“Join me live on location in the Holy Land of Israel as we traverse the homeland of Our Lord and Saviour and explore the backroads of our faith as never before. I am personally so excited to take you through the living pages of scripture on what promises to be a true pilgrimage of the heart.” – Tim Staples
Dead Sea (1) • Mt Nebo • Jordan River Baptismal site • Jericho • Bethlehem (2) • Nazareth • Mt Arbel • Sea of Galilee (3) • Cana • Mt Tabor • Haifa • Caesarea Maritima • Jerusalem (4) • Taybeh
Post Tour Option: Wonders of Petra (2 nights)
Tim Staples is Director of Apologetics and Evangelization here at Catholic Answers, but he was not always Catholic. Tim was raised a Southern Baptist. Although he fell away from the faith of his childhood, Tim came back to faith in Christ during his late teen years through the witness of Christian televangelists. Soon after, Tim joined the Marine Corps.
During his four-year tour, he became involved in ministry with various Assemblies of God communities. Immediately after his tour of duty, Tim enrolled in Jimmy Swaggart Bible College and became a youth minister in an Assembly of God community. During his final year in the Marines, however, Tim met a Marine who really knew his faith and challenged Tim to study Catholicism from Catholic and historical sources. That encounter sparked a two-year search for the truth. Tim was determined to prove Catholicism wrong, but he ended up studying his way to the last place he thought he would ever end up: the Catholic Church!
He converted to Catholicism in 1988 and spent the following six years in formation for the priesthood, earning a degree in philosophy from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, Pennsylvania. He then studied theology on a graduate level at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, for two years. Realizing that his calling was not to the priesthood, Tim left the seminary in 1994 and has been working in Catholic apologetics and evangelization ever since.
Fr Don is currently the parish priest of St Joseph Pignatelli, Attadale, Perth Western Australia.
He has served across the Archdioceses of Perth, as Director of Catholic Youth Ministry, parish priest of Holy Spirit, City Beach and as Administrator of St Mary’s Cathedral, after returning from Belfast Northern Ireland.
“I am excited to lead this pilgrimage as we come to know the Holy Land where Christ once walked the earth known as the ‘fifth Gospel’. As we make our way through Israel and Palestine, we will visit the most holy sites, including the Holy Sepulchre, the Cenacle, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee, where we will celebrate a beautiful Mass on the Sea crossing over to Capernaum…only to mention a few. Let us make this pilgrimage to get to know Christ as God, teacher, and our companion in life. We will experience the sites and landscapes to help us better enter more fully into the Gospels and engrave in our hearts the history of our faith. Let us open up our hearts and listen to what God wants to share with us through this pilgrimage.”
Theme: From Old to New
On arrival into Amman This morning we fly into Amman and immediately travel west to ascend Biblical Mt Nebo for a spectacular Mass. Here, at the site where the Old Testament opened its door to the land of the New, 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.
His Holiness 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.
We then arrive at the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea to check-in to our beautiful hotel located down on the shore. Here we will unwind and take the optional opportunity to float in the salty waters said to have healing qualities. The experience is quite uplifting!!
Dead Sea overnight (D)
heme: New Beginnings
Our pilgrimage starts this morning with a visit to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, one of the most recent archaeological and religious discoveries. The five springs here form a tributary of the Jordan River, believed to be the Baptismal site of Jesus by John the Baptist. So authentic is this site that His Holiness Benedict XVI chose this as an essential place to visit on his last pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will celebrate Mass, renew our Baptismal promises and see the beautiful Orthodox Church (also the Catholic Church in construction).
Onwards to Jericho, the ‘City of Palms’, said to be the oldest inhabited city in the world dating back to around 9000 BC. Stop by the famous Sycamore tree used to commemorate the powerful story of the tax collector Zacchaeus. Across the valley see the Mt of Temptation where Jesus was tempted by the devil during his 40 day fast.
We continue to Jericho the ‘City of Palms’ which is said to be the oldest inhabited city and most famous oasis. Across the valley we view the Mt of Temptation, the site of Jesus’ fast of 40 days and there are enough stones to illustrate Satan’s words “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves”. Here in Jericho we can give our feet a well-deserved rest and enjoy a traditional Palestinian meal. We will also celebrate Mass here.
Ascend St George’s Monastery lookout to marvel at the cliff-hanging 5th-century complex carved into a sheer rock wall.
Journey on to Bethlehem, the City of David – the perfect way to begin our pilgrimage through the life of Jesus.
Bethlehem overnight (BD)
Theme: The Birth of Jesus
We firstly travel out to Ein Karem and ascend the hill to the Church of the Visitation where Mary visited Elizabeth and proclaimed her Magnificat prayer – ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord’. From here we come to the Church of St John the Baptist, built over a natural grotto identified as the saint’s actual birthplace.
Continue to Shepherd’s Field to celebrate a joyous Christmas Mass in a local cave to commemorate the appearance of the angels to the shepherds on that first Holy Night.
