Holy Land, Greece
& San Giovanni Rotondo Pilgrimage
Spiritual Director: Fr. Jesse Perez
May 26 - June 10, 2019
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare
- Airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- Accommodations at centrally located first class hotels: (or similar)
- ~ 3 nights: May 27 – May 30: Leonardo Plaza, Tiberias
- ~ 2 nights: June 03 – June 05: Hotel Metropolitan, Athens, Greece
- ~ 1 night : June 05 – Jun 06: Hotel Amelia Kalambaka, Meteora, Greece
- ~ 2 nights: June 06 – June 08: Hotel Holiday Inn, Thessaloniki, Greece
- ~ 2 nights: June 08 – June 10: Centro di Spiritualita Padre Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo
- Transfers as per itinerary
- Breakfast and Dinner daily
- Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach
- Free Wi-Fi on motor coach in Holy Land
- Assistance of a professional local Christian guide(s)
- Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary
- Mass daily & Spiritual activities
- Tips to hotel staff, restaurants, luggage handlers
- Luggage handling (1 piece per person)
- Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
- Lunches, Beverages unless mentioned, Tips to your guide & driver.
Sun, May 26: Depart Denver
Board your flight for the start of your journey to Tel Aviv with complimentary meals and beverages served on board.
Mon, May 27: Arrive Tel Aviv and continue to Tiberias
Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, you will be met by the 206 Tours representative and transfer to your hotel in the Tiberias. Dinner will be served at the hotel.
Tue, May 28: Mukhraka - Magdala - Jordan River
This morning, after breakfast, we will travel north to Haifa to visit Stella Maris, a Carmelite Monastery with the Madonna of Mt Carmel. After enjoying the view of the bay of Acco, we will drive to Mukhraka and visit the Monastery that commemorates Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal. Continue on to the Sea of Galilee to visit the fascinating new excavations at Magdala. We will end the day at the very spot where the Jordan river flows from the Sea of Galilee, leaving time to reflect on the Baptism at the Jordan River (There will also be time for you to renew your own Baptism.) Check-in to your hotel by the lake. Dinner and Overnight.
Wed, May 29: Nazareth – Cana - Mount Arbel
Theme: The Annunciation
After breakfast, we will drive to Nazareth, the site of Mary’s home and the town where Jesus lived as a child. In Nazareth, we will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation, followed by a visit the Church of St. Joseph and Mary’s Well. Also see Nazareth Village, a careful recreation of what a Galilean village would have been like at the time of Jesus. We continue with a visit to Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle at the request of His mother [John 2:1-11]. Return to visit the Franciscan chapel for those who wish to perform the renewal of their wedding vows. Make our way back to Tiberias, with a stop at Mt Arbel, where you take in a beautiful panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee region where Jesus started His ministry. End the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Thu, May 30: Mt. Tabor – Samaria - Jerusalem
Theme: The Transfiguration & Jesus in Samaria
Today, after breakfast, we will drive to Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration, with time to reflect on Christ’s Humanity and Divinity, and a good preparation for your journey back to Jerusalem, where Jesus was to suffer the crucifixion and resurrection. Mass will be celebrated here, at the Basilica here designed to represent 3 tents. Continue south through Samaria, a land rich in Old Testament history. Near Jenin is the Church built over the cave where the 10 lepers healed by Jesus had been banished to. Continue on to Sebastia to see this fascinating site that is rarely visited. Under Herod it was a major city as evidenced by the impressive remains. It is here that Salome danced for Herod and asked for the head of John the Baptist as a reward. The Byzantines built a large Basilica and monastery in his memory. Drive through the valley between the twin peaks of Mt Gerizim and Mt Ebal, known in the Old Testament as Mt. Blessing and Mt Cursing. Stop at Jacob‘s Well, hewn out of solid rock over 100 feet deep. As it is manually dug out, it is most certainly the same well mentioned in the Gospel of John. The water at the bottom of the well is fed by flowing water, which is why ancients gave it the name of “living water”. It is at this well that Jesus met the Samaritan woman and said to her: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Many pilgrims today like to drink from the well. We will continue on towards Jerusalem, passing Shiloh, where the Ark of Covenant was kept and through the beautiful Levonah valley, referred to in Judges as the Valley of the Dancers. Arrive to Jerusalem, check-in to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Fri, May 31: Jerusalem: Via Dolorosa - Holy Sepulchre
Theme: The Way of the Cross, The Crucifixion, The Resurrection
This morning we start the Via Dolorosa (The Way of the Cross) at the Antonia Fortress, where Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate. From there He was taken through the city to be crucified. The Stations of the Cross lead, through the markets of the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Here is the site of Calvary and the Tomb of Christ. Mass will be in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After breakfast visit the Church of St Anne’s, the Pool of Bethesda and the Sisters of Zion. This afternoon there will be time to revisit the Old City. Dinner and Overnight.
