An 8 day Pilgrimage through the Biblical Lands of Israel & Palestine
The Very Rev’d Anna Matthews
Every Christian, if possible, should visit the Holy Land at least once in his or her lifetime. To walk amid the towns and villages where our Lord lived and worked is life-changing. It reminds us that our faith is not in an idea or abstraction but in a Person who lived and died and rose again at a particular time and in a particular place.
We do not just visit the Holy Land, however – we go on pilgrimage to it. Not only because that is what our ancestors in the faith have done over the centuries but because pilgrimage is what our whole life is: a sacred journey home to God. To engage in that sacred journey on sacred soil is a wonderful gift and opportunity for our faith. To renew our Baptismal vows in the river Jordan and to celebrate the Eucharist in Jerusalem adds a whole new dimension to our worship and faith.
To go on pilgrimage as a parish teaches us that we are saved together, as part of the Body of Christ. We deepen and make new friendships, we re-learn that our journey is not made alone and we share this holy place with those with whom we share worship Sunday by Sunday.
This booklet gives the itinerary for our pilgrimage. Not everything is compulsory: for those who prefer to journey at a slower pace, opting out of some of the visits is possible, and for all of us it is important that there is space for prayer, contemplation and reflection as well as visiting sacred shrines and enjoying time together.
I hope you can join us.
Anna Matthews, Vicar
- Scheduled flights on Easyjet Airways from Luton Airport
- All airport departure & passenger taxes (UK & Israel)
- Accommodation at selected guest houses & hotels:
- All entrance fees and local government taxes
- Qualified English speaking guide throughout the tour
- All touring in modern air-conditioned tourist coaches
- Single room (limited availability) £475
- Travel Insurance
- Gratuities £75
- Any items of a personal nature (laundry & drinks etc)
Day 1, Saturday 24 October
We gather at London Luton Airport for our morning flight to Tel Aviv. Meal served in-flight. We will be met on arrival and transferred to our hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee for the first of three nights stay. Dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 2, Sunday 25 October
We begin our pilgrimage by driving to Nazareth, the town associated with the beginning of the gospel message, to see how the Good News is both remembered and lived out today. We will join the local Anglican congregation at Christ Church for Sunday Worship. We will then visit the site of the only spring in town, where Jesus’ mother will have drawn water, as well as the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Synagogue Church. We then proceed to Cana, the site of Jesus’ first sign. We then drive across the green and fertile plains of Jezreel (the biblical scene of Armageddon) to visit the basilica on the summit of Mount Tabor, claimed to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus before Peter, James and John. On descending Mount Tabor we return to our hotel. Dinner and overnight by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 3, Monday 26 October
Today will be devoted to a leisurely exploration of the area that was the base for Jesus’ ministry by the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. We will visit sites associated with the call of the first disciples, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and the excavations of the ancient fishing village of Capernaum, known as the “Town of Jesus’ – where we will view The House of Peter and a partially reconstructed fourth century Synagogue, foundations of which date back to the time of Jesus and the probable site of much of his preaching. We will end our day with a visit to the exciting excavations at Magdala, the home town of Jesus’ close friend and follower, Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala). It was a major first-century port and specialised in salted and smoked fish and exported its products all over the Mediterranean and southern Europe. The excavations to date have unearthed sections of the port walls, a market, several homes, shops and most importantly a first century synagogue that was probably destroyed by the Romans around 67AD. Return to our hotel by the Sea of Galilee in good time to freshen up before dinner.
Day 4, Tuesday 27 October
We leave Galilee after an early breakfast and head south along the Jordan Valley and stop at Qasr al Yehud. We then journey down to the banks of the River Jordan to visit the site believed to be close to where Jesus was baptized by John and where we will have an opportunity to renew our baptism vows. We will stop briefly for a view of the Mount of Temptation before stopping for coffee in Jericho. We then leave Jericho and drive up through the hills of the Judean wilderness towards Bethlehem. We pass through the Check-point in the 9 metre high separation wall and enter Bethlehem. After a break for lunch we will visit the Shepherds’ Fields and the Church of the Nativity. We will also include a visit to the St Vincent Crèche/Orphanage, the only facility of its kind in the West Bank offering Christian love and compassion to over forty abandoned babies and small children. We then continue to Jerusalem and check-in to our hotel within the Old Walled City.
Day 5, Wednesday 28 October
Today on leaving the hotel we drive up to the summit of the Mount of Olives and stop briefly for a breath taking view of the Old City and its beautiful medieval walls. We then trace Jesus’ Palm Sunday journey from Bethphage down the mountain. We will stop at two churches on the way, the Church of Dominus Flevit (which commemorates Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem) and the Church of the Pater Noster before reaching the Garden of Gethsemane and the profoundly moving Church of the Agony. We will spend some time here and in the adjacent Garden. After a break for lunch we drive up Mount Zion to visit sites associated with the Last Supper, the Day of Pentecost and the falling asleep of Mary, before finishing our day at the church of St Peter in Gallicantu and recalling Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. Return to our hotel in good time to relax and freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay In Jerusalem.
Day 6, Thursday 29 October
After an early breakfast we leave our hotel and drive around to the Dung gate and proceed through to the Western Wall, a section of the original retaining wall of the second temple esplanade which is the holiest site in Judaism. If we are permitted we will ascend the Temple Mount to view the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. We 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 souks of the Old City or to visit sites of particular interest. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 7, Friday 30 October
After breakfast we drive over to West Jerusalem and the Israel Museum to visit the Shrine of the Book and the amazing scaled model of Jerusalem based around the time of Jesus. Late morning we leave Jerusalem and drive down into the Dead Sea basin, the lowest point on the earth’s surface (1,388 feet below sea level). We begin by visiting Qumran to view the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd and to view the excavated monastery of the Essene community which may have produced the famous scrolls. After a break for lunch there will then be an opportunity to bathe in the unique mineral-laden waters of the Dead Sea. In the afternoon we will drive back to Jerusalem and our hotel.in good time for dinner. After dinner we will have the opportunity to visit the Western Wall on the Jewish Sabbath. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 8, Saturday 31 October
After breakfast and packing our bags, we will head west towards the Mediterranean and Tel Aviv airport, stopping at the town of Abu Ghosh, one of the possible sites of Emmaus, to celebrate a final Eucharist together before heading on to the airport for our journey home to tell all those whom we meet about what has happened to us on the road…