Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
Historical Holy Land Pilgrimage
Spiritual Director: Fr. Michael C. Saharic, KCHS
Group Leader: Her Excellency, Vicki Downey, DGCHS
December 7 – 16(17), 2021
A Pilgrims reflection on the Holy Land
A Pilgrims reflection on the Holy Land:
By: Fr. Michael C. Saharic, KCHS
Growing up my sparents taught me and my siblings that we were Italian and Polish. One day, I thought, I will visit those countries. I remember visiting Italy and Poland for the first time. I will never forget looking out of the window of the plane and seeing the Italian countryside and the Polish countryside for the first time. And even though it has been far too many years ago, I remember exactly what my first thoughts were and how I felt. "O my God… This is where my family is from, here are my roots, I’m home." Over the years I’ve visited many countries across the world and I’ve never felt that feeling ever again until I travelled to the Holy Land in March of 2016.
Looking out across the landscape of the Holy Land, I remember a swell of excitement and thinking once again, "O my God… I’m home. This is where my Faith is from, here are my roots." So many people told me that this would be a journey of a lifetime, a pilgrimage that would change me, a pilgrimage to deepen and support my faith. But little did I know how those words would become true, little did I know the full importance that this pilgrimage would have in my life. Little did I expect that the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem would continue to call me back home.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is everything that you can hope for and even more. To say it is a trip of a lifetime, really does not even begin to capture what it is like to be in the land that is Holy… Made Holy by God Himself and blessed with His Divine Presence. It is here that our Lord walked, taught, and called His Apostles and disciples. With each step, with every sight, each Holy Place proclaims the Glory of God and reveals our Faith.
The Holy Land is rightly called the Fifth Gospel because it is where the Sacred Scriptures come alive. And so, I invite you to come with me and walk the paths the Lord walked, experience all that the Holy Land is and has to offer. Come see the place of the Annunciation, experience the tranquility of the Sea of Galilee, walk the Way of the Cross, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre touch Calvary and see with your own eyes that the Lord’s Tomb is empty, He is Risen from the dead. Yes, come and see the Holy Land but know you will never be the same ever again. Come and be filled with amazement and joy and your heart and soul will rejoice and you will cry out… "I’m home. This is where my Faith is from, here are my roots!"
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare from New York or
- All airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- Famous and Historical Five Star Hotels:
- ~ 3 nights | Dec 08 – 11: Magdala, Galilee
- ~ 5 nights | Dec 11 – 16: King David, Jerusalem
- Transfers as per itinerary
- Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner daily
- Wine and Mineral Water with all Lunches and Dinners
- Unlimited Bottles of Water on the Bus
- Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach
- Free Wi-Fi and bottles of Water on the Motor Coach
- Whisper Headsets while sightseeing throughout
- Assistance of a professional local Catholic guide throughout
- Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary
- Votive Masses daily & Spiritual activities
- Special Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre Traditions
- Ceremony in Cana: Wedding Vow Renewals
- Luggage handling (at Hotels – 1 piece per person)
- All Tips (Guide, Driver, Hotel Staff, Restaurants, and Luggage Handlers)
- Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
- Beverages and Snacks not mentioned, Individual transfers.
Day 1, Tuesday – December 7: Depart for the Holy Land
Make your way to your local airport where you will board your overnight flight. Your meals are served on board.
Day 2, Wednesday – December 8: Arrive in Tel Aviv - Sea of Galilee
Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, you will be met by your 206 Tours Representative and transfer to the Brand New - Magdala Center Hotel. You will have some free time to spend at your own leisure. In the evening, you will make your way for Mass, a “Welcome Drink Reception”, followed by dinner. Return to your room for a restful nights sleep.
