A Pilgrimage through the Biblical Lands of Israel & Palestine
The Dean of Salisbury, The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos
I am thrilled to introduce the first pilgrimage to the Holy Land of my time as Dean. I hope that you will be able to join me.
I made my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2016. It was a quite overwhelming experience. Since then I have had the privilege of leading two further pilgrimages, and the prospect of returning to Israel and Palestine in 2020 is very exciting.
Why? Because if you are able to come then together we will walk the landscape in which Jesus walked. Together we will pray in places where generations of Christians have prayed, and catch a fresh glimpse of our belonging in an innumerable company of faithful men and women drawn by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And together we hear the voices of those who live and work, rejoice and grieve in the towns and villages of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories today. In their stories above all we will come face to face with God, who made himself known in Jesus, who is among us as one who suffers, and yet who draws life eternal out of that suffering.
It will be, I am confident, an unforgettable opportunity for pilgrims to encounter the living God.
- Scheduled flights on British Airways from London Heathrow
- 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
- All gratuities to guides, drivers, porters and hotel staff
- Single room (limited availability) £445
- Travel Insurance
- Any items of a personal nature (laundry & drinks etc)
Day 1, Saturday 23rd May
We gather at London Heathrow Airport for our morning flight to Tel Aviv. Lunch will be served in-flight. On arrival we are met by our guide and then travel north to our guest house on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 2, Sunday 24th May
We begin our pilgrimage with a drive to Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew to adulthood. We join the local Anglican community for Sunday worship at Christ Church. We will then visit the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Synagogue-Church (where the “Nazareth Manifesto” was proclaimed) before breaking for a light lunch nearby. In the afternoon we drive across the Jezreel Valley to Mount Tabor and ascend to the summit to visit the Church of the Transfiguration. There we will say Evening Prayer before returning to our guest house in time for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 3, Monday 25th May
We begin our day with a short drive or walk to the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, followed by a visit to the Church of Peter Primacy, the scene of Jesus’s lakeside resurrection appearance. We then drive up to the summit of the Mount of Beatitudes with its amazing views over the Sea of Galilee and the countryside where Jesus lived and ministered. After a break for lunch we visit ancient Capernaum, the centre of Jesus’s Galilean ministry. We will sail in a contemporary version of the boats used 2,000 years ago, and see the remarkable remains of a historic boat recovered from the lake which dates to the first century CE. We return to our guest house for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 4, Tuesday 26th May
We make an early start and head south through the heart of the occupied West Bank. We pause in the Palestinian city of Nablus (the Biblical Shechem). Here we will visit Jacob’s Well, where Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman drawing water. We then drive down the Jordan Valley to the site believed to be close to where Jesus was baptised by John. Here we renew our baptismal vows. We then journey to nearby Jericho, the city of palms, for lunch and a view of the Mount of Temptation and we stop at the sycamore tree traditionally (very traditionally!) associated with Zacchaeus. In the late afternoon we drive up through the Judean Wilderness towards Jerusalem. On arrival we will go to the Israel Museum to view the ancient model of Jerusalem (showing the city as it was in the time of Jesus) before continuing to our hotel within the Old City Walls. There will be time to freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 5, Wednesday 27th May
After breakfast we make our way to the city’s Lion Gate to visit the Pools of Bethesda and the beautiful Crusader Church of St Anne (the mother of the Virgin Mary). We then drive to the summit of the Mount of Olives for a breathtaking view of the Old City and its magnificent medieval walls before we follow Jesus’s Palm Sunday journey from Bethphage down the mountain, stopping at the Church of Dominus Flevit (which commemorates Jesus’s tears for Jerusalem) before reaching the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations. After lunch we make our way to the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu. Here Peter denied Jesus; beneath are excavations of what is believed to be the house of Caiaphas. We return to our hotel in good time to freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 6, Thursday 28th May
Early rise! We begin our day with an optional visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (06:00) to avoid the crowds and return to our hotel for breakfast. After packing we leave Jerusalem and drive towards Bethlehem, continuing through the check-point in the 9-metre high separation wall and continue to nearby Beit Sahour to visit the Shepherds’ Fields. This is the traditional site where the shepherds watched their flocks on the night of Jesus’s birth. After a snack lunch we will visit the Aida Refugee Camp (one of three refugee camps in Bethlehem) where we will hear about pioneering cultural work among third generation child refugees at the Al Rowwad project. We then travel across to west Jerusalem to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum returning to Bethlehem and our hotel in good time for dinner. Overnight stay in Bethlehem.
Day 7, Friday 29th May
Another early morning: we rise and make our way to the Church of the Nativity, the site of Jesus’s birth (and the adjoining Catholic Church built above the caves where St Jerome translated the Bible into Latin). We return to our hotel for breakfast and leave the hotel for the Nassar family farm, better known as the Tent of Nations. Daoud’s family have owned the hilltop for more than 100 years and have a peaceful mission to build bridges between the peoples of the Holy Land. We return to Bethlehem for lunch. In the afternoon we will drive south to visit Kibbutz Shoval, a Jewish Israeli community whose members will show us around and talk to us about their life. Then we travel to Beit Jala (a suburb of Bethlehem) to meet with representatives of a remarkable Israeli organisation. 'Breaking the Silence' comprises young men and women who have served in the Israeli army and are now committed to telling their people the real nature of the occupation. Then dinner and overnight stay in Bethlehem.
Day 8, Saturday 30th May
This morning – if the political climate permits - we experience both the huge depth of religious history in the Holy Land and its modern-day problems. We visit Hebron, site of the Tombs of the Patriarchs and see how the Old City centre has been divided and impoverished by the Occupation. Hebron glass is famous and we will also visit a glass factory and a weaving factory where the famous Palestinian ‘keffiyeh’ headdresses are made before breaking for a lunch. In the afternoon we drive down to the Dead Sea and visit Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. We also visit the excavations of an Essene community, from where the scrolls probably originated. We will also have an opportunity to bathe (or float!) in the unique mineral-laden waters of the Dead Sea before returning to Bethlehem for dinner. Overnight stay in Bethlehem.
Day 9, Sunday 31st May
This morning after an early breakfast we drive to the Mother Church of Anglicanism in the Holy Land, St George’s Cathedral in East Jerusalem and join its congregation for their Eucharist. We then drive over to the Lion Gate and make our way up to the Ecce Homo Arch and begin our walk along the Way of the Cross, through the narrow streets of the Via Dolorosa. These culminate in the extraordinary Church of the Holy Sepulchure, believed to be built over the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection. After a break for lunch we will visit the Western Wall, a section of the retaining wall of King Solomon’s Temple esplanade and the holiest site in Judaism. We will return to Bethlehem in the late afternoon for our farewell dinner. Overnight stay in Bethlehem.
Day 10, Monday 1st June
After packing our bags, we drive the outskirts of Bethlehem to visit the Herodion, a fortress built by Herod the Great. This monumental fortress and palace complex stands on the highest hill in the Judean desert and is where Herod was laid to rest. From here we head west towards the Mediterranean and the airport, stopping at the town of Abu Gosh, one of the possible sites of the Biblical Emmaus, to celebrate a final Eucharist with the hospitable religious community there. We have lunch before heading to the airport for our flight home. We land back at London Heathrow in the late evening.