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 meet at Las Vegas Airport in the morning for our flight to JFK, where we change planes for our evening flight on to London. Dinner will be served on board the flight to England.
We land in London in the early morning, and change planes for Tel Aviv, where we land in the afternoon. Once we have cleared Customs and immigration formalities, we will make our way north to the Galilee to our pilgrim guest house on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, which will be our home for the next three nights.
After breakfast we drive the short distance to Nazareth, the town in which the Good News was revealed to the Virgin Mary by the angel Gabriel. We will start the day by attending the Sunday Eucharist at the Episcopal parish in the heart of downtown Nazareth, after which we will visit the Basilica of the Annunciation. After a stop for lunch, After breakfast we drive the short distance to Nazareth, the town in which the Good News was revealed to the Virgin Mary by the angel Gabriel. We will start the day by attending the Sunday Eucharist at the Episcopal parish in the heart of downtown Nazareth, after which we will visit the Basilica of the Annunciation. After a stop for lunch, we will visit the site of Jesus’ first sign, where he turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, before finishing the day atop Mount Tabor, where it is believed the Transfiguration took place.
Today we will devote ourselves to the events of Jesus’ ministry of healing and teaching around the home he chose in Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee. We will visit Capernaum itself, as well as sites associated with the Beatitudes, the commissioning of Peter, and the feeding of the Five Thousand. We will go out in a boat on the lake, and we will visit the newly-excavated First Century synagogue in Magdala, the home town of ‘the apostle to the apostles’, Mary Magdalene.
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.
Today will be devoted to discovering how the gift of abundant life promised in the Incarnation is lived out in Bethlehem. We will visit the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherds’ Fields, as well as two heart-warming examples of Christian mission in action. At the St Vincent Crèche we will see love in action at the only Christian orphanage in the West Bank, and at Bethlehem University we will see hope in action in the nurture and training of many capable and committed local students.
Leaving Bethlehem, we make our way to Bethany, once a simple and poor village where Jesus often stayed with his close friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. From here we will make the circuitous journey to the Mount of Olives, seeing again the impact of the Separation Wall. We will retrace the traditional Palm Sunday route from Bethphage down to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Kidron Valley, stopping at the churches of Pater Noster and Dominus Flevit as we descend the Mount. After a break for lunch we will visit the Israel Museum, to see a vast scale model of Jerusalem as it was at the time of Jesus, and to learn about the Dead Sea Scrolls in the world-famous exhibit known as the Shrine of the Book.
Our day begins on Mount Zion, where we will visit the Abbey of the Dormition, and the Cenacle, built over what many believe to have been the site of the Last Supper. From there we walk the short distance to the church of St Peter in Gallicantu, where we will remember Jesus being held captive and interrogated by the High Priest, while Peter stood outside and denied three times that he knew Jesus. After lunch we will descend to the Jordan Valley to visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, before having a chance to float in the unique waters of the Sea itself.
Our pilgrimage comes to its climax this morning, as we walk the Way of the Cross, which winds through the labyrinth of alleys and streets of the Old City towards the Church of the Holy Sepulchure. After a break for lunch, we drive out of Jerusalem to visit the Crusader church at Abu Ghosh, one of the sites believed to be biblical Emmaus, where we can celebrate the joy of the resurrection, before returning to Jerusalem renewed and refreshed like the disciples in Luke’s great story.
We make an early start this morning in the hope of being allowed to ascend the Temple Mount, to get a close look at the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. Later in the morning we will go to the Episcopal Cathedral of St George to join in the celebration of the Eucharist with local Christians and other pilgrims. After lunch we will visit the Hadassah Hospital synagogue, with contains exquisite stained glass windows by Marc Chagall depicting the twelve sons of Jacob, before ending our day in the village of Ein Karem. Believed to have been the home of the parents of John the Baptist, our pilgrimage will end with us being able to sing ‘Magnficat’ in the place where Mary first gave voice to this wonderful hymn of praise. We return to Jerusalem in good time to freshen up for our final dinner together.
We make an early start for Tel Aviv airport for our journey home, flying via London to Las Vegas. Although it will be a long day of travel, we can rest and sleep on the planes, and look forward to our return home, to share with those around us all we have learned in the Land of the Holy One.