built on the location of Caiphus’ house where Jesus was taken after he was arrested in the Garden of Olives. Beside the church are the original stairs Jesus would have climbed as a prisoner that night. The courtyard here was the scene of St. Peter’s disgrace when he denied Jesus three times, as Our Lord had foretold. Galli-cantu means cockcrow in Latin. Under the church is a dungeon thought to be the cell where Jesus was detained for the night following his arrest, which we will be able to view. Then we will visit the Tomb of King David, and in the same location, the room marking the site of the Upper Room of the Last Supper. Our final part of the day will be spent walking the Via Dolorosa, where we will first celebrate Mass at the Lithostrostos, the Antonio Fortress where Jesus was condemned to death. We will continue on to the Chapels of Condemnation and Flagellation, and begin to pray the Stations of the Cross as we make our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the holiest site in all of Christianity, where Our Lord was crucified, buried, and rose to life again (Jn 1:20-30). Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Day 8 (Thurs. March 22) NEW JERUSALEM, EIN KEREM, BETHLEHEM
After breakfast, we will drive up through the lovely Judean Hills to Ein Kerem, birthplace of St. John the Baptist, where we will celebrate Mass at the beautiful Church of the Visitation, where Our Blessed Mother visited her cousin Elizabeth while pregnant with Jesus and proclaimed the Magnificat (Lk 1:39-56. Then, on to visit the Model City of Jerusalem, built to resemble the city as it was in the time of Jesus, then Yad Vashem, Israel’s unforgettable memorial to the Holocaust. We will continue to the Israel Museum and visit the Shrine of the Book housing the Dead Sea scrolls, then drive to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, where we will be able to photograph the large Menorah symbolizing the state of Israel. After lunch, we will visit nearby Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, site of Jesus’ birth (Mt 2:1-12). We will tour the Church of St. Catherine, with three caves found beneath the Sanctuary. Two of these caves house the Chapel of St. Jerome, who lived here when he translated the Old and New Testaments into Latin (The Vulgate). The adjacent Chapel of the Innocents recalls the terror of Herod the Great, who ordered the slaughter of the male children of Bethlehem. At the end of our day, time to shop for souvenirs in Manger Square and visit the Shepherds’ Field, where the shepherds heard angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest” at the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:1-20). Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Day 9 (Fri. March 23) OLD JERUSALEM
This morning, we will visit the Western Wall, also known as The Wailing Wall, and have an opportunity
to pray here and leave written prayers inserted into the cracks between stones, as has been the custom for pilgrims for centuries. Following this, we will view The Temple Mount. After lunch, we will celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Anne, built by the Crusaders alongside the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a man who had been sick for 38 years. Then we go back in time as we visit the Archeological
Park bordering the southern wall of the Temple Mount. Here, we will climb the steps where Jesus cast out the money-lenders (Mk 11:15-17) and walk on the very same streets and stones that Jesus and His disciples walked along. After this, we will visit the Garden Tomb, regarded by our Protestant brothers and sisters as another possible site of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Although this is outside Catholic tradition, it gives a vivid perspective on what the actual tomb of Jesus may have looked like. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Day 10 (Sat. March 24) MASADA, DEAD SEA, QUMRAN
This morning, we will leave early to drive south to Qaser El Yahud, (also known as the Jew’s palace), the Baptismal site on the River Jordan where it is believed St. John the Baptist actually baptized Jesus (Lk 3:21-22). Here we will celebrate Mass. After Mass, begin our scenic drive along the shores of the Dead Sea to Massada, Herod’s fortress and last stronghold of Jewish resistance to the Romans in 70-73 AD. Ascend this spectacular mountain by cable car where you will experience a stunning view of the entire Dead Sea region. Ezekiel describes in his vision s river flowing out from the temple in Jerusalem into the Dead Sea and making its salt water fresh (Ez 47:1-12). We will tour the beautifully restored archeological remains of luxurious palaces, mosaic floors, a synagogue and many other fascinating artefacts. In the afternoon, we will pause for a float in the buoyant and therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea, the lowest accessible point on earth. Then we continue on along its arid shores to Qumran, home of the Essences, and see the caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 11 (Sun. March 25) JERUSALEM
On our final morning in this incredible city, we start our day by celebrating Mass at a nearby church. The remainder of the day will be free for further exploration, shopping or rest & packing. This is an opportunity to walk the Old City walls with its panoramic views of the Old City. Farewell dinner and overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 12 (Mon. March 26) RETURN TO CANADA
We will say farewell to Israel and embark from Tel Aviv on our late morning Air Canada direct flight to
** THE ITINERARY IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AND MAY VARY IN THE ORDER YOU VISIT**
***HOTELS AS LISTED OR SIMILAR***