Holy Land in Eight Days and Seven Nights
Day 1: Home – Tel-Aviv – Galilee
After meeting your guide in Arrivals at Ben Gurion Airport, you begin your spiritual journey by exploring Caesarea Maritima, where the Roman link to the East eventually became the Christian catalyst to the West. (This, however, depends on your flight arrival time)
Dinner and lodging await you either in Nazareth or Tiberias.
Day 2: The ministry of Christ in the Galilee
We start the day by visiting the Basilica of the Annunciation, where the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, Son of God. Adjacent to the Basilica is St. Joseph Church, which was the house of Joseph and his Holy family.
Then we will take the picturesque drive along the Sea of Galilee to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. We continue to Tagbha to view the splendid mosaics representing the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes which Jesus fed five thousand (Mark 6:30-46). We visit the Church of St Peter’s Primacy, which honors Jesus reinstatement of Peter as Chief of the Apostles. Our route then takes us to Capernaum, the synagogue and place where early Christians remembered Peter’s house.
In order to absorb the main sites of Jesus ministry, we take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. Prior to our drive back to the hotel for dinner and lodging, we renew our Baptismal Vows in the Jordan River.
Day 3: Cana of Galilee – Transfiguration – Jericho – Jerusalem
We go to Cana of Galilee to the church where Jesus performed his first miracle of transforming a large quantity of water into wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). Here couples can renew their wedding vows.
We ascend Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration and visit the beautiful Basilica and the rock under the altar where the Transfiguration took place.
We proceed to admire the panoramas from Mount Tabor and take some time for meditation and reflection.
Descending the mountain, we travel through the plain of Jezreel (the breadbasket of Israel) and the Jordan Valley to Jericho, where we go to the Mount of Temptation and the Sycamore fig tree that Zaccheaus climbed in order to see Jesus. We continue the drive to Jerusalem or Bethlehem for dinner and lodging.
Day 4: Bethlehem – Ein Karem
We enter Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. We visit the Grotto of the Nativity, which the oldest continuously operating Christian church (Church of Nativity) sits atop. We continue to the Church of St. Catherine where the Patriarch of Jerusalem celebrates Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and we see the caves of St. Joseph and St. Jerome underneath the church.
Before the morning break, we go to Shepherds’ Field identified as the place where the Angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds watching over their flock during the night and informed them of Jesus’ birth.
In an ancient village of the Jerusalem District, we explore Ein Karem (Spring of the Vineyard), birthplace of St. John the Baptist (Church of the Birth of St. John the Baptist). We honor Mary’s (Jesus’ mother) visit and proclaimed “Magnificant” to Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother) at the Church of the Visitation. If time permits, we will visit the Holy Land Model prior to returning to the hotel for dinner and lodging.
Day 5: Introduction to Jerusalem
We drive to the top of Mount Olives for a panoramic view of Jerusalem and observe the key sites surrounding the area. We go to the Church of Peter Noster where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. We follow the Palm Sunday route to the Church of Dominus Flevit, where our Lord wept over the city. We continue our walk on the Palm Sunday route to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we see the rock of Agony where Jesus prayed before his crucifixion. Time will be allotted at the dimly-lit church for prayer and reflection.
Ascending the highest point of Mount Zion, we go to the Abbey of Dormition of Our Lady which is identified in Christian tradition as the place where the Virgin Mary died, and the Cenacle (Upper Room) known as the site of The Last Supper and Pentecost.
On the Eastern slope of Mount Zion, we visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu (meaning cock’s crow). This is in remembrance of Peter’s triple rejection of Jesus “…..before the cock crows thrice.” (Mark 14:30). The spot is also believed to be the location of the High Priest Caiaphas palace (high priest of the Jews), where Jesus was imprisoned for the night. Afterwards, we return to the hotel for dinner and lodging.
Day 6: Jerusalem, the Passion of Jesus' last hours
We explore the Old City of Jerusalem.
We begin in the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall, the site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries. We then ascend the Temple Mount and view the Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque, and the site where the Temple stood. We visit the Church of the St. Anne where the parents of the Virgin Mary lived, and the Pool of Bethesda described in St. John’s account of Jesus curing a paralyzed man.
We make our way to Pilate’s Judgment Hall “Antonia Fortress” where Jesus was condemned to death by the Pontius Pilate. “Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified” (John 19:16). From there, we retrace Jesus’ final footsteps on the path of Via Dolorosa (“Way of Grief” in Latin) where Jesus was lead in agony, carrying the crucifixion cross towards the Holy Sepulcher. There are a total of 14 Stations along this path through the market of the Old City. We pray at each of the fourteen Stations, reflecting on the greatness of his sacrifice until we reach the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher (Church of the Resurrection). We honor the Calvary “Golgotha” and the empty Tomb of our Lord. We then explore the different sections of the church. Free time is given for prayers and reflection before returning to the hotel for diner and lodging.
Day 7: The Wilderness: Bethany – Qumran – Masada – Dead Sea
On the southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, we visit the village of Bethany “House of Misery” to see the Tomb of St. Lazarus in which Jesus raised Lazarus from the Dead. From Bethany we drive 400m below sea level to the lowest place on earth “the Dead Sea” to the caves at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden. We will watch a three-dimensional movie about the area and visit an archeological site.
We continue to Masada and ascend the mountain by cable car to tour the 2000-year old fortress palace built by King Herod the Great and that last stronghold of the Jewish Zealots.
We conclude the day with time to enjoy basking in the sun at the beach or floating in the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea, renowned for its healing properties. You can also cover yourself from head to toe with Dead Sea much, which has unique therapeutic qualities and will leave your skin feeling soft.
Day 8: Jerusalem – Home
After a memorable journey in this historic region, it is time to say farewell.