The spiritual directors have been confirmed for the annual Christian Solidarity Pilgrimages to the Holy Land organised by The Irish Catholic. This year 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 October 1 led by Wexford-based priest Fr John Carroll. On October 7, a second group will depart from Dublin led by Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown.
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 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 [pictured]. 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.
Pricing notes for the pilgrimage
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 listing 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
-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.