THE HOLY LAND
In the footsteps of Jesus
with an option to visit amazing Petra
Rt Revd Prof. David Walker, Bishop of Manchester
2nd – 9th November 2023
Following the immense success of our 2017 pilgrimage I have been asked to lead another in 2023 and this booklet gives you materials to enrich the eight days we will be spending in the Holy Land. I urge you to read it as you prepare for this trip. But no amount of literature will fully prepare you for what this visit hopes to achieve. We will travel together as pilgrims, building understanding and friendships across our Diocese and beyond our local experience of the Church. Our travels through the Holy Land will introduce us to the landscape that shaped Jesus, and teach us to read the Gospels with fresh eyes as we stand on the shore of Lake Galilee, or the Mount of the Transfiguration, or walk through the streets of Jerusalem. They will also reveal the impact of 2000 years of struggle and conflict. We will meet Christians, Jews and Muslims who live in a constant climate of rivalry and fear.
I invite you to come prepared to be changed by what you see, and what you will discuss with fellow pilgrims and local people. Expect to be inspired and angered by the situations and contrasts that confront you. But travel in the spirit of the disciples on the Emmaus Road, whose lives were turned around by their encounter with the risen Christ.
We will meet Palestinian Christians who trace their ancestry back in time and continue to follow the teachings of Jesus; Muslims and Jews who are trying to make sense of living in a region awash with difficulties and begin to understand what it means to be ‘people of the book’ in the harsh realities of the 21st century.
There will be time for worship and reflection.
- Scheduled flights on EasyJet Manchester
- All airport departure & passenger taxes (UK & Israel)
- 8 nights accommodation at selected hotels
- All entrance fees and local government taxes
- All touring in modern air-conditioned tourist coaches
- Single room price per person £2545
- Travel insurance
- Gratuities £75
- Any items of a personal nature (laundry & drinks etc)
Day 1, Thursday 2 November
Journeying to the Holy Land
We meet at Manchester Airport for our non-stop flight to Tel Aviv, arriving in the early evening. On arrival we will be met by our guide and driver and then driven north to Galilee and our hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee which will be our home for the next three nights. Dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 2, Friday 3 November
Revelation and Annunciation
We start our pilgrimage by driving to Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up, to, visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, the largest Christian church in Israel, believed to have been built on the house in which the Holy Family lived and an old synagogue church. We then proceed to the village of Cana, the site of Jesus’ first sign, for a brief visit before breaking for lunch. After lunch we drive across the fertile Jezreel Valley, the plains of Armageddon to visit Mount Tabor and the Basilica of the Transfiguration on the summit, where we will celebrate the Eucharist. On descending Mount Tabor we return to our hotel in good time to freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 3, Saturday 4 November
Teaching and Feeding
Today we will focus on the principal sites of Jesus’ ministry around the home he made for himself by the Sea of Galilee. After commemorating the call of the first disciples in a Eucharist by the Sea itself, as well as sites associated with the Feeding of the 5000, the recommissioning of Peter and the giving of the Sermon on the Mount. We will sail on the Sea of Galilee and then break for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit the excavated ruins of Capernaum and the ruins of Kursi, the site associated with the Gadarene swine. We will have time to reflect before returning to our hotel in good time to relax before dinner. Overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 4, Sunday 5 November
An ancient route and Bethlehem
This morning we leave Galilee after an early breakfast and drive south through the heart of the West Bank to the city of Nablus to visit Jacob’s Well, where the Fourth Gospel tells us of Jesus’ encounter with the woman drawing water. We will continue through the beautiful hills of Samaria and on to the town of Bethlehem where we will break for lunch. In the afternoon we begin by visiting the Shepherds Fields and the Church of the Nativity, one of the oldest churches in Christendom, as well as seeing the work of a remarkable Christian institution endeavouring to bring something of the abundant life promised in the gospel to those living under the restrictions of the Occupation. St Vincent Creche/Orphanage is the only facility of its kind in the West Bank, offering Christian love and compassion to over forty abandoned babies and small children. Leaving Bethlehem we continue to Jerusalem and check-in to our hotel situated within the walls of the Old City. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 5, Monday 6 November
I do not know the man