Back in Bethlehem this afternoon we will enter the spectacular Church of the Nativity, the oldest complete church in the Christian world (6th century) and birthplace of Our Lord and Saviour. Bow low and enter the grotto through the Door of Humility as we descend to the Holy Manger where a silver star in the floor marks the actual spot where Jesus was born.
Visit the adjacent Cave of St Jerome where he spent 30 years translating the Scriptures.
Prepare to enjoy tonight our special Breaking the Bread Experience as we enter the homes of local Christians for fellowship and to share in a delicious home-cooked Arabic meal.
Bethlehem overnight (BD)
Theme: The Formative Years of Jesus
Departing Bethlehem this morning we journey north through the Jordan valley, arriving into Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus’ childhood where we first visit Nazareth Village, an authentic non-profit re-creation of the village life of Nazareth as in the days of Jesus. Here we will take a parable-rich walk back in time along the path which brings to life the environment and atmosphere which shaped Jesus’ early years and ministry. Complete our memorable visit with a fascinating Biblical Meal in the original setting of a first-century house.
We then enter Basilica of the Annunciation where a traditional cave becomes the focal point to Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel “Let it be done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). After celebrating Mass, we will visit the nearby Church of St Joseph to commemorate the life of Mary’s beloved spouse. We then enter the nearby Synagogue Church, built on the site where Jesus read the Messianic passage in Isaiah 61 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”…
Rise then to the Mount of Beatitudes to enjoy some reflective time to wander through the Church and tranquil gardens to ponder Jesus’ message of blessedness in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1–12).
Finally, we arrive at the shores of Lake Galilee … “Go to Galilee and you will find him there” (Mt 28:7).
Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD)
Theme: The Public Ministry of Jesus
Arise and set out on a spectacular day of pilgrimage.
Board a traditional ‘Jesus Boat’ sailing vessel for a special Harvest highlight – a Private Mass in the centre of Lake Galilee. Here we will float in quiet tranquility and reflect upon the miracles of Jesus calming the storm and appearing to the apostles walking on this very water.
Back on shore at the Yigal Allon Museum, see the 1st century ‘Jesus boat’ painstakingly raised and restored from the muddy lakebed in 1986.
After our St Peter’s Fish lunch, we visit the village of Cana where Jesus, at the request of His Mother, performed His first miracle transforming the water into wine at the wedding feast (Jn 2:1-12). Here, married couples will have the opportunity to renew their wedding vows.
We return to our hotel before dinner.
Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD)
Theme: Galilee encounters with Jesus
Arise before dawn this morning and ascend to the majestic summit of historic Mt Arbel to marvel at the amazing Sunrise views over the Golan Heights and the full panorama of Lake Galilee.
View the nearby Ancient Arbel Synagogue which sits alone on the side of the hill with its magnificent Galilee backdrop.
From here, pilgrims will take the opportunity to walk a spectacular stretch of the ancient Jesus Trail* frequented by Our Lord in his many travels between Nazareth and Capernaum. This well-worn shepherd’s path offers a rare and genuine experience for able bodied pilgrims to prayerfully encounter the actual footsteps of Jesus down through the rustic pass between the mountains. *Weather and personal fitness dependent
Onwards to the Church of the Primacy of Peter down by the shores of the lake. Here Jesus challenged Peter and each one of us ‘Do you really love me? Feed my sheep.’ Where we will celebrate an outdoor Mass we will never forget.
Departing this tranquil place, we come to nearby Tabgha, site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mt 14:20) and explore the 4th-century church displaying Byzantine mosaics considered to be some of the best in the Holy Land.
We enter Capernaum, the once fishing village of the first apostles Peter, Andrew, James & John which also became the hometown of Jesus and the scene of many of his miracles. Here we will explore the synagogue which dates back to the time of Jesus and see the site of St Peter’s home.
Sea of Galilee overnight (BD)
Theme: Mountains of the Lord
We begin our day ascending by taxis up the narrow winding road leading to the majestic summit of Mt Tabor. Here Our Lord’s divinity shone forth in the Transfiguration (Mt 7:1-2). After our private Mass in this breathtaking setting, we will understand Peter’s words ‘Lord it is good for us to be here’.
Continue west to the city of Haifa wrapped by the intoxicating blue of the Mediterranean Sea on all three sides.
Enter here the Stella Maris Monastery at Mount Carmel where in the lower cave, Elijah was said to have meditated on His victory over the false prophets of Baal (1 ings 18:1-40).
We then enjoy lunch in our hand-picked restaurant with spectacular views over the Mediterranean.
We soon come to the House of Grace to hear the inspired story of a family committed to empowering the most marginalised members of the Haifa community.
Onwards to the crusader port of Caesarea Maritima, built by Herod the Great on the harbour from which Paul was taken to Rome.
Finally, we journey south on and up to Jerusalem – the City of our God.
