God is Near
Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Anyone who’s been to the Holy Land knows the feeling that God has never been closer. It sweeps over you as you walk the stone streets of Jerusalem, place your hand on the spot where Jesus was crucified, and set sail on the Sea of Galilee. Wherever you’re at in your faith journey, it’s a powerful, life-altering story brought to life in full color.
Discover it For Yourself
Everywhere you set foot, every explanation you hear adds to the same, beautiful story. It becomes more real, more ordinary, more expansive than ever before. Whether you’re walking the Via Dolorosa, visiting the birthplace of Jesus, or contemplating Mary in her hometown, you’ll start to see God’s story anew.
This isn’t another trip to Europe. You’re set down in the Middle East, in a land that’s as beautiful as it is different. You’ll feast on Mediterranean food, taste Israeli wine, and witness unique religious customs. And, you’ll be in the heart of cities both modern and ancient, where different cultures and religions exist together, making it one of the most interesting places in the world.
Expect the unexpected when you visit the Holy Land, no matter where you are on your faith journey. It could be the realness of the places you visit, an encounter with God during Mass, or reflecting upon Mary. Whatever it is, it may surprise you how near you seem to God, as it has for so many other pilgrims before you.
(Itinerary shown does not include flights to/from pilgrimage.)
Welcome to Israel
If you arrive in the middle of the day, it’s the perfect time to grab some falafel, explore the city, or head south to Jaffa, the oldest part of Tel Aviv. Later, it’s time for your first Mass as a group, and a chance to get to know each other over dinner. It’s also a great time to talk about the days ahead and what you hope to get out of them.
A Day in Mary’s Hometown
On the first full day of pilgrimage, the trip focuses on the Blessed Virgin Mary and her hometown of Nazareth. You’ll visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, built on top of the location accepted as the spot where the angel Gabriel announced she would conceive and bear a son — Jesus. You’ll get the opportunity to have Mass there, eat an authentic Israeli lunch, and explore the city. Later, in Cana, married couples will have a special moment where they can renew their wedding vows in the same place Jesus was at a wedding, and performed his first miracle.
A Day of Reflection
Just as Jesus and his disciples once did, you’ll go out onto the Sea of Galilee with your fellow travelers. After Mass on the boat, you’ll visit an ancient boat museum and head on to several closeby churches. So much of Jesus’ ministry was done around the sea, which you can reflect on as you visit Capernaum, Peter’s Primacy, Tabgha, the Mount of Beatitudes, and Magdala. After a group dinner, you’ll spend the night in Tiberias.
Early on in the trip, the Sea of Galilee offers the perfect moment of tranquility so you can take stock of what’s happened so far, and pray for what’s ahead. Mass on the boat where Jesus was with his disciples is a truly divine moment. And the different churches on the coast offer quiet, reflective moments you don’t get elsewhere.
To the Highest Heights and Lowest Lows
The Church of the Transfiguration is a magnificent Fransiscan church built on the top of Mount Tabor and the spot you’ll head to first thing for Mass. After taking in the views you’ll go back down the mountain to the Jordan River, the baptismal site of Jesus, where you can renew your baptismal promises. After that is the Dead Sea, and if you’ve never been, you have to take an other-worldly dip there. Then, head to dinner and spend the evening in Jerusalem.
Celebrate Christ’s Birth
Crossing into Palestine from Jerusalem, you’ll visit the beautiful, inspiring Church of the Nativity, to visit the birthplace of Jesus. Though often somewhat crowded, it can be a special, spiritual moment. After Mass, you’ll visit Shepherd’s Fields, the place believed to be where angels first announced the birth of Christ. Before heading back to Jerusalem, stop by a Christian cooperative whose sales help the very small Christian community within Palestine.
In and Around Jerusalem
A relatively packed day, it starts out on the Mount of Olives, including Pater Noster, Dominus Flevit, the Garden of Gethsemane, and Mass in the Church of All Nations. After that you’ll visit the famous Western Wall, where you can pray, put your prayer intentions into the wall if you wish, and hear about the wall’s great significance. That afternoon on Mount Zion, you’ll get to see St. Peter in Gallicantu, the Upper Room, and Dormition Abbey. After a packed day, and an early wake up call tomorrow, you may end up heading to bed early.
A Sacred Morning
Today’s early morning rise will be well worth it. While it’s still dark, your group will walk the lamp-lit corridors of the Via Dolorosa, as you pray through the Stations of the Cross. The final stations will be done at the end of the route at the Holy Sepulchre. There a sacred moment is waiting for you at Calvary, where you can touch rock where Jesus was crucified. After that is a special Mass at the tomb of Jesus. Later in the day you’ll have the chance to visit Ein Karem, including the Church of St. John the Baptist and the Church of the Visitation. There is also an optional afternoon visit to St. Anne’s Church and the Pools of Bethesda. Finally, enjoy a farewell dinner to celebrate the pilgrimage you’ve just had before traveling home.
For many, little compares to the experience of the Holy Sepulchre. Walking along the Via Dolorosa as you do the Stations of the Cross. Arriving at the glorious church that contains both Calvary and the tomb of Jesus, you are as physically close to the Passion as you’ll ever be. And because it is early morning, there are few crowds to distract you from God’s ultimate act of love.
This is truly an exclusive opportunity to have Mass here and be the first in line to go inside and touch the tomb of Jesus. While other groups will wait hours in line just to quickly pass through, you’ll have access to a sacred, intimate setting.
Once you register, we’ll help you prepare for the journey, logistically and spiritually. In the meantime: