Journey to the Holy Land with Bishop Steve Lowe – Harvest Journeys Catholic Pilgrimages

Journey to the Holy Land with Bishop Steve Lowe

Watch the Gospels come alive as we set out on this true pilgrimage of faith and retrace the progressive stages of the life of Jesus from his Nativity in Bethlehem to his Passion on Calvary. Be deeply moved as we behold with our eyes what our minds for so long attempted to imagine.

Highlights

Petra (2) • Madaba • Mt Nebo • Dead Sea (2) • Bethany Beyond the Jordan • Sea of Galilee (5) • Nazareth • Mt Tabor • Cana • Beit She’an • Jericho • Jerusalem (7) • Bethlehem • Masada • Qumran • Ein Karem

  • 20 Days
  • Israel and Jordan
  • Daily Mass
  • With Bishop Steve Lowe
Unesco World Heritage

Itinerary

Meal Code: (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner

DAY 1SUNDAY 5 MARCH 2023 - DEPART NEW ZEALAND

DAY 2MONDAY 6 MARCH - ARRIVE JORDAN

This morning we will fly into Amman, be greeted by our Jordanian guide and immediately travel south to the magnificent ancient trading city of Petra, known as the ‘rose-red city’ and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Here we are positioned in the biblical land of Edom (Judges 11:17–18). 

Petra overnight (D)

Day 3TUESDAY 7 MARCH - PETRA EXPLORATION

Enjoy an unforgettable guided walking tour of the ruins of ancient Petra – the city that the Nabateans carved out of solid rock dating back to 300 BC! Our visit will follow a passage through the Siq, a chasm created in a prehistoric earthquake. It is one of the special moments to walk through this canyon which dramatically opens up to reveal the Treasury Building (Al Khasne) – a never to be forgotten experience. We will see also the Roman Theatre and Corinthian tomb along with the remains of churches, homes and many other buildings from this fascinating period. 

Petra overnight (BD)

Day 4WEDNESDAY 8 MARCH - VIA MADABA & MT NEBO TO THE DEAD SEA

After breakfast we travel north on the biblical Kings Highway towards the Dead Sea. Continue north for a visit to St George’s Church in Madaba with its precious 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land comprised of more than two million pieces. After this some free time will be afforded to explore the fascinating township of Madaba, the ‘City of Mosaics’, taking the opportunity for lunch and to browse the local crafts. 

We then ascend biblical Mount Nebo for a special Mass. At this site Moses looked over into the Promised Land and blessed Joshua who was to lead the Israelites under God’s protection (Joshua 1:6–9). It has been possible for archaeologists to identify this sanctuary, thanks to the records left by two pilgrim-visitors of the fourth and fifth centuries of their travels in this region. One of these was Egeria, the pilgrim nun. 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2009, said this while here on Mt Nebo: “Here, on the heights of Mount Nebo, the memory of Moses invites us to ‘lift up our eyes’ to embrace with gratitude not only God’s mighty works in the past, but also to look with faith and hope to the future which he holds out to us and to our world.” We too can seize this opportunity to thank God for our journey thus far and anticipate the blessings that are to come. 

This afternoon we arrive at the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea to check-in to our beautiful hotel located down on the shore 

Dead Sea overnight (BD)

Day 5THURSDAY 9 MARCH - DEAD SEA & BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN

Our day begins with a visit and Mass at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, one of the most recent archaeological and religious discoveries. The five springs here form a tributary of the Jordan River and this area is believed to be the Baptismal site of Jesus by John the Baptist. So authentic is this site that Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis all visited it on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land. 

We then return to our hotel for the remainder of the day at leisure. We can unwind and take the optional opportunity to float in the salty waters of the Dead Sea said to have healing qualities. The experience is quite uplifting! 

Dead Sea overnight (BD)

Day 6FRIDAY 10 MARCH– DEAD SEA TO THE SEA OF GALILEE

Leaving behind the Dead Sea this morning we cross the border into the Promised Land of Israel and meet the guide who will be with us for the remainder of our journey. 

This afternoon we visit Tabgha on the shores of Lake Galilee … “Go to Galilee and you will find him there” (Matthew 28:7). Here we enter the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, site of Jesus’ miraculous feeding of a multitude (Matthew 14:13–21). Celebrate a special outdoor Mass at the Church of the Primacy of Peter where Jesus challenged Peter and each one of us ‘Do you really love me, feed my sheep’. After Mass we can take some time to reflect and pray by the shore of the lake. 

Journey on to Tiberias where we check-in to our hotel located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. 

Sea of Galilee overnight (BD)

Day 7SATURDAY 11 MARCH – NAZARETH ENCOUNTER

Today we travel west to Nazareth, the town of Jesus’ childhood. First we visit the Basilica of the Annunciation where a traditional cave becomes the focal point of Mary’s response “Let it be done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). Celebrate a touching Eucharist here. 

We also see the Church of St Joseph, and the Synagogue Church, a Melkite (Greek Catholic) church believed to be on the site of the synagogue in which Jesus preached. 

