Day 1: TEL AVIV- TIBERIAS
Arrive to Ben Gurion Airport – overnight Tiberias for your overnight stay.
Day 2: TIBERIAS / RIVER JORDAN / CAPERNAUM/TABGHA/TIBERIAS
Enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus met Simon, Peter, James and John, his first disciples, and performed many miracles here. He stilled the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee that was about to flood their boat and walked on the stormy sea to His Apostles.
Continue to Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, and walk in the same village Jesus did. It is here in Capernaum that our Lord and Saviour chose and called forth His Apostles, and where He preached and performed miracles such as the healing of the paralytic, the mother-in-law of Apostle Peter, the servant of the centurion and many others. See the remains of the House of Saint Peter, one of the very few exact sites we know Jesus visited. A Franciscan Church has been built over the ruins of the house. See the ruins of the Synagogue where Our Lord preached. Continue to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Apostles, the very place Jesus called His first disciples. Enjoy the peaceful setting of this beautiful church with its red domes. In the 4th Century A.D., many monasteries and churches were built in the places where our Lord lived, taught and performed miracles. Drive on to the Mountain of Beatitudes, where Jesus Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount and where the Lord’s Prayer was said for the first time. Then, on to Tabgha (Seven Springs) and the Church of the Multiplication of Fishes and Loaves. It is here that the miracle of the loaves and fish took place. Over 5,000 men, women and children were fed from the miraculous multiplication of the five loaves of bread and two fish. Our last stop will be Yardenit on the River Jordan, the site for Spiritual Baptism and Agiasmos. Experience an affirmation of your baptism in the same river that our Lord was baptized by Saint John the Baptist 2,000 years ago. You may rent a white robe to wear into the Jordan River for your Spiritual Baptism,($10) and you may wear your bathing suit below your robe. For those who purchase or rent robes, a room is available to change. Return to the hotel in Tiberias for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: TIBERIAS / MT. TABOR / CANA / NAZARETH / JERUSALEM
Begin with a visit the Church of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor. According to Christian tradition, this is the traditional site of the Transfiguration. The church and monastery are built on the ancient foundations of its summit, 588 meters (approximately 2,000 feet) above sea level. Take a taxi to the top of Mt. Tabor. There, see an utterly commanding view of all of lower Galilee and the valley of the Armageddon. It was here that Jesus revealed the wonderful power of presence in communion with the Lawgiver and prophets of the past (Moses and Elijah). This also became immediate evidence of Communion with His Father. Enter the Church of Transfiguration and pray. At the foot of Mt. Tabor is the little village of Naim, where Jesus raised the only son of the poor widow from the dead. Our next stop is Cana and the Greek Orthodox Church where our Lord performed his first public miracle. Jesus turned water into wine at the request of His Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary to spare the bridegroom the embarrassment of running out of wine at his wedding party. You may purchase wine from the shop opposite the church. For those who wish to renew their wedding vows, a special service for married couples will follow. Continue to nearby Nazareth, one of the holiest towns in Christendom. This city was the home of Mary, Joseph and Jesus until the beginning of His ministry. Nazareth is also where Jesus spent some years of His youth after returning to Israel from Egypt and until His public ministry began. Visit the Virgin Mary’s Well where the Angel Gabriel announced the “good news” to Mary that she would give birth to Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation is built over this site. We then drive through the biblical heartland down to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: JERUSALEM / BETHLEHEM / JERUSALEM
After breakfast, drive to Bethlehem, the birthplace of our Lord and Saviour and the cradle of biblical history. Bethlehem is located five and half miles from Jerusalem. No town in the world has such a glorious history as Bethlehem. Visit the Shepherd’s field and the Church of the Nativity. A Greek Orthodox Church has been built over the birthplace of Our Lord by the Emperor Justinian and is over 1,500 years old. It is the second oldest Orthodox Church in existence. It was not destroyed by the Persians, as they saw a mosaic of the Magi dressed in Persian wear over the front door. Venerate and touch the actual ground where Jesus was born. A few feet away are the Holy Manger. See the Cave of St. Jerome. On the way back to Jerusalem, visit the Monastery and Church of the Prophet Elias and the Church and Tomb of St. Symeon, the Just. In addition, visit the Monastery of the Holy Cross. After, drive to the village of Ein Karem, the birthplace of St. John the Baptist. Return to Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 5: JERUSALEM
Enjoy breakfast and drive to the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem. We leave the coach to walk through old Jerusalem to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. Continue with a visit to the Church of Saint Anna (birthplace of the Theotokos). Within its grounds are the Pools of Bethesda. These are the pools located near the sheep gate where the Lord cured the paralytic. Archaeologists have uncovered all of the pools and the five porticoes, as was reported by St. John in the Gospel.