Sat, Jun 01: Jerusalem – Bethlehem & St. Saba’s Monastery
This morning will consist of a visit to the Mount of Olives to take in the panoramic view of Jerusalem. While at Gethsemane, we will reflect on Jesus’ final night. The Garden contains trees, which the roots date back to the time of Jesus. Visit the Church of All Nations to pray at the “Rock of Agony,” a section of bedrock identified as the place where Jesus prayed alone in the garden on the night of His arrest. Nearby is the unusual underground Church of the Tomb of Mary. Then up to Mt Zion to visit the Upper Room, and the Church of Peter in Gallicantu. In the afternoon we drive to Bethlehem to see the caves at the Shepherds’ Field. The caves have soot marks of the fires that shepherd’s lit to keep warm while watching over their flocks. Then continue to Bethlehem, beginning at Manger Square which stands in front of one of the oldest of Christian churches, the Church of the Nativity. Enter the Church and down to the Grotto of the Nativity which marks the spot of Jesus’ birth. Beneath the Altar, there is a silver star with the Latin inscription: HIC DE VIRGINE MARIA JESUS CHRISTUS NATUS (Here Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary.) In the afternoon, drive through the Judean Wilderness to view the Desert Monasteries of Mar Saba* (mini buses included) Dinner and overnight. (Only men are allowed to enter the Monastery at St Saba’s)
Sun, Jun 02: Temple Mount – Ancient Churches – Yad Vashem
Theme: Jesus in Jerusalem
Today we will explore Jerusalem. At the steps of the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, ponder the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the finding of Jesus at the Temple and the healing of the blind man at the Temple. See the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. Visit the Davidson Centre where you can learn how daily life in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus, revolved around the Temple rituals. Continuing to visit the new City of David excavation, the heart of Biblical Jerusalem, and the Pool of Siloam. Walk through the alleyways of the Old City, and stop at two of the oldest churches in Christendom, St Mark’s Assyrian Orthodox Church and St James Armenian Orthodox Church. On for a visit to YadVashem, the Holocaust memorial. Return to hotel for dinner and overnight. Return to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Mon, Jun 03: Tel Aviv - Athens
Following breakfast take a short flight to Athens. Upon landing at Athens Airport, make your way to the baggage claim area and collect your luggage. Proceed to the arrival's hall, where you will be greeted by your tour guide and/or driver. You will be escorted to the bus and get to know the town! While in Athens, you will witness a number of ancient artifacts. This evening enjoy a delicious meal. Overnight in Athens.
Tue, June 04: Athens Tour - Excursion to Corinth
After a nice breakfast at the hotel we will start with a tour of the oldest city in the world, Athens! Visit the rock that has dominated the panorama of Athens for twenty-five centuries, the Acropolis. At the Acropolis, you will see the ruins of the Parthenon, Erectheum, and Propylae. After, you will ascend Mars Hill of where Saint Paul spoke to the Athenians. At this site, Paul spoke to the Athenians about the one and only God (Acts 17:22). While in this city, you will be able to view the ancient Agora, the former public center of Athenian life. As you are in the former political center, proceed for a drive through the city to view the House of Parliament on Syntagma Square. Also, you will have the opportunity to view the University of Athens, the oldest higher education institute in Greece, as well as, the National Library of Greece that holds 4,500 Greek manuscripts. Then, visit Panathenaic Stadium, the beautifully marbled multi-purpose stadium. It is home to the Olympian Zeus, and is the site of the first modern era Olympics (1896). Following your visit in Athens, you will proceed to the ancient Corinth. Under the shadow of the towering Acropolis, Saint Paul lived in Corinth for two years. While here, Saint Paul felt great grief over the way that the Gentile Church in Corinth has become. Following your visit to Corinth, return to Athens for a delicious meal and overnight.
