To walk in Christ’s footsteps is an unforgettable experience

To walk in Christ’s footsteps is an unforgettable experience An aerial view of the Mount of Beatitudes.
Pilgrimage Supplement 2019 – Pathways With Purpose
The Holy Land opens up the Scriptures in a way that touches everyone who goes there, writes Michael Kelly

 

It’s not for nothing that the Holy Land has often been referred to as the ‘fifth Gospel’. I have been blessed to participate in more than a dozen pilgrimages, and it is a rich privilege to be with groups experiencing the trip for the first time. The Irish Catholic Christian Solidarity Pilgrimages for this autumn are already fully-booked, but places will soon be released for the Spring of 2020. You can pre-register your interest now.

There is a real sense in which the very stones of the place speak of the Gospel. On every trip I experience something new. It is always marvellous to be in Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem with so many Irish pilgrims who were making the trip to the Holy Land for the first time.

One woman told me on a recent trip how she now understood the Gospels in a radically new way because she had the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Christ and see the things that he saw.

It’s true that while some of the buildings may have changed, the landscape is remarkably similar to that which Jesus lived.

Another man told me that he would never think of the readings at Mass in the same way again since he could now identify with the places mentioned in the Gospel.

In Islam, Muslims who can afford to and are capable of performing the Hajj pilgrimage are obliged to. There is no such obligation within Christianity, but a visit to the Holy Land is a unique opportunity to engage with the Gospel stories in a life-giving way that can enrich and enhance faith. It is also an occasion to express solidarity with the local Christian community in the Holy Land. The local Christians are those ‘living stones’ that are a real link to Gospel stories for their forefathers were the first to hear the message of Christ.

In recent years, the Christian Solidarity Pilgrimage has become an integral part of The Irish Catholic year with hundreds of pilgrims having already made the journey from every corner of Ireland.

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 the itinerary that pilgrims can look forward to on The Irish Catholic trip…

Day 1: Arrive in the Holy Land

Morning check-in at Dublin airport for Turkish Airlines flight to Tel Aviv via Istanbul. On Arrival in Tel Aviv, meet our tour guides for a luxury coach transfer to Nazareth. Check-in to the four-star Legacy Hotel in Nazareth for four nights, dinner, bed and breakfast.

Day 2: Nazareth and Cana

Morning Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Visit to the Cave home of the Holy Family, St Joseph’s workshop, and Mary’s Well. A short drive to Cana sees pilgrims visit the Church of the Wedding Feast – the site of Jesus’ first miracle. At the church, couples have an opportunity to renew their marriage vows.

There is then free time before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Day 3: Sea of Galilee 

Morning Mass on the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Visit Capernaum where we see the old synagogue and the excavations of St Peter’s house. Visit the site of the multiplication of the loaves and fish at Tabgha, and the Church of the Primacy of St Peter on the lake-shore. Boat trip across the Sea of Galilee to Tiberias before returning to the hotel for free time before dinner.

Day 4: Mount Tabor and the River Jordan

Morning drive to Mount Tabor, and ascend by taxi for Mass at the Church of the Transfiguration. Enjoy the view of the Valley of Armageddon before making the short trip to the site of the baptism of the Lord at the Sea of Galilee. Here pilgrims can renew their baptismal vows before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Day 5: Jericho and Bethany

Drive 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 – the lowest place on Earth – and enjoy a ‘dip’ near Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Drive by the Inn of the Good Samaritan, to Bethany for our Mass and visit the tomb of Lazarus. Continue on to Bethlehem and check-in to the four-star Manger Square Hotel, located just metres away from the site of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem for four nights dinner, bed and breakfast.

Day 6: Bethlehem

Morning visit to the Church of the Nativity for Mass. See the birthplace of Jesus, and the Holy Manger. See also the churches of St Jerome, St Helen and the Holy Innocents. Afternoon visit to the Milk Grotto and the Shepherds Fields. Drive to Ein Karem, and visit the Churches of the Visitation and St John the Baptist. Return to the hotel for dinner.

Day 7: Mount of Olives

Drive to Jerusalem. On the Mount of Olives view the Old City. Visit the Ascension Dome, Pater Noster Church, Dominus Flevit, the Church of the Assumption and Grotto, and the Garden of Gethsemane. Afternoon Mass in the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu. See the dungeon where Jesus was held on Holy Thursday night. Walk around Mount Zion and visit the Church of the Dormition, Tomb of King David, and the Room of the Last Supper before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Day 8: Jerusalem

Drive to the Old City of Jerusalem for Mass on Calvary, and see the Holy Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Visit the Church of St Anne and the Pool of Bethesda. Follow in the footsteps of Jesus and walk the Via Dolorosa, stop for prayer and reflection at the stations of the cross as you travel through the narrow streets of the Old City to the site of Calvary and the tomb of Jesus. Visit the Western Wall and enjoy a free afternoon in in Jerusalem before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Day 9: Depart Tel Aviv

After breakfast, drive to Tel Aviv airport for the return flight to Dublin via Istanbul.

The package on offer is all inclusive of the following

-Travel and accommodation;

-Flight from Dublin via Istanbul to Tel Aviv;

-Transfer on arrival from Tel Aviv airport to the hotel in Nazareth with guide assistance;

-Four 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 via Istanbul to Dublin;

-Luxury air-conditioned coach throughout the itinerary;

-Guiding audio system (earphones for listening to the guide).

Tours and religious programme

-Full religious programme with a spiritual director including daily Mass;

-Services of Marian Pilgrimages representative and professional;

-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;

-Capernaum;

-Mount of Beatitudes;

-Muhrakha;

-Qumran.

The 2020 dates for theHoly Land Pilgrimage (organised by Marian Pilgrimages with The Irish Catholic) will be released soon. To pre-registers your interest, please e-mail events@irishcatholic.ie

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