After an early breakfast we leave our hotel and drive to the summit of the Mount of Olives for a breathtaking view of the Old Walled City and its beautiful medieval walls before we trace our way from Bethphage, the traditional starting point of the procession of palms, to the church of the Pater Noster where we recall Jesus’ teaching of the Lord’s Prayer to His disciples and the Church of Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept over the fate of the city. Finally, we reach the Garden of Gethsemane and the dark and brooding Church of All Nations, where we recall Jesus’ agonised prayers prior to His arrest and reflect on the failure of His closest friends to keep awake and watch with him. We then break for lunch and in the afternoon we drive to Mount Zion, where the earliest Christian community lived in the days following the resurrection. Here we will find a site commemorating both the traditional site of the Upper Room used for the Last Supper as well as the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and a striking abbey in honour of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. The principal focus of the afternoon, however, will be a visit to the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, built at the top of an ancient set of steps which leads up from the City of David to what is believed to have been the residence of the Jewish High Priest. Many believe that Jesus himself was led up these steps to his trial by the authorities after his arrest. Here we recall not only Jesus’ incarceration over the last night of his life but, also, Peter’s faithless threefold denial of Jesus. We will celebrate the Eucharist here before returning to our hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 6, Tuesday 7 November
Taking up the cross
We begin our day by driving around to St Stephen’s (Lion) Gate and then make our way to the remarkable church of St Anne and the Pools of Bethesda, which we will visit, before coming to the start of the Via Dolorosa. Here we will celebrate the Eucharist and then wind our way through the narrow alleys of the Old City following the traditional Way of the Cross, culminating in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After time to reflect we will leave Jerusalem and drive down to the oasis city of Jericho and break for lunch. In the afternoon we will drive down to Qasr al Yehud on the River Jordan, probably the very site where John baptised Jesus, where we will have an opportunity of renewing our baptismal vows. Leaving the River Jordan we will stop briefly for a view of the Mount of Temptation before driving to the Dead Sea where we will have an option of bathing in it’s unique mineral laden waters. Late afternoon we drive up through the hills of the Judean Wilderness back towards Jerusalem and our hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 7, Wednesday 8 November
Sunday in Jerusalem
There will be an early morning opportunity to revisit the Church of the Holy Sepulchure to see it in use on Sunday morning, as the different denominations celebrate their liturgies alongside each other. Later in the morning we will visit the Anglican Cathedral to worship alongside our Palestinian sisters and brothers. After a break for lunch we drive over to west Jerusalem to visit Yad Vashem, the deeply moving Holocaust Museum and park and the Israel Museum to view the Dead Sea Scrolls and model of Jerusalem based around the time of Jesus. Return to our hotel. Farwell dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 8, Thursday 9 November
Emmaus & our journey home
After packing our bags and breakfast we drive to Abu Ghosh, one of the traditional sites associated with the Emmaus story where we will celebrate our final Eucharist in the Holy Land. We say goodbye to our friends continuing on the optional Jordan extension before heading towards our flight home and the chance to tell others what has happened to us on the road…
Optional Jordan extension
Day 8, Thursday 9 November
We say goodbye to our friends returning home and drive down to the Jericho and after lunch we drive to the border and on completion of formalities we cross the River Jordan where we meet our guide and drive to Madaba (Medba in the Bible), the city of mosaics and our hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Madaba.
Day 9, Friday 10 November
This morning after an early start we drive south down the Desert Highway to spend the day in the ancient city of Petra - "a rose-red city half as old as time" to learn about the legacy of the Nabataeans who settled in South Jordan over 2,000 years ago and embraced Christianity. From the main entrance we will travel on foot through the awesome ‘Siq’, an immense crack in the sandstone that winds for 1 km between overhanging cliffs. At the end of the Siq is Petra’s most famous monument, the Treasury, and literally hundreds of buildings, facades, tombs, baths, funerary halls, temples and a 3000 seat Roman theatre. Late afternoon we return to Madaba for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 10, Saturday 11 November
After breakfast we drive to the remarkable ruins of Jerash, where there are substantial remains of the vast Roman city that was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis at the time of Jesus. We will have a thorough tour of this breath-taking site. After a break for lunch we drive to Mount Nebo to stand on the site where Moses gazed across to the Promised Land and finally we return to Madaba to visit St George's Greek Orthodox Church to see the 6th Century mosaic map showing Jerusalem as the centre of the world. Dinner and overnight stay in Madaba. Early night!
Day 11, Sunday 12 November
After an early breakfast we leave Madaba and drive back to the Allenby Bridge to cross back over the River Jordan into the Promised Land and after a break for lunch proceed to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport for our journey home.