Jerusalem overnight (BLD)
We set off north for our adventure to the village of Taybeh, once Old Testament Ophrah and New Testament Ephraim visited by Jesus before facing His crucifixion (John 11:54). Taybeh is the last surviving Christian outpost here in the Holy Land and enjoying strong ecumenical bonds between its 1300 inhabitants of Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Melkite communities.
Our fascinating time here will begin with a visit to the Church of St George. This Byzantine Church was built in the 5th century by St Helena, the mother of Constantine and widely known as the first pilgrim to the Holy Land. Also enter a first-century farmers house with its original manger below where we will gain insight into the original Nativity reality. Visit the local Taybeh Brewery which services to bring a sustainable livelihood to this vulnerable community. Sit down then to a sumptuous meal served by the local Order of Nuns. Before departure we take the opportunity to purchase a dove-shaped Taybeh Peace Lamp in solidarity with all peoples of the Holy Land.
Return to Jerusalem for a time of rest.
Before dinner we gather to listen to the courageous stories of the Bereaved Family Forum where both a Palestinian and Israeli representative will share their extraordinary journey from grief and loss to a stunning reconciliation that is sure to inspire us deeply.
Jerusalem overnight (BLD)
Begin our Jerusalem pilgrimage as we proceed up to the Mt of Olives to visit the ‘Pater Noster’ Church where Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer (Mt 6:7–15). Walk down the Palm Sunday Road as pilgrims to the Dominus Flevit Church for Mass, built on the site where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Lk 9:41–44).
We then continue down to the Garden of Gethsemane where we will enter the Church of the Agony containing the rock upon which Jesus is said to have prayed before His arrest. Prepare then for a memorable pilgrim highlight as we gain private group access inside the adjacent ‘Garden of Betrayal‘, for an extended time of prayer and reflection surrounded by ancient olive trees dating back to the time of Christ.
From here we set out by coach across town to the Israel Museum for a lunch break. View the Second Temple Scale Model of Jerusalem as it was in the time of Jesus. In the adjacent Shrine of the Book Museum, we will soon gaze upon parts of the original Dead Sea Scrolls.
Continue back to Mt Zion to the House of Caiaphas and into the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu commemorating Peter’s triple denial of Jesus. Here our pilgrimage moves towards the final phase of Jesus’ passion. Enter the Cenacle room of the Last Supper (Upper Room) where we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Continue to the Church of the Dormition where the Virgin Mary passed into Heaven.
Jerusalem overnight (BD)
We rise at dawn and return to the Old City to commence our Stations of the Cross following in Our Lord’s footsteps along the actual Via Dolorosa. We culminate at the site of Calvary where we will celebrate Mass here in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Walk the stairway climbing to the actual site where the Cross of Jesus once stood. After Mass here enter the Tomb of Christ, the site believed to be where Our Lord lay buried for three days before rising from the dead.
After Breakfast at our hotel, continue to the Church of St Anne with its magnificent acoustics and said to be built over the birthplace of the Virgin Mary. See the adjacent Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralysed man (Jn 5:2–9).
We then return up to the Mt of Olives to the Chapel of the Ascension which is believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended into heaven. A befitting end to our chronological pilgrimage in His footsteps as we recall Jesus’ Great Commission to the eleven disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” – t 28:18
AFTERNOON AT LEISURE.
Before our final dinner, take the brief opportunity to view the Holy Shroud Exhibit with its full-size replica of the sacred cloth.
Enjoy then a Special Celebration Dinner tonight in a wonderful restaurant with spectacular views over all of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem overnight (BD)
We are transferred to the airport for our homebound flight connections or onto the Wonders of Petra extension. (B)
Meal Code: (B) = Breakfast (L) = Lunch (D) = Dinner
* Costs are for tour only and without international airfares. Prices may be subject to change in the event of significant exchange rate variations, hotel & service changes or minimum group size factors beyond Harvest’s control. Refer to Harvest Terms & Conditions for more details.
** Per Person Per Day
Travel east this morning crossing into Jordan.
Visit St Georges Church in Madaba with its precious 6th-century mosaic map of the Holy Land comprised of more than two million pieces.
We continue on and travel south to the magnificent ancient trading city of Petra known as the ‘Red Rose City’ and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Petra overnight (BD)
This morning we enjoy a breathtaking guided walking tour through 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 before your eyes to reveal the Treasury Building (Al-Khazneh) – a never to be forgotten experience. We will see also the Roman Theatre, Corinthian tomb along with churches, homes and many other buildings from this fascinating period.
“Optional Excursion” – Later this afternoon we depart Petra and travel south to Wadi Rum to experience the vastness and beauty of this desert region. A moonscape of ancient valleys and towering weathered sandstone mountains rise out of the pink and white coloured sand.
Join in the exhilaration of a Sunset Bedouin-driven jeep ride deep into the valley to witness the stunning grandeur of this place made famous in the films Lawrence of Arabia and The Martian. Return to the hotel for dinner.
Petra overnight (BD)
Depart Petra today for Amman Airport
Meal Code: (B) = Breakfast (L) = Lunch (D) = Dinner
“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.”