The spiritual directors have been confirmed for the annual Christian Solidarity Pilgrimages to the Holy Land organised by The Irish Catholic in autumn 2020. Next September and October will see two groups of pilgrims depart on the unforgettable trip to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
The first group will depart Dublin on September 29 led by well-known theologian and speaker Fr Eamonn Conway. On October 4, a second group will depart from Dublin led by Bishop of Ferns Denis Brennan.
In recent years, the trips have become an integral part of The Irish Catholic year with hundreds of pilgrims making the journey from every corner of Ireland.
Also accompanied by Michael Kelly, Managing Editor of The Irish Catholic, the trips offer a unique opportunity to visit the sites associated with the earthly life of Christ.
The pilgrimage also helps the Bible come alive for people as they visit Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
Highlights for many pilgrims include a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee and walking the way of the cross through Jerusalem to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.
Here are some highlights of this year’s itinerary:
Day One: Ireland to the Holy Land
Depart Dublin Airport in the evening for an overnight flight direct to Tel Aviv on El Al.
Day Two: Nazareth
Upon arrival in Ben-Gurion Airport, pilgrims will be met by a Marian Pilgrimages representative and guide before boarding our tour coach to Nazareth. En route we will see stunning views of the sun rising over the Galilee region – site of much of the ministry of Jesus. After breakfast, check-in to the four-star Legacy Hotel for five nights with dinner and breakfast.
After time to rest and freshen up, we will walk the short distance to the nearby Basilica of the Annunciation to celebrate Mass. On the lower level of the basilica we see the remains of Mary’s house and where the Archangel Gabriel visited her.
Adjacent to the basilica is St Joseph’s Church, where we will visit the site of Joseph’s workshop and the house of the Holy Family. A short walk from the basilica is Mary’s Well here you have the opportunity to draw water from the same well as the Virgin Mary followed by free time in Nazareth before dinner at the hotel.
Day Three: Mount Tabor and Cana in Galilee
After breakfast, we have a short drive to Mount Tabor to ascend by taxi for Mass at the Church of the Transfiguration where Jesus is transfigured and speaks to Moses and Elijah. There is time to enjoy the view of the Valley of Armageddon and the Jezreel Valley – bread basket of the Holy Land.
After time for lunch we take the short coach journey to Cana in Galilee. Here we visit the Wedding Church, the site of the first miracle of Jesus. Couples on the pilgrimage can take part in the special ceremony to renew their wedding vows and there is also prayers and blessings for spouses at home and deceased husbands and wives. In the lower level of the church, we will see artifacts from the site before having an opportunity to taste and purchase some of the famous wine from this sacred site before returning to Nazareth for dinner in the hotel.
Optional Eucharistic Adoration at the Basilica of the Annunciation at 8.30pm.
Day Four: The Sea of Galilee
This morning we make our way to the Mount of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, Capernaum and Tabgha. Visit the site of the multiplication of the Loaves and Fish at Tabgha, and the Church of the Primacy of St Peter.
After lunch on the short of the Sea of Galilee, continue to Capernaum and see the old synagogue and the excavations of St Peter’s house before taking a boat trip on the lake, with relevant Bible readings. Before returning to the hotel we visit Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene, a prosperous fishing village at the time of Jesus.
Optional rosary at the Irish icon at the Basilica of the Annunciation at 8.30pm.
Day Five: Acre – the Crusader capital
We take the short coach ride to the coastal city of Akko, famed throughout history as the Crusader capital of the Holy Land. After Mass, we return to Nazareth for free time in the town of the Holy Family before dinner at the hotel.
Optional candlelit procession at the Basilica of the Annunciation at 8.30pm.
Day Six: Jericho and Bethany
We leave Nazareth and drive south along the Jordan Valley into Jericho. Here we can see the Mount of Temptation and the Sycamore tree of Zacchaeus. Continue to the Dead Sea and enjoy a ‘dip’ near Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Drive by the Inn of the Good Samaritan, to Bethany to celebrate Mass at 16.00 and visit the Tomb of Lazarus. Continue to Qasr el Yahud, the baptismal site of Jesus on the River Jordan, here we can renew our baptismal vows.
After we drive to Bethlehem and check-in to the four-star Manger Square Hotel, located just a stone’s throw from the Church of the Nativity for four nights, with breakfast and dinner.
Day Seven: Jerusalem
We drive to Jerusalem and enter the Old City to the Church of St Anne and nearby, see the Pool of Bethesda. Close by we begin the Via Dolorosa and follow the stations of the cross through the markets and narrow streets of the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site of Calvary where Jesus was crucified and His tomb. Here we will celebrate Mass at 11.00 and take some time to reflect at this sacred site. Enjoy some free time in Jerusalem for lunch before visiting the Western Wall.
We will then drive to Taybeh – a town where Jesus stayed before going to Jerusalem to endure the Passion. It is the last all-Christian town in the West Bank and here we will hear about efforts to keep the local Christian community vibrant, including local wine-making before returning to the hotel in Bethlehem for dinner.
Day Eight: Mount of Olives
Drive to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem where we take our group photo and enjoy the view of the Old City below. We make our way to the highest point on the Mount of Olives to the Ascension Dome. Continue to visit the Pater Noster Church, Dominus Flevit, the Church of the Assumption and grotto and the Garden of Gethsemane.
In the afternoon we celebrate Mass at 15.00 in the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu or ‘cock’s crow’, where St Peter denied Jesus three times and see the dungeon where Jesus was held the night of Holy Thursday. We walk around Mount Zion and visit the church of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tomb of King David and the Room of the Last Supper.
Return to the hotel for dinner.
Day Nine: Bethlehem
After breakfast we take the short walk to the Church of the Nativity and celebrate Mass. at 10.00. Here you can visit the birthplace of Jesus, and the Holy Manger as well as the chapels of St Joseph, St Jerome, the Holy Innocents and the Church of St Catherine.
Visit the Milk Grotto before lunch and meeting with members of the local Christian community in Bethlehem. Afterwards, we take the short drive to the Shepherds’ Field and Ein Karem to the Church of the Visitation before returning to the hotel for dinner.
Day Ten: Emmaus
After breakfast at the hotel, we have some free time in Bethlehem before boarding the coach for the journey to Emmaus where we will have Mass and lunch before proceeding to the airport for the direct flight back to Dublin.
Pricing notes for the pilgrimage
The package on offer is all inclusive of the following:
Travel and accommodation
- Flight from Dublin to Tel Aviv;
- Transfer on arrival from Tel Aviv airport to the hotel in Nazareth with guide assistance;
- Five nights in the four-star Legacy Hotel in Nazareth
- Four nights in the four-star Manger Square Hotel in Bethlehem;
- Breakfast and evening meal served each day at hotels;
- Transfer to Tel Aviv airport for return flight;
- Flight from Tel Aviv to Dublin;
- Luxury air-conditioned coach throughout the itinerary;
- Guiding audio system (earphones for listing to the guide).
Tours and religious programme
- Full religious programme with a spiritual director including daily Mass;
- Services of Marian Pilgrimages representative.
- English-speaking guides throughout the pilgrimage;
- Full day guided tour of Jerusalem including visits to the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, Church of St Anne, Via Dolorosa, Holy Sepulchre and Shrine of the Book;
- Complete programme of sightseeing and visits to sites of interest in the Holy Land;
- Boat ride on Sea of Galilee;
- Return taxi transfers to Mount Tabor.
Entrance fees included
- Dominus Flevit;
- Mount of Beatitudes;
- Travel insurance €25 for passengers up to 85 years. Please note that an additional insurance premium of €25 is charged for persons aged 86 to 94 years; passengers 95 years and over should secure private travel insurance.
- Price per person sharing twin/double/treble rooms with private facilities. Passengers are entitled to check in one standard piece of luggage subject to airline’s conditions. Single rooms are subject to availability at a supplement.
- Taxes, charges and government levies are included.
- Porterage at hotels are included in the package price.
- All tips and gratuities everywhere are included.