Then, we will walk along the Way of the Cross Via Dolorosa – which starts from the Fortress of Antonia and ends at the Temple Mount. En route, visit the Ecco Homo, Prison of Christ (Praitorion). Venerate at the same cell the Lord was held prisoner before His crucifixion. It is located deep in a dungeon. There is a slab of stone with two holes through which His legs were passed and ankles shackled together. The cells of Barabas and the two thieves, who were crucified with Him, are here. In the church is a large wooden cross (275 years old) which is taken out of the church on Good Friday and is walked down the streets, as Christ himself did, ending at the Holy Sepulchre? We will continue with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of our Saviour’s death and resurrection. This is the most important church for Christians. We climb the stairs to reach Golgotha, the place of the crucifixion. Over the site, a main altar has been built and is under the care of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. You may reach through a case and touch the place that held the Holy Cross. To the right of the altar is a split in the rock floor where the Lord finally took His last breath. Take a moment to reflect in this Holy Place and to feel the spirit engulf you and appreciate all that Our Lord has given you and your loved ones. At the bottom of the stairs, as you leave the Chapel of the Golgotha, is the site where the body of Christ was placed after he was taken down from the cross (Apokathelosis). It is covered by a slab of stone where you can venerate. A tradition is to bless pictures of family and loved ones, as well as any religious items purchased, on the marble by making the sign of the cross. Then, we are led to the site of the Tomb, the place of the Lord’s resurrection. A small chapel has been built over the sacred place under the watch of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. In the first small room is the great stone that sealed the tomb. It was here that the Angel of the Lord sat proclaiming the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The next small room contained the slab of stone on which the dead body of the Lord was placed, entombed and resurrected. It is a truly incredible experience to be in this church! It is from this tiny room that the Holy Light of the Resurrection emanates. After lunch onwards to visit the Israeli museum to see the famous treasures which include the Qumran Scrolls and the most ancient Biblical texts. Dinner and overnight at the hotel
Day 6: JERUSALEM
After breakfast, drive to the Mount of Olives to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Holy City. Jerusalem, a 4,000 year old city, is the centre of the three main monotheistic faiths and the place where our Lord sacrificed Himself for our salvation. Possible visit to St Stephen’s Church.
Drive to the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. It is from this site that the holy body of the Virgin Mary was taken into Heaven by her Son and God. Continue to Gethsemane. Visit the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Agony. Only the Apostles knew Jesus often went to the Garden of Agony to pray in solitude. Here, Judas led the authorities to Him. In the Garden, our Lord prayed to God, the Father, before He was betrayed, arrested and crucified. In the church, there is a stone slab for pilgrims to venerate. It is here our Lord prayed with great passion before He was to endure the selfless sacrifice to come. Drive to the Church of Our Father and the Chapel of Ascension, the site our Lord ascended from the earth to Heaven. According to our religion, it is here where the second coming will take place, and both the living and dead will be raised before Him for judgment. Drive to the Zion Gate to walk to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) on Mount Moriah, where it is said the Patriarch Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son. Here also stands the Dome of the Rock, with its marble and multi-coloured mosaics, quotations from the Koran and the Golden Cupola. Tradition has it that this rock marks the centre of the earth for the Jewish religion. In Moslem religion, tradition says this is the point where Mohammed ascended to heaven on his horse and is the third holiest place on earth for Islam. Continue on to Mt. Zion to visit the Room of the Last Supper, King David’s Tomb and the Church of the Dormition. Return to the hotel for dinner.
Day 7: JERUSALEM / JERICHO / JERUSALEM (OPTIONAL)
This morning, drive northeast of Jerusalem to Jericho to climb the Mount of Sarantarion (The Mount of Temptation). Take a cable car up to the Mount (Sarantarion Oros). It was on this mountain where the Lord was tempted by the devil and fasted for forty days and forty nights. There is an altar built over the same slab of stone where Jesus prayed and fasted. The Monastery was built over this site, and there is only one elderly monk who takes care of it. He is truly inspirational. Lunch break and a chance to shop some Dead Sea products.
En route to the Dead Sea, optional stop in Qumran, the area where a Jewish sect thought to be the Essenes wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls which were discovered in a cave in 1947 after 2,000 years. Since the 1950’s nearly 900 scrolls have been discovered most written on parchment or papyrus. Cisterns, Jewish ritual baths, cemeteries and a building thought to be a scriptorium have also been found. Here you will stop for a float in the Dead Sea for anyone who wishes to do so. Continue to the Dead Sea and a stop to shop for Dead Sea products.
Continue to the Church of St. Elisseos and Zacchaeus’ Tree. This is the tree upon which Zacchaeus climbed in order to see the Lord walk by. From here, drive to the Judean Desert to the Monastery of St. Gerasimos. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the world, built by Abbot Gerasimos in 455 A.D. It was originally a cave. According to tradition, it was here that the Virgin Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus rested for one night during their long journey to Egypt.
Continue to Martha and Lazarus Tomb in Bethany where Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus after 4 days in the tomb. The Lord wanted to establish His power over death and waited until Lazarus was confirmed dead before raising him from the dead.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 8: JERUSAELM / TEL AVIV
Transfer to the airport in Tel Aviv for your flight back home.