We continue on to the nearby Nazareth Village, a recreation of the village life of Nazareth as in the days of Jesus. Here we enjoy a traditional meal and see examples of first-century life, including a synagogue, a working olive press, a carpenter’s workshop, and donkeys and goats roaming hillside terraces. 

Then we visit the International Mary of Nazareth Centre. Ecumenical in its approach, it uses multimedia techniques to show the place of the Mother of Jesus in Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions. 

Return to our hotel in time for dinner. 

Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD)

Day 8SUNDAY 12 MARCH – SEA OF GALILEE

Our day begins with Mass in the new ‘Duc in Altum’ Church at Magdala – home of Mary Magdalene, who became the first recorded witness of the Resurrection (John 20:18). Recent archaeological discoveries have made Magdala an important pilgrimage destination. 

From here we continue to Korazin to relive the parables of the house built on the rock and the persevering widow. 

Journey on to Capernaum, the centre of Jesus’ teaching and healing and home to Peter the apostle (Matthew 4:12–20). Here we enjoy the opportunity to stroll along the shore of Lake Galilee. Schedule permitting we can visit the Greek Orthodox Church here and admire its brightly coloured frescoes and icons. 

Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. 

Sea of Galilee overnight (BD) 

Day 9MONDAY 13 MARCH - SEA OF GALILEE

Our second memorable Galilee day begins with a visit to the Mount of Beatitudes, the setting for Jesus’ most famous discourse, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–12). 

We then travel to the Nof Ginosar Kibbutz within which is preserved the remains of a first century fishing boat as in the days of Christ. Following this, we set off from the shore in a traditional sailing vessel to experience one of our most memorable pilgrimage highlights – a special Mass floating on Lake Galilee with engines switched off. Here we will recall the miracles of Jesus calming the storm and appearing to the apostles walking on this very water. After the Mass, we will continue back to the shore for our special ‘St Peter’s fish’ lunch. 

Remainder of the day at leisure. 

Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD) 

Day 10TUESDAY 14 MARCH - MT. TABOR & CANA

Travel out this morning to the foot of Mount Tabor before ascending by taxis up the narrow winding road leading to the majestic summit. Here Our Lord’s divinity shone forth in the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–2). After spending time in this breathtaking setting we will better understand Peter’s words ‘Lord it is good for us to be here’. 

After our descent we visit Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle transforming the water into wine at the wedding feast (John 2:1–11). Here we will celebrate Mass. Married couples will have an opportunity to renew their wedding vows, and single and widowed pilgrims will receive a special blessing. New Zealand’s Good Friday Collection for the holy places helps to maintain this church. 

Remainder of the day at leisure. 

Sea of Galilee overnight (BD) 

Day 11WEDNESDAY 15 MARCH - VIA BEIT SHE’AN & JERICHO TO JERUSALEM

This morning we travel south along the lush Jordan valley to Beit She’an, the place where King Saul’s body was displayed on its walls after his defeat by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10). See the second century Roman Theatre which is the best preserved in Israel, and the Tell el- Husn, one of the most important archaeological sites in the country dating back to 1318 BC. 

We continue south to Jericho, the “City of Palms” which is said to be the world’s oldest continually inhabited city. An intriguing look at the excavations will assist our understanding of the successive stages of the town walls and its 10,000 year history. 

On arrival we will proceed to the Sanctuary of the Good Shepherd, where we will celebrate Mass. We will also see an ancient sycamore tree, a reminder of the Gospel account of the tax collector Zacchaeus climbing a sycamore to see Jesus (Luke 19: 1–10). 

After lunch in Jericho we journey up to Jerusalem – the City of our God. On the way we remember the parable of the Good Samaritan as we journey through desert hills and dry rocky landscapes. 

Jerusalem overnight (BLD) 

Day 12THURSDAY 16 MARCH – JERUSALEM

Today we travel to the Western (Wailing) Wall, the holiest place for Jews, and the Temple Mount, where we view the Dome of the Rock and El Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place for Muslims. 

We walk to the Church of St Anne, built over the birthplace of the Virgin Mary and where we will celebrate a special Mass together and enjoy the incredible acoustics of this sacred place. See nearby the Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralysed man (John 5:2–9). 

Our next stop is the Israel Museum where we have an orientation viewing of the Second Temple scale model of Jerusalem as it was in the time of Jesus. Then proceed to the Shrine of the Book to view the Dead Sea Scrolls with our own eyes. Time permitting we will also visit the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Cross. 

Before dinner we will meet representatives of the Parents Circle – this is a joint Israeli- Palestinian organisation made up of more than 600 bereaved families. Their common bond is that they have lost a close family member to the conflict. Instead of choosing revenge, they have chosen a path of reconciliation. 

Jerusalem overnight (BD) 

Day 13FRIDAY 17 MARCH – BETHLEHEM

Today we travel out to Bethlehem, the City of David. Our first stop will be Shepherds’ Field to commemorate the appearance of the angels to the shepherds on that first Christmas night, and where we will celebrate Mass. 

Then in Bethlehem we will visit the Church of the Nativity built over the cave where Jesus was born. Bending low, we enter the church through the Door of Humility and descend into the Grotto of the Nativity. A silver star in the floor marks the very spot where Christ was born. The star’s inscription reads in Latin: Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus Natus Est (Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ was born). 

