This itinerary may need to be adjusted, due to situations beyond our control. What will not change is that we will visit holy places, give God plenty of time to work on us, and when we return home, we will have faces and stories of Jordanian and Palestinian Christians – the “living stones” of the Holy Land deeply embedded in our heads and hearts.
Day 1: Travel to Amman Jordan “The Gate to the Holy Land”
Our pilgrimage – our prayerful journey to the holy places and to visit the “living stones” begins today as we fly toward the Holy Land. There are meals and movies in flight, as well as some conversation and sleep.
Day 2: Arrive in Jordan, Madaba
We arrive in Queen Alia Airport in Jordan in late afternoon and travel by bus to Madaba (a Jordanian village near Amman). We celebrate our first Mass together in the Holy Land at St. John the Baptist Parish and enjoy dinner and overnight at our hotel in Madaba.
Day 3: Baptismal Site, Dead Sea, Mt. Nebo, Madaba
We begin the day by traveling to the traditional baptismal site of Jesus, just east of the Jordan River. We learn about the significance of the Jordan, experience its waters, and recommit ourselves as disciples of The One in whose name we have been baptized. Next, we visit the beautiful Dead Sea and enjoy a refreshing dip. After lunch we take our first look at “the land flowing with milk and honey” from Mount Nebo, where Moses first glimpsed the Holy Land. After Mass at this site and a visit to the museum, we visit St. George’s Orthodox Church in Madaba to see the oldest mosaic map of Jerusalem in the world. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Madaba.
Day 4: Jericho, Beit Sahour, Bethlehem
Remembering Joshua leading his people to the Promised Land, we begin the day by crossing the Jordan River and driving to Jericho, the first city taken by Joshua. In Jericho, we remember Zacchaeus and Bartimaeus and call to mind the temptations of Jesus as we view the monastery on the side of the mountain. After lunch in Jericho we visit the Franciscan parish of the Good Shepherd, then drive to Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour. Here, where the angels appeared to announce the birth of Jesus, we celebrate Mass. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Bethlehem.
Day 5: Bethlehem
We begin the day with a visit to the Milk Grotto Shrine of the Motherhood of Mary to offer prayers. Our next stop is the Church of the Nativity to visit the birthplace of Jesus and celebrate Mass. Next we visit Bethlehem University for lunch, an opportunity to tour the university and to hear about life behind the Separation Wall as well as to visit it up close. In late afternoon there is time for some shopping at a souvenir store owned by Bethlehem Christians. We dine at ”The Tent”, an authentic Arabic restaurant and overnight at our hotel in Bethlehem.
Day 6: Ein Kerem, Bethany
This morning we begin the day by traveling to Ein Kerem and celebrate Mass at the Church of the Visitation, where Mary visited Elizabeth and proclaimed her famous “Magnificat”. We also visit the Church of John the Baptist on the site where John the Baptist was born and St. John the Baptist in the Desert church. After lunch we visit Bethany the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha to visit the Tomb of Lazarus and the beautiful Latin Church. Next, we travel to meet with the pastor of a local parish and meet with local Christian families.
Day 7: Emmaus, Jerusalem
The day begins with the celebration of Sunday Mass with the parish community followed by a reception to chat and say our goodbyes to our new found friends. Next, on to Emmaus where we visit the beautiful grounds of the church, walk the ruins of the ancient road, and pray our hearts too “burn within us” as we hear His Word and recall the “breaking of the bread”. Dinner and overnight in our hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 8: Mount of Olives
We begin the day at Ascension Hill on the Mount of Olives, where we begin our walk to the Garden of Gethsemane at the traditional site of the Palm Sunday procession—Bethphage. We then visit the Church of Pater Noster (where Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer) and the Church of Dominus Flevit (where Jesus wept over Jerusalem). At Gethsemane, we take our time for private prayer, silent meditation, Confession if desired, and a simple boxed lunch, all in a beautiful private area of the Garden overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. Mass will be celebrated at the Church of Gethsemane (Church of Agony or Church of All Nations). After visiting the Grotto of Betrayal and Mary’s Tomb we return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Jerusalem
We begin our day very early in the morning walking the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) through the narrow alleys and bazaars of the Old City ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where we celebrate the Mass of the Resurrection and have more time for prayer and meditation. After Mass there will be time for a more extensive tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and a possible meeting with Catholic leaders of Jerusalem. After lunch the afternoon is free for exploring and shopping in the Old City. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 10: Jerusalem
We begin the day with Mass at the site of Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Next we enter the Old City of Jerusalem through the Dung Gate to visit the Western Wall (the holiest shrine and synagogue in the world for the Jews) and the Temple Mount, the site of the golden Dome of the Rock and El-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third most sacred site. After lunch we visit the Church of St. Anne (the birthplace of Mary), the Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the sick man, the Chapel of Flagellation, and the Convent of the Sisters of Zion (Lithostrotos). We return to our Jerusalem hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 11: Mt. Zion, Nazareth, Mt. of Beatitudes
This morning we travel to the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu (“cock-crow) in the Kidron Valley for Mass. Next we travel to Mt. Zion to visit the reconstructed site of the Cenacle (Upper Room) and the Church of the Dormition (the “falling asleep” of Mary). After lunch we travel to the Galilee region where we enjoy the afternoon in Nazareth. We celebrate Mass at the beautiful Basilica of the Annunciation and visit St. Joseph’s Church, the grotto home of the Holy Family. We continue the short distance by bus to Tiberias, for dinner and overnight on the Mt. of Beatitudes. After dinner, we will gather on the hillside for prayer and reflection.
Day 12: Sea of Galilee
After breakfast we begin the day with a morning Mass on the Mt. of Beatitudes. Then we travel to the Sea of Galilee and board a boat for a ride on the Sea, stopping to rock on the waves, to feel the wind, and remember The One whom “even the wind and the sea obey”. Next we visit Capernaum, which Jesus considered “home” and where he healed so many and taught so much, and where we see an ancient synagogue and the remains of Peter’s house and join in a healing service at the church there. After enjoying a traditional lunch of “St. Peter’s fish”, we visit Tabgha, the site of the multiplication of the fishes and the loaves and visit St Peter’s Primacy, the place along the shore where Jesus three times asked Peter (and asks us), “Do you love me”? There is time for an optional walk along the Sea of Galilee from Tabgha to Capernaum before returning to the Mt. of Beatitudes for dinner and overnight.
Day 13: Banias, Golan Heights, Nain, Mt. Tabor
We begin the day by driving to northern Galilee to Banias (Caesarea Philippi) where Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah then enjoy a drive up through the Golan Heights. After lunch we continue with a visit to Nain, the place Jesus raised the widow’s son. Next we visit Mt. Tabor, the most striking mountain in Galilee and the place chosen by Jesus to be the site of his Transfiguration, for Mass and a time of reflection Dinner and overnight back at the Mt. of Beatitudes.
Day 14: Mt of Beatitudes, Cana, Madaba
We say good-bye to Galilee after spending the early morning enjoying the beauty of God’s creation from the mountainside. We board our bus to visit the Church at Cana, the site of Jesus’ first miracle. After celebrating Sunday Mass with the renewal of wedding vows and giving thanks for all of the blessings of our pilgrimage, there is an opportunity to shop for wedding wine and crafts. After lunch we enjoy one last scenic view of the Holy Land from our bus, cross the Allenby Bridge to Jordan and drive back to Madaba to rest in our hotel and enjoy our final dinner together.