Sample Holy Land Pilgrimage
Early in the 4th Century, C.E., the Saint Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine traveled from Western Europe to the Holy Land. She must have been a strong and resilient woman to make such a long journey in those times. Legend has it that she was in search of the concrete realities that underpinned this new Christian faith. If Christ was indeed crucified, and raised from the dead, then this must have happened not in books and stories, but in a certain place.
Helena went to find the place, to see and pray where it all happened. Her journey changed her life, that of her son, and the entire world. Since that time millions of Christians have followed where Helena led.
You are invited to join us on pilgrimages that visit the same places as those to which Helena journeyed some 1600 years ago. Thanks to Helena, and to many who came after her, there are impressive and moving churches, sites and shrines in which countless Christians of all traditions have prayed over many centuries, and a Lightline pilgrimage will take you to many of these important places. Typically, a Lightline pilgrimage will start with three nights by the Sea of Galilee, exploring the north of the country, before spending some nights in Bethlehem and in Jerusalem, as the life and ministry of Jesus is followed towards the inevitable destination of the Way of the Cross, and the Resurrection. You can see many such itineraries by clicking here…
However, our Holy Land pilgrimages do much more than simply pay attention to the ‘dead stones’ of Israel and Palestine. All of our pilgrimages involve visits to and encounters with those who live and work in this complex and challenging region today – most particularly the local Christian communities, including the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. So any Lightline pilgrimage will bring you into contact with the ‘Living Stones’, and help you share a small part of the daily lives, culture, faith and challenges that today’s Christians experience, and we are confident you will be moved by their witness, their courage and their faith.
We also offer our pilgrims contact with Jews and Muslims living and working in Palestine and Israel, as suits the needs of each particular pilgrimage itinerary and those leading such a trip, so that our groups may learn of other experiences and perspectives that impact on life in these lands today. These visits have included encounters with peace activists, hard-line settlers, journalists, religious leaders and politicians.
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We fly from our local airport to Tel Aviv, changing planes as necessary to complete our journey.
Our flight lands in the Tel Aviv in the morning and we hope to be on our way to the north of Israel soon after clearing customs and immigration formalities. We will break for lunch en-route. After a break for lunch we drive across the fertile Jezreel Valley and on up to the summit of Mount Tabor, believed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration. We finally make our way to the Pilgerhaus by the Sea of Galilee in good time relax before dinner. This will be our home for the next 3 nights.
Our day begins with a visit to the major coastal city of Haifa, where we have the chance to visit the local Episcopal parish of St John’s, Haifa, and see the remarkable work undertaken in its school, which has won many awards from the Israeli government for its ministry in education. After lunch, we come to Nazareth, the town in which the Good News of Jesus was first spoken by an angel to a young woman. We visit the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Synagogue Church, before stopping in Cana, to commemorate Jesus’ first sign, when he changed water to wine. We return home to our hotel for our evening meal. Overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Today will be devoted to a leisurely exploration of the area that was the base for Jesus’ ministry by the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. We will visit sites associated with the call of the first disciples, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the teaching of the Sermon Mount, and the village of Capernaum. We will also sail on a modern-day version of the kind of boat used for fishing at the time of Jesus and also see the remains of a similar boat which dates back to the early First Century. We will also visit the recently excavated first century synagogue at Magdala, the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, before returning to our hotel in good time to freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Leaving the beauty and tranquility of the Galilee, we will journey through the heart of the West Bank to the major Palestinian city of Nablus. We will see the work of St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, providing significant specialist medical care in the heart of the city, and visit Jacob’s Well, which was already a place of pilgrimage in the time of Jesus. After lunch we come to the Jordan River to renew our Baptismal Covenant, before arriving into the ‘little town’ of Bethlehem, situated behind the 27 foot high Separation Wall, where we will sleep for the next two nights.
This morning we begin with a visit to the Church of the Nativity the oldest intact church building in Christendom, before continuing to the Shepherds’ Fields in nearby Beit Sahour. The rest of the day will be devoted to visiting Christian institutions endeavouring to bring something of the abundant life promised in the gospel to those living under the restrictions of the Occupation. We hope to visit the St. Vincent Creche/Orphanage - the only facility of its kind in the West Bank, offering Christian love and compassion to over forty abandoned babies and small children. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight stay by Manger Square in Bethlehem.
This morning we check out of our hotel and drive to Jerusalem to attend the principal Sunday Eucharist at St George’s Episcopal Cathedral. Late morning we drive to the Haddasah hospital synagogue to view the famous Marc Chagall windows. In the afternoon we drive to Ein Karem, the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth and thus the site of the birth of John the Baptist and of the encounter between Elizabeth and Mary, when Magnificat was first sung. We then return to Jerusalem and check-in to our hotel situated within the Old Walled City in good time to unpack before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
After breakfast we journey south from Jerusalem to the ancient city of Hebron, the burial place of Abraham and the patriarchs, where we will also see the hideous complexity of occupation and division in clear focus in the centre of the city. After a break for lunch we return to Jerusalem and drive to the summit of the Mount of Olives for a breathtaking view of the Old city and its surrounding medieval walls. We then begin to trace Jesus’ Palm Sunday journey from Bethphage, down the mountain, stopping at two churches on the way, before reaching the Garden of Gethsemane, and the profoundly moving Church of the Agony. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
This morning we will meet members of Settler communities living in the main settlement blocks south of Jerusalem, to see the environment in which they live, and learn something about their outlook and understanding of the politics and sovereignty of the lands of this region. After lunch we return to Jerusalem and ascend Mount Zion to visit sites associated with the Last Supper, the Day of Pentecost and the falling asleep of Mary, before finishing our day at the church of St Peter in Gallicantu and recalling Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. Return to our hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
We will make an early start to visit the Western Wall and Temple Mount before coming to the start of the Via Dolorosa and walking the Way of the Cross through the crowded streets of the Old City towards the Church of the Holy Sepulchure. After a break for lunch we will have the choice a of a free afternoon to explore the Old City or the opportunity of visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum and Park. Return to our hotel in good time to freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
After breakfast we drive to the town of Abu Gosh, one of the possible sites of Emmaus to celebrate a final Eucharist together. We then return to Jerusalem for time to pack our bags. No lunch is included today. Late afternoon we leave Jerusalem and drive down to the Mediterranean city port of Jaffa, Biblical Joppa where we will have time to explore this town before dinner. After an early dinner we drive on to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport for our journey home.