Today a new group of pilgrims arrived all on one flight with no delays! We left the airport and headed to Mt. Carmel to a Druze village where we learned about the Druze religion and were served a wonderful lunch. From there we drove to Magdala for Mass and a visit through the newly excavated site of the town of Magdala. Then we settled into our kibbutz hotel of some much need rest.
On our way to the airport for a late evening departure, we visited the Valley of Elah for teaching by Jeff. Next we had mass in an old Byzantine church at the site of Emmaus. We said our goodbyes at Old Jaffa, the traditional home of Simon the Tanner and the port from which Jonah sailed. From there it was off to the airport!
Perhaps the most meaningful day of the tour, we walked the 14 stations of the Via Dolorosa, Christ's route to the Cross, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for Mass. We had lunch at an open air restaurant in a market area. From there we walked through the Old City of Jerusalem to the Western Wall. After a short drive to Ein Kerem, we walked to the Church of the Visitation where Jeff gave a teaching.
Today we entered Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, passing Rachel's Tomb to visit the Church of the Nativity. We had Mass at St. Catherine's and then visited the grotto beneath the altar of the Church of the Nativity. We stopped at the Shepherd's Fields. for a teaching by Jeff and shopped at Khando's store. At a wonderful lunch spot we were treated with some bedouine dancing. Several joined in! After dinner, Emily gave a talk about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which we will visit as a group tomorrow.
Each morning during our stay in Jerusalem, Fr. Mike escorts a group of early risers to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre before breakfast. For the main touring day, we began with a visit to the St. Anne’s Church, Pool of Bethesda and then on to the excavations around the base of the Temple Mount. Jeff next taught at the Southern Steps. Then we headed to Mt. Zion for Mass at St. Peter in Gallicantu and toured Caiaphas’ House and the stairs that Jesus walked during the week of his passion. After dinner, those who wished visited the Rabbinical Tunnels and viewed the Western Wall by night.
The day began on the Mount of Olives walking down the hill visiting Dominus Flevit, the church that commemorates the spot where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Continuing on we went to the Garden of Gethsemane and into the Church of All Nations for Mass. After crossing the Kidron Valley, we drove up to Mt. Zion and visited the Upper Room, finishing the day at the Israel Museum, Shrine of the Book, and a Model of 1st Century Jerusalem.
We departed early for the Mt. of Transfiguration for mass, then we stopped at the huge archeological site of Bet She'an. Next we passed by the oasis of Jericho on the way to visit Qumran to tour the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. We then ascended to the Golden City of Jerusalem and shared a tradition Hebrew blessing overlooking the city from the promenade. We are now staying at the Olive Tree Hotel for the remainder of our stay. It is a few blocks from the Old City of Jerusalem, so we can walk in early in the morning to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Today the body of Ariel Sharon lay in state near the Knesset. His funeral is tomorrow.
This morning we toured the site of Capernaum, Jesus headquarters for his ministry. We had mass in the modern church of St. Peter's that is built right above the house of St. Peter where Jesus taught and performed miracles. Then Jeff gave a teaching in the synagogue just a few yards away. We visited Tabgha, the site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and then to the church of St. Peter Primacy, where the priests renewed their vows to the priesthood. Next we traveled north to Caesarea Philippi for a teaching there by Jeff and then to the ancient site of Tel Dan that has two gates exposed -- one is from the time of Abraham and the other is from the time of the Divided Kingdom.
This morning we started the day with Mass at the Church of the Annunciation, followed by a stop in Cana for the opportunity to renew marriage vows. Next we spent time at Kfar Kedem, a spot that brings us back to the first century with donkey rides, baking bread and milking goats. We crossed the Sea of Galilee by boat and landed at our kibbutz for a St. Peter's fish dinner.
This morning we started the day at Caesarea Maritima for a tour of the ruins of Herod the Great's palace complex where St. Paul was held prisoner on his way to Rome. Jeff gave a teaching in the theater. Next we headed to Mt. Carmel for a view of the land, passing Megiddo and on to Magdala, the home town of St. Mary Magdalene. We had a historic moment there as we are the first pilgrim's group to every have in the newly built church overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Fr. Steven Hoffman was the presider. The Legionaries of Christ are building an entire pilgrim's center where all are welcome. From there we went to our kibbutz where we will be staying for the next few nights along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
During one of the coldest winter storms in decades, 230 pilgrims set out for the Holy Land! Here is a look at a few folks departing Minnesota, where it was -20. Brrrrr! Next time you see them, they won't be wearing their coats!
For all pilgrims for January 2014, here is a video that will give you lots of information about our upcoming trips. If you have a specific question, please be sure you have read the information on the "Some Things You Should Know About Israel" sheet you were sent by Bonnie because most likely you will find the answer there!
Here is another helpful video by Jeff regarding journaling, recording, cameras and clothing!
So far for 2014 there are 3 pilgrimages scheduled for the Holy Land.
January 7-20 is our annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land and it is currently on a waitlist.
January 20-31 is our Mountain Top Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and it has space available.
May 11-22 Jeff and Curtis Martin of FOCUS Ministries will lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Information on this pilgrimage will be available soon.
Call Emily for more information: 763-420-1074
Our January 2014 pilgrimage to the Holy Land is nearly at a waitlist!
Our pilgrimage to the Shrines of St. Kateri have been postponed until the summer of 2014. Details will follow.
For those of you who have traveled to the Holy Land with us before, we have a revisitors tour going in January 2014. Please contact Bonnie Lane 952-474-0903, firstname.lastname@example.org or Emily Cavins 763-420-1074 for more information!
This year we have a domestic pilgrimage to the Shrines of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in New York, Montreal and Midland, Ontario, July 11-19, 2013. For this Year of Faith and in honor of St. Kateri's recent canonization, we are going to visit her shrine in Fonda on her Feast Day, July 14 and celebrate it with others from around the world.
This pilgrimage will be great for young and old, singles or families. Please visit the pilgrimage website for the St. Kateri trip for a brochure and more information.
Registration for the January 2014 Israel trip will start sometime in March 2013.
Elah Valley, Emmaus, Jaffa ~ After we checked out of the hotel in the morning, we began our last day of touring by traveling through Old Testament lands to the Elah Valley where David slew Goliath (Samuel 17.) Mass was held at a site associated with ancient Emmaus, the Roman city of Emmaus Nicopolis, where we remember how Jesus’ revealed Himself to those who walked on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35.) Our last visit was to the ancient port of Jaffa (Joppa.) This is the city of Jonah’s defection (Jonah 1:3) & Peter’s vision (Acts 10:5-9) at the home of Simon the Tanner- one of the oldest cities in the world. Today it is a charming artist community. Its setting gave us a sense of the ancient Middle East we came to see. It is also a city of partings & departure & is where we said good-bye to our guides & drivers before heading to the airport. Soon we will all be home!
Mt Zion, Caiaphas’ home, Jewish Quarter, Temple Mount area, Southern Steps of Temple Mount, Ein Kerem ~ On Mt Zion we had mass is at the church that recalls Peter’s denial on the night Jesus was betrayed, St. Peter in Gallicantu (Matthew 26:69-75.) The church is built over the High Priest Caiaphas’ home (Matthew 26:57,) where Jesus was held that same night. Next we went to the Temple Mount area to tour the Jewish Quarter & learn of the exciting discoveries that were only possible after the Reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. Visiting the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount brought us in direct contact with the stones that Jesus & the disciples walked on when they visited the Temple in the 1st century. Jeff taught in his newly purchased Talit, or Jewish prayer shawl. After lunch we visited Ein Kerem the birthplace of John the Baptist where the Virgin Mary visited Elizabeth.