The Holy Land: A Pilgrimage of Faith, Hope, and Love
February 19 – March 3, 2023
The St. Josemaria Institute is delighted to partner with the CRETIO Foundation to offer a unique pilgrimage and journey based on their extensive scholarly experience guiding pilgrims from around the world in the Holy Land.
Our group will enjoy 12 nights in Israel and Palestine with visits to the most relevant holy sites, including the Holy Sepulcher, the Cenacle, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee. The daily schedule includes Holy Mass, Holy Rosary, brief meditations or spiritual readings, and ample time for silent/personal prayer or confession.
We will be staying in four-star hotels and guesthouses located near the major sites to allow time for exploration on your own during free time. All meals are included as indicated in the itinerary to maximize our time and enjoy a variety of menus at the hotel, on the go, and at local restaurants.
Our pilgrimage will be directed by Dr. Joseángel Domínguez, Biblical scholar and co-author of “Bible Portico”, along with other local guides and scholars. A priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei will be accompanying us throughout the journey.
Along the way, in a spirit of friendship and service, we also have the opportunity to meet local young professionals and entrepreneurs who will share their experience of living in the Holy Land today.
Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel
Saxum Visitor Center
Located 8 miles from Jerusalem on the Road to Emmaus and founded in honor of St. Josemaria’s successor, Bl. Alvaro del Portillo, the Saxum Visitor Center is a unique place to start a pilgrimage. It offers an overview of the Holy Land through a multimedia experience including hi-tech, multi-sensory resources and instructional presentations on both the Holy Sites and the life of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Pilgrims will have the opportunity to walk the last segment of the Road to Emmaus. Following the steps of Jesus, pilgrims will be guided through the last 1.5 miles of the historical road that connects Jerusalem with the Ancient City of Emmaus. There, we will see the ancient Byzantine mosaics and visit the site of the Breaking of the Bread.
The place of the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin St. Elizabeth is located in the Judean Hills, not far from Jerusalem. The Church built there is entrusted to the Custodia Terrae Sanctae of the Franciscans. Two major holy sites are found in Ein Karem: the House of Zachary and Elizabeth and the rock were John the Baptist was hidden as a child to escape the Massacre of the Innocents.
Our visit to the City of David, Household of David, and Birthplace of Our Lord is one of the absolute highlights of the pilgrimage. The core of the visit is the Church of the Nativity. Built in the 4th century, it is one of the oldest churches in the world. The grotto under its sanctuary has the spot, marked by a star, where Jesus was born. We then continue on to Shepherds Field and the Milk Grotto. If possible, we will also visit Holy Family Hospital: a historical and vital institution run by Catholic Nuns in the center of Bethlehem. Our day concludes with a traditional Arabic dinner in one of the beautiful valleys surrounding the city.
Mount of Olives
Jerusalem is the next highlight of the trip. Our day begins on the Mount of Olives, where several Holy Sites are located: the Church of Pater Noster (Our Father), the Church of Dominus Flevit (where Jesus cried over Jerusalem), the Garden of Olives in Gethsemane, the