Day 3, Thursday – December 9: Cana - Nazareth - Caesarea - Haifa - Sea of Galilee
Theme: The Annunciation
This morning, after breakfast, you will start the day by visiting Cana where you will go to the Franciscan Wedding Church. Couples will have the opportunity to participate in the ceremony of renewing their Wedding Vows, led by your Spiritual Director. Your next visit will be to Nazareth, where you will visit the Byzantine Church of St. Joseph, and Mary's Well. From there, you will walk the pilgrimage trail into the Church of the Annunciation to celebrate the Liturgy, and then a quick tour, including the Archeological Garden where you will see the 1st century remains of houses from the time of Christ. You will also visit the Museum where we see inscriptions left by pilgrims venerating the Virgin Mary, including the 2nd century A.D. inscription showing Xeria Maria 'Ave Maria', considered to be the oldest venerating signs of the Blessed Virgin. Following lunch, it is on to Caesarea, which was once the ancient capital of the Roman province. The tour will start by viewing the impressive archaeological remains of the Roman and Byzantine city that once dominated the region. It was at Caesarea that Peter came to understand that the “Good News” was not for Jews only, but for the whole world. Here, He baptized the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, and his family. It was from Caesarea that Paul set sail for Rome, an event that eventually brought Christianity to the World. Continue north to Haifa to visit Stella Maris, a Carmelite Monastery dedicated to Our Lady of Mt Carmel and located over the cave where Elijah lived. Return to the Sea of Galilee for wonderful dinner and overnight.
*Wedding Vows in Cana: Each couple will receive a "Special" Certificate to commemorate the ceremony.
Day 4, Friday – December 10: Tiberias: Banias - Sea of Galilee
Theme: The Ministry of Christ in the Galilee
After breakfast, we will begin the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. After this, we will view the remains of a boat that dates back to the time of Jesus, found buried in mud. We will then travel north to visit Caesarea Philippi, also known as Banias. It was here that Peter recognized Jesus as the Messiah and where Jesus told St. Peter, "You are the Rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church." Banias is also the source of the River Jordan. Continue to Capernaum, from where Jesus launched his Ministry; see the synagogue which dates to the time of Jesus and the Church built over the site of Peter's home. We will celebrate the Liturgy here, and then stop for lunch before we arrive at the Mt. of Beatitude, the scene of Jesus' great Sermon on the Mount. Nearby is Tabgha, where Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 and onto the site known as "Peter's Primacy". Here, after His resurrection, Jesus met with His disciples and told Peter to "feed my lambs; feed my sheep." [John 21:9]. Then we will see the Sower Cove, located midway between Tabgha and Capernaum, where Jesus was pushed out on a boat by the crowd and taught from the parable of sower. Our last visit will be the remains of the fishing village of Magdala (Aramaic for "elegant"). During the time of Jesus it was a thriving place that exported dried fish and garum (a fish sauce reduction popular in Roman cooking). Excavations done by the Franciscans in the 1970s revealed the residential area of the village and the docks where the fishing boats would unload the fish caught in the Sea of Galilee. In 2009 a chance discovery revealed a 1st Century synagogue at the entrance to the village from the West. It is also assumed that Mary Magdalene was born here. Then walk to the nearby “Valley of the Doves”, to see “the Jesus Trail”, and the ancient road that was walked by our Lord. End the day at Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Day 5, Saturday, December 11: Mt. Tabor – Jericho – Jordan River - Jerusalem
Theme: The Transfiguration
Today, after breakfast, we drive to Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration, with time to reflect on Christ’s Humanity and Divinity. Celebrating Mass here will be a good preparation for the journey to Jerusalem where Jesus was to suffer the crucifixion and resurrection. Drive down the Jordan Valley to Jericho, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, where we view the Mt. of Temptation, and an example of a Sycamore Tree. Visit the Baptismal site on the Jordan River, and have the opportunity to renew your own baptism (pending weather conditions). We will continue on our way to Jerusalem, where you will check-in to the historically famous King David Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 6, Sunday – December 12: Jerusalem: Our Lady of Palestine - Temple Model - Ein Karem - Shepherd’s Fields