Wed, June 05: Athens - Meterora
After breakfast we will drive from Athens to Meteora to visit Meteora Monasteries. In the eleventh century, there were monks who settled within caves. However, as the occupation of the Turkish increased, the monks were forced to move their settlements higher upon the rocks until they were unreachable by any opposing enemy. These settlements became Monasteries by bringing building, and living, materials by ladders and baskets. The Meteora Monasteries are notorious for preserving not only the Hellenic religion, but also, their academics and arts. During your visit, you will be able to view stunning Byzantine art, as well as the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the Monastery. Continue to Meteora for dinner and overnight.
Thu, Jun 06: Meteora – Kavala – Philippi - Thessaloniki
After breakfast we’ll drive from Meteora to Philipi with stop at modern city of Kavala, which was once the ancient Neapolis. This port is where Saint Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy landed when they sailed into Europe. We then continue to Philipi, the city where Saint Paul the Apostle delivered his first sermon and where he established the first church in Europe. Also, it is the site of where Saint Paul baptized a woman named Lydia, the first convert to Christianity in Europe. Visit the Roman Forum where Saint Paul cast a spirit out of a fortune-telling woman. While here, you will have the opportunity to view the prison (now in ruins) of where Saint Paul and Silas were thrown into by the owners of the fortune-tellers. We then continue to Thesaloniki for dinner and overnight.
Fri, June 07: Thessaloniki
Start the day with breakfast at the hotel. In the winter of 49-50 A.D., Saint Paul wrote two epistles to the Thessalonians. These letters urged Christians to "live blamelessly" and to refrain from living idly while they wait for the second coming of Christ. While in Thessaloniki, you will witness a number of ancient artifacts, such as the triumphal Arch of Galerius that is found at the start of Via Egnatia. Due to the convenient location, this arch was once a strategic artery of the Roman Empire. It was originally constructed in order to honor the Roman Emperor Galerius following the Roman victory over the Persians. Enjoy the farewell dinner and overnight in Thesaloniki.
Sat, June 08: Thessaloniki Airport – Rome Airport – Monte Cassino - San Giovanni Rotondo
This morning following breakfast we transfer to Thessaloniki Airport for a short flight to Rome. Welcome to Rome, also known as, "The Eternal City." Upon arrival at Rome airport, collect your luggage in the baggage claim area, and continue to the arrival's hall, where you will be greeted by a tour escort and/or driver. You will make your way to the bus and transfer via scenic route to San Giovanni Rotondo, the home town of Saint Padre Pio. Passing through the Roman countryside that is known for its villas and vineyards. During the bus ride, your tour escort will share interesting information regarding the spiritual, historical, and cultural aspects of Italy. Will stop by Monte Cassino, the principle monastery of the Benedictine Order founded by Saint Benedict around 530 A.D. Following visit we board the bus to San Giovanni Rotondo. Upon arrival, check-in into your Hotel. Tonight you will enjoy delicious Italian dinner followed by a candlelight procession (optional).
*Candlelight Procession - Between May and October attend the weekly Candlelight Procession at the Sanctuary of St. Pio after dinner, at 9:00 PM. These processions are lit by candlelight, and are guided by the Most Holy Rosary. Following this prayerful experience, you will return to your hotel for a restful overnight.
Sun, Jun 09: San Giovanni Rotondo (View Incorrupt Body of St. Padre Pio) - Monte Sant' Angel
This morning, after breakfast we will visit the Old Church. After Mass we will tour the sanctuary, it is here you will view the crucifix, in front of which St. Pio received the stigmata. Visit the confessional from where St. Pio spent an innumerable amount of hours listening to confessions. Next, we will board the bus and travel along the beautiful Gargano Peninsula to the Grotto of St. Michael the Archangel, a shrine consecrated by St. Michael. At this grotto, St. Michael appeared to a Bishop to assure him that his diocese would not be annihilated as he feared. Following the visit to the grotto, enjoy free time. On the way back to San Giovanni Rotondo view breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding countryside. Upon arrival you will have time for devotion and reflection. Dinner and overnight.
Mon, Jun 10: San Giovanni Rotondo – Rome Airport – USA
Very early this morning we drive to Rome Airport for your return flights home.