A highlight will be a visit to Bethlehem University. Here, after a short orientation DVD, we will engage with some students in discussion as well as visit the beautiful chapel. We also share a special lunch with a few students. 

We will have the chance to see for ourselves the controversial Security Wall. 

Return to Jerusalem in time for dinner. 

Jerusalem overnight (BLD) 

Day 14SATURDAY 18 MARCH - JERUSALEM

We will proceed to the Mount of Olives, where we enjoy a panoramic view over the city and a spectacular photographic opportunity. 

Walk down the Palm Sunday Road, arriving at the Church of Dominus Flevit for Mass. This church was built on the site where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41–44). 

We then visit the Garden of Gethsemane, where we will enter the Church of All Nations containing the bare rock upon which Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. The outside garden contains olive trees, the roots of which go back to the time of Jesus. At the base of the Mount of Olives we will also visit a Crusader Church which contains the Tomb of the Virgin Mary and is therefore the place of her assumption into heaven. 

We continue on to the Cenacle, room of the Last Supper and Pentecost, and the Church of Dormition where Our Lady ‘fell asleep’ in death. 

Next we visit the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, where Our Lord was interrogated and imprisoned at the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, while Peter denied Jesus three times. From here we see the path Jesus was taken along as a prisoner. 

Jerusalem overnight (BD) 

Day 15SUNDAY 19 MARCH- JERUSALEM

We begin our day with the Stations of the Cross as we pray and follow in Our Lord’s footsteps along the traditional Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where we will celebrate an unforgettable Eucharist. 

The afternoon will be free to explore the Old City with its markets and bazaars. 

Jerusalem overnight (BD) 

Day 16MONDAY 20 MARCH– MASADA / QUMRAN / EIN KAREM

This morning we journey south along the Dead Sea to the historic site of Masada where, on arrival, we will embark on the cable car offering spectacular scenery to the summit. Here we will enjoy a guided tour of Herod’s fortress and the Zealots’ last stand. 

Returning alongside the Dead Sea, we will visit Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd boy. 

Finally we end our day with a visit to Ein Karem, the birthplace of St John the Baptist and site of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth “Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” (Luke 1:43). Pilgrims may choose to pray a mystery of the Rosary here as we walk up to this church commemorating ‘The Magnificat’. 

Jerusalem overnight (BD) 

Day 17TUESDAY 21 MARCH - JERUSALEM & SURROUNDS

This morning we travel out to the site of Emmaus (El Quibebeh), to remember where the disciples recognised the risen Jesus at the breaking of bread and exclaimed “Did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us on the road?” (Luke 24:13–35). We celebrate our final group Mass here. Remainder of the day at leisure to pray, rest or perhaps wander the Old City before we enjoy a special farewell dinner. Jerusalem overnight (BD) 

Day 18WEDNESDAY 22 MARCH - DEPART THE HOLY LAND

This morning we depart Tel Aviv airport for our homebound flight connections. (B) 

Day 19THURSDAY 23 MARCH - IN TRANSIT

Day 20FRIDAY 24 MARCH 2023 - ARRIVE NEW ZEALAND (DEPENDING ON AIRLINE SCHEDULES)

All details of sightseeing listed, and order of daily arrangements must remain subject to change due to any unforeseen circumstances, which may arise, or at the discretion of the pilgrimage leadership.

Dates & Prices

PILGRIMAGE DETAILS
STARTS Sunday 05 March 2023
FINISHES Friday 24 March 2023
TOUR COST NZD $11,690 (twin share) *
SINGLE ROOM NZD $3,890 Supplement
PREPAID TIPS $320 per person

* Prices are based on a minimum group size of 30 paying pilgrims, calculated as at July 2022. Prices remain subject to possible changes in the unlikely event of significant exchange rate variations, airfare increases or minimum group size contingencies.

Inclusions

  • AIRFARES: Return Economy Class airfare from Auckland • (N.B. Airlines taxes are included on standard itinerary and subject to fluctuations)
  • ACCOMODATION & MEALS: Based on superior standard hotel accommodation throughout with breakfast and dinner daily
  • TOURING & TRANSPORTATION: Deluxe Air Conditioned Coach with driver • Professional Pilgrimage Escort • Sightseeing and Entrance Fees throughout itinerary • Porterage at hotels • Harvest Backpack, Pilgrims Journal and Tour Wallet
  • OTHER: Porterage at hotels • Harvest Backpack, Pilgrim Journal and Tour Wallet.

Not included

  • Other meals not listed
  • Passport and Visa Costs (if applicable)
  • Items of a personal nature including phone calls, laundry, beverages, etc.
  • Travel insurance - ask Harvest about its preferred Gold Protect Travel Insurance
  • Prepaid Tips
  • “The tour was well organised, the accommodations was excellent. The tour guides were knowledgeable and were an enormous source of information. Border transfers were easily arranged. It was great to travel in an unknown area without any worries.”

    Clara Kempers
    Footsteps of Jesus

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