Today we will begin by travel along the Valley of Elah, where the famous encounter between David and Goliath has taken place, finally reaching Deir Rafat Monastery. This Monastery is dedicated to Our Lady of Palestine, Patroness of the Order. The Latin Patriarchate, Luigi Barlassina, established this Monastery in 1927. The facade in the Convent Church bears the Latin inscription "Reginae Palaestinae", meaning "to the Queen of Palestine". It carries a six (6) meter statue of the Virgin Mary. The Church ceiling is decorated with a painting showing angels carrying banners with the first words of the "Hail Mary" prayer in 280 languages. We will celebrate Mass here, before continuing on to the Israel Museum which houses the temple to which Jesus was Presented (Luke 2:22). Your group will visit a model of the Second Temple, as it was in the time of Jesus, as well as viewing the Shrine of the Book (where the Dead Sea Scrolls are on display). After lunch we will make a short drive taking us to the village of Ein Karem, the birthplace of John the Baptist, to visit the Church. This will be followed by a stop to the Shepherds Fields in Bethlehem. The caves have soot marks of the fires that shepherd's lit to keep warm while watching over their flocks. Return drive back to your Five Star Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 7, Monday – December 13: Jerusalem: Holy Child Program – Church of the Nativity - Theme: The Visitation & Nativity
Theme: The Visitation & Nativity
We will start the day with an early breakfast, and then make our way to Bethlehem and visit the Holy Child Program – a school for children that the Order has directly funded. After meeting with the Franciscan Sisters who run the school, we will take a tour, followed by a meeting with the students. From there, we will depart to the Manger Square, which stands in front of one of the oldest Christian Churches, the Church of the Nativity. Enter the Church and make your way down to the Grotto of the Nativity which marks the spot of Jesus' birth. Just 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.) We will celebrated the Liturgy in the Church of the Nativity, and then return to our Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 8, Tuesday – December 14: Jerusalem: Bethany - Mt. of Olives - Mt. Zion
Audience with the Latin Patriarchate - Pilgrim Shell Ceremony-Solemn Entry
Theme: Palm Sunday the Agony in the Garden, and the Last Supper
We will start the day with visit to Bethany, where Lazarus was raised from the dead. Drive to the Mount of Olives, where we will take in the panoramic view of Jerusalem. Then to the Pater Noster Shrine, where Jesus taught His disciples the Pater Noster - The Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:1-4). Walking down the Palm Sunday Road, we will stop at the beautiful little Church, Dominus Flevit - "The Lord wept." It was here that Jesus wept over Jerusalem [Luke 19:41]. Then make our way to Gethsemane to reflect on Jesus' final night (Luke 22: 29 - 53). The Garden contains trees, the roots of which go back to the time of Jesus. Visit the Church of All Nations and 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. Celebrate Mass here, and then we will then visit the Church of the Assumption, and then make our way to Mt. Zion, overlooking the Kidron Valley. From Gethsemane, Jesus was taken as a prisoner to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas where He was interrogated and imprisoned. Now called ST. Peter in Galicantu ("Crowing Rooster"), this beautiful Church also commemorates Peter's denial of Chris (Luke 22: 33 - 34), his repentance and then being forgiven by Jesus. The steps leading down to this Church was also a project funded by the Equestrian Order. We will make a stop for lunch and then continue on to Mt. Zion, the Upper Room (Matthew 26: 17 - 30) where we commemorate the Last Supper. Nearby is King David's Tomb, and the Benedictine Church of the Dormition. Return to the King David Hotel to dress in our Vestments. We proceed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for Solemn Entry, followed by making our way to the Office of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, where all Knights and Dames will receive the Pilgrim Shell from the Latin Patriarchate, Pierbattista Pizzaballa. Return to our Hotel to change, and then make our way to Notre Dame for a Rooftop Dinner, then return to the Hotel for overnight. for dinner and overnight.
