Holy Land Pilgrimage
What is a pilgrimage?
In short, it is an opportunity to:
- walk along the way of the Lord
- find renewal and comfort in one’s Christian identity
- carry out the Church’s mission of solidarity and reconciliation
- draw strength from the generations of Christians who made the pilgrimage before
- explore the depths of one’s faith
What is a spiritual director? Why are they important?
Our pilgrimage will be accompanied by a Franciscan Spiritual Director who will welcome us at Ben Gurion Airport. They will accompany us throughout the pilgrimage and make the scriptures come alive as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus!
Spiritual Directors are responsible for leading Mass, prayer throughout the day, daily reflections, and faith sharing sessions. Essentially, they act as a spiritual tour guide throughout the pilgrimage!
What do our stops mean?
DAY 3 ~
Mt. Carmel is the site of Elijah’s sacrificial contest with the prophets of Baal and Ashereh. In this bible story (1 Kings 18:16-45), the Lord proves his power to the Israelites after the pagan deity failed to do so. Mt. Carmel (and the Muhraqa shrine) is seen as a symbol of beauty and fertility throughout the bible.
‘Surely one shall come who looms up like Tabor among the mountains, Or like Carmel by the sea‘ ~ Psalm 89:12
Mt. Tabor is considered by tradition to be the site of the transfiguration of our Lord and has been referred to as a symbol of majesty and greatness. The mountain is also known to be a site of the Lord’s intervention during battle. Pilgrims visit this spot as a reminder of the greatness of God and the greatness of the world He has given us. Crowning the mountain is the Basilica of the Transfiguration, part of a Franciscan monastery complex completed in 1924 among the three chapels atop Mount Tabor.
DAY 4 ~
Not much needs to be explained when it comes to visiting Cana, it’s the site of Jesus’ first miracle when he turns water into wine for a wedding! From Cana, our pilgrims will visit Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth and then travel across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, a site of more of Jesus’ miracles! Capernaum allows pilgrims to travel back to the time of Jesus and sit on the ancient stone benches where Jesus would have sat and walk the streets He would have walked.
DAY 5 ~
The Jordan River holds special significance to Judaism and Christianity as where the Israelites crossed into the promised land. Later, early Christians were baptized in the river, making their own crossing into the Faith. Jesus Christ was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist here! After crossing the river, our pilgrims will proceed to Mt. Nebo to experience the same view of the promised land that was revealed to Moses. He spent his later life on Mt. Nebo and never descended to walk through the promised land.
DAY 6 ~
The city of Petra is as mysterious as it is magnificent. Rediscovered by an explorer in the 1800s, Petra is carved and built into the cliffs and may have been built as early as the first century BC. It’s estimated to have been home to as many as 30,000 people until earthquakes and feuding civilizations left the city abandoned. Some believe it to be the city of Sela that is referred to in the Old Testament. A short ride away is thought to be the site where Moses struck the rock to “spring forth water” for the Israelites.
DAY 7 ~
Over halfway through the trip, our pilgrims cross back into Israel to explore the historical, holy sites first in the ancient Jericho, and then in Jerusalem. One of the oldest cities in the world, Jericho is known for many things, most notably for the bible story of the fall of the walls of Jericho. Once in the holy city of Jerusalem, our pilgrims’ first stop will be to Bethany, the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, as well as Lazarus’ Tomb.
Day 8 ~
Another jampacked day of sight-seeing! Our pilgrims will spend the next three days exploring the holy sites in Jerusalem before coming home. Day two in Jerusalem, they will travel to the Mount of Olives where many of Jesus’ teachings took place. Walking the Palm Sunday Road, they will then visit the Chapel of Dominus Flevit where Jesus visualized the destruction of Jerusalem and wept. With this legacy, the Church is shaped like a tear drop! They will continue to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Basilica of the Agony, and will have a chance to see the Grotto of Judas’ betrayal.