Following on from an extensive study of the Life and Ministry of Jesus, St. Catherine's are now planning a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March 2020 from Tuesday 10th to Tuesday 17th to actually see and experience the places, sights and sounds we have been learning about. The tour is designed with the minimum of walking involved and so is more suitable for those who are, shall we say, less mobile although of course anyone is very welcome to join us. For more details ring Andrew on 01269 826101. If you would like to look at the brochure which can be downloaded please click the first link below or if you would rather look at the Flip-book click the second. Alternatively if you would like a hard copy of the brochure, please give me a ring or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.maranatha.co.uk/HolyLand2020-AndrewSteven/e-brochure.pdf
We fly from London Heathrow on El Al flight no. LY316 to Ben Gurion Airport Tel Aviv where we will be met by our tour guide. Then on by private coach to the hotel situated directly beside the Sea of Galilee www.ronbeachhotel.com
DAY 2/WEDNESDAY 11th We start our pilgrimage on the Sea of Galilee with a trip across the lake on a "Jesus boat". Half way across the engine is stopped and there is a complete silence, time to gather our thoughts and feelings and reflect on where we are. Perhaps it is not too difficult to imagine seeing Jesus and his disciples striding across the nearby hillside.
We land at Ginosar to see a first century fishing boat discovered in the mud by two brothers in 1986 when the water level in the lake dropped to its lowest level for many years. The boat had a crew of 5 when out fishing and could carry another 15 passengers if need be.
On the left we see a model of the boat while on the right is a photo of the preserved original.(Photos kindly supplied by HolyLandPhotos.org)
Next we ascend the summit of the Mount of Beatitudes the traditional site where Jesus uttered his immortal words which give us the most wonderful principles of the blessed life. The photograph shows the entrance to the church built in 1937 by the Fransiscans which stands high on the hillside above the Sea of Galilee commanding extensive views of the lake and surrounding countryside. The garden has the most amazing array of shrubs and flowers and the fields below grow crops of vegetables each row individually irrigated.
Next back down to Tabgha on the seashore where two miracles are commemorated by the building of two churches. The first was the miracle of the five loaves and two fish with which Jesus was able to feed 5,000 people. (Matthew 14: 16-21) The second was when Jesus made breakfast for his disciples in his post-resurrection appearance reinstating Peter and telling him to "feed my sheep" (John 21: 16).
The exterior of the Church of the Multiplication of the loaves and the Fishes, Tabgha.
Fishermen in front of the Church of St. Peter's Primacy, Tabgha
The top picture is the statue of Jesus and Peter by the lake shore. The bottom photo is preparing to cast the net.
The top picture is a photo of St. Peter's steps which the fishermen frequently used; the bottom one "We caught nothing!" (John 21 v3)
Our final visit is to Capernaum, the town which Jesus made his headquarters having been rejected at Nazareth.. Here we can see the ruins of the synagogue which was built on top of the one which he would have known. Our photos show top left the wonderful blossom everywhere; top right an example of the way they built on extra rooms to their houses (insulas); bottom left and right, olive crushers.
We start our tour today in the village of Cana. It was here that Jesus performed his first miracle turning water into wine at a marriage feast.
A water jar on display outside the church
Then on to the town of Nazareth where we visit the Church of the Annunciation built over the original village of gospel days. The dome is 180 feet high and built in the form of an inverted lily.
The town of Nazareth is dominated by the Basilica of the Annunciation which was consecrated in 1968, the modern church covering the excavated ruins of previous churches. Tradition has it that Mary lived in one of the many cave dwellings in Nazareth, similar to the one pictured above, with Joseph having his workshop close by but there is a small cave below the Church of St. Anne (Mary's mother) in Jerusalem which is also described as her place of birth and where she spent her early life.
On our way to the Mount of Transfiguration (Mount Tabor) we stop on the top of Mount Precipitation where an angry crowd from the Nazareth synagogue tried to throw Jesus off the cliff to his death. (See Luke 4 v15) There are also impressive views of the Jezreel Valley where it is said that the final Battle of Armageddon will take place.
The Mount of Precipitation
The fertile Jezreel Valley
Our next visit is to Mount Tabor which rises abruptly 1,600 feet above the surrounding plain and is where the Transfiguration of Jesus is said to have taken place. In 1924 the Franciscans built a church here which incorporates the ruins of previous churches. From the summit there is a splendid view of almost the entire region. Shown below is a view of Mount Tabor and the interior and exterior of the church.
We conclude our time in Galilee with a service of Thanksgiving on the banks of the River Jordan when we will also have the opportunity to renew our baptismal vows.
DAY 4 GALILEE TO JERUSALEM
Our first stop is in Jericho 850 feet below sea level and the lowest and oldest city in the world. It is well known for the richness of its well watered soil growing an abundance of oranges, bananas and grapes It was here that Zaccheus climbed a sycamore tree so that he could see Jesus passing by as he was on his way to Jerusalem. It was here that tradition has it that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert and tempted by the devil after his baptism by John in the Jordan river. Not mentioned in the brochure is our ride in the cable car to the top of the Mount of Temptation where we will get a magnificent view of the barren landscape. Pictures below are 1) The mount of Temptation rising up behind Jericho 2) The cable car 3) Shame there's no time for a camel ride!