Day 9, Wednesday - December 15: Jerusalem: Via Dolorosa - Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Temple Mount - St Anne’s Church - Final “Full” Day in Jerusalem
Theme: The Crucifixion
Today will be an early morning, as we will depart the Hotel at 5:30 A.M. and make our way to begin the Via Dolorosa (The Way of the Cross) at the Antonia Fortress. This is the spot where Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate (John 18:28-19:16). Following His condemnation, He was taken (on the Road to Calvary) to His place of Crucifixion. Your group will reflect upon the Stations of the Cross as you travel through the markets of the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Luke 23: 26-33). This Sacred destination is the site of Calvary (Jesus' crucifixion place) and, His tomb (Luke 23: 50-55). Your group will be celebrating Mass here at the Tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Return to your Hotel for breakfast and a little free time. Then continue to the Western Wall, the Holiest site to Jews. After, we make our way over to Temple Mount, also known as the Dome of the Rock, or Haram al Sharif. Then conclude with a visit to the Church of St. Anne's, the home of Jesus' maternal grandparents (Anne and Joachim). Nearby, we enter the Old City to see the Pool of Bethesda (John 5: 1 - 9), which supplied the water for the Temple, and where Jesus healed the crippled man. You will have the remainder of the day free to spend at your own leisure. Return to your Hotel where you will have some time to stop at your room and freshen up. Then make our way over to the Notre Dame Hotel (a Vatican owned property where the Holy Father resides during his visits), and make our way to the famous rooftop restaurant, Cheese and Wine, that overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem. It is there you will enjoy a "Special" Dinner Reception before returning to your Hotel for a restful nights sleep.
Day 10, Thursday – December 16: Free Day – Return Home
Today, is a 12:00 (Noon) Check-Out at the Hotel. You may leave your luggage outside your room where the Porters will then bring it down and store it in the Luggage Room. Depending on the time of your return flight home, you will either depart or have some free time in the Old City during the morning and early afternoon until you will board your transfer and make your way towards Tel Aviv. With heartfelt farewells to your fellow pilgrims, you will arrive at Tel Aviv Airport for our return flights home.
Day 11, Friday - December 17: Arrive Home
*206 Tours Disclaimer:
Though every effort will be made to follow the itinerary, it should be considered as an indication, rather than a contract of places to be visited. Occasionally local religious holidays, national days, weather, traffic conditions and other events may necessitate changes in the sequence of visits or the missing of certain visits.
The benefit of buying airfare with 206 Tours?
- Your transfers are always secured, even if your flights are delayed - round trip transfers to/from the hotel and airport are included no matter what!
- If you purchase your airline ticket on your own, you have to pay in full at the time of booking, and most of the time it is non-refundable. If you book with 206 Tours, full payment is due 60 days prior.
- In the very rare event that a tour is cancelled, you would get all your money back, which would most likely not be the case if you purchased it directly from the airline.
- Your flight arrangement will be followed up on and reconfirmed by 206 Tours.
- 206 Tours can arrange for you to travel before the tour, make a stop-over, or stay later!
About your trip
About The Holy Land - In the footsteps of Jesus:
If you desire to draw closer to Jesus of Nazareth, come, as we follow in His footsteps. Each day of your pilgrimage you will have time to renew and affirm your faith; to pray and reflect. The Scriptures will come alive as you visit Our Lord's homeland. You will be inspired by the natural beauty of the landscape, in addition to its rich historical heritage It is an encounter that has changed the lives of many pilgrims, an act of faith and prayer. Pilgrims have been traveling to the Holy Land for hundreds of years, and as part of your pilgrimage, we include many of the rich traditions that have evolved over time. The maxim at the entrance to the Church of the Nativity says: "We are hoping that: If you enter here as a tourist, you would exit as a pilgrim. If you enter here as a pilgrim, you would exit as a holier one." We pray that same will occur when you join 206 Tours pilgrimage.