Next we climb the 15 miles and 4,000 feet up the Wadi Kelt to Jerusalem stopping to view the old Jericho - Jerusalem road on which Jesus based his Good Samaritan parable. Notice the solitary figure on the path.
On arrival in Jerusalem we will have a chance to have a panoramic view over the city before going on to the shepherds' fields just outside Bethlehem and then visiting Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity.
Panoramic view over the city of Jerusalem
Shepherds' Fields, Bethlehem
The stone manger, The low entrance to the Basilica The silver star to record Shepherds' Fields prohibiting entry on horseback where the manger stood
Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem www.jerusalemritz.com
DAY 5 Around the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
We start the day in the village of Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus and then visit Bethphage where Jesus started his ride into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey at the beginning of Holy Week.
View of Bethany
Church of Lazarus, Bethany
Church in Bethphage
From the top of the Mount of Olives we walk down the hillside following the path which Jesus would have taken on his way into Jerusalem, stopping at the Chapel of Dominus Flevit (where Jesus wept over the city) built in the form of a tear drop. (Luke 19 37-42). The altar is framed by a glass window facing the Temple Mount which is now dominated by the Dome of the Rock.
At the foot of the Mount of Olives is the Garden of Gethsemane which we visit next. It appears today very much as it was 20 centuries ago with its eight olive trees which some botanists claim may be at least 3,000 years old. If this is so they will have witnessed Jesus' agony and arrest; if not they are without doubt the shoots of those trees under which he prayed on that fateful night.
Also in the Garden is the Church of All Nations which took the five years from 1919 - 1924 to complete. Sixteen nations contributed to its construction. A part of the traditional rock of the agony lies in front of the main altar and the dim light filtering through the purple window glass gives a special atmosphere for prayer and meditation.
We end Day 5 in the tranquility of the Garden Tomb, a haven of peace and quiet in the heart of the bustling city. It was discovered in 1883 by the British General Gordon who looked across at the site from the house where he was staying and noticed a skull like structure in the rock formation of the hillside. Further investigation revealed a garden, wine press and cistern and the tomb itself with its deep channel claimed to be the groove where the stone was rolled to seal the entrance. The tomb itself is carved out of the rock while the burial chamber is located on the right, just as described in the bible. Sufficient money was raised to buy the site and it is now administered by the Garden Tomb Association of London. Many people believe that this was the site of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus but unfortunately there is insufficient archaeological evidence to support this theory.
The image of the skull in the hillside
The Garden Tomb
The door of the tomb Part of the restful garden The Arab bus station next to Skull Hill.
DAY 6 The morning of Sunday 15th March. We enter the Old City and follow the Via Dolorosa (the Way of the Cross) through the markets and bazaars to the Holy Sepulchre which most scholars believe was the true location of Calvary and the Tomb of Jesus. But what a contrast to yesterday's visit to the Garden Tomb! We then move to the southern wall of the temple mount to the Ophel where we see the ancient pilgrim steps which Jesus must have walked up to gain access to the temple, where Peter most likely would have addressed the crowds on the Day of Pentecost and the Mikveh baths where those who responded to his message would have been baptised.
One of the access points to the Via Dolorosa is the Lions Gate also known as St. Stephen's Gate.
The domes of Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre
The entrance to the Holy sepulchre
The Stone of Unction where the body of Jesus was anointed
The stones from the second temple thrown down by the Romans in AD 70.
The Western, or Wailing Wall of the temple built by King Herod in 20 BC
The afternoon is free which will give people the opportunity to browse the bazaars, visit places of personal interest or just relax at the hotel. In the evening there are services at the Cathedral or Christchurch just inside the Jaffa Gate.
DAY 7 Monday 16th March This will be our last full day in the Holy Land and we will spend it at the lowest point on earth around the area of the Dead Sea . First to Ein Gedi to see the area where David hid from King Saul. A short walk brings us to one of the waterfalls in this oasis where we might be able to see some of the ibex who live in this Nature Reserve. Then on to Qumran to see the caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were found in 1946 by a Bedouin shepherd boy looking for lost sheep. Finally we spend some time on the shores of the Dead Sea with the opportunity for those brave enough to smother themselves in mud or bathe in the medicinal waters. Fortunately there are fresh water showers on the beach to wash the salt/mud off! Finally back to the hotel.
The desert above Ein Gedi
One of the waterfalls
Reading a book in/on the Dead Sea
DAY 8 Tuesday 17th March On our way to Ben Gurion Airport, we will visit the ruins Herod's massive sea port and palace at Caesarea Maritima named in honour of Caesar Augustus around 30 BC. It later became a Roman city and a stone, now in the Israel Museum, was discovered here in 1961 with Pontius Pilate's name inscribed on it. Paul was imprisoned here (Acts 23 v35) before being sent to Rome around 65 AD.
The recently rebuilt Roman amphitheatre in Caesarea seating 4000 spectators.
The ruins of Herod's palace and swimming pool still with pieces of pillar lying around .
The aquaduct which brought fresh water 10 miles for the palace and the fresh water swimming pool built out into the Mediterranean Sea.
Then back to Ben Gurion Airport at Tel Aviv for our late afternoon flight back to the UK.
Reverend Adrian Teale, The Vicarage, 10 Bryn Road, Upper Brynamman, Ammanford, Carms. SA18 1AU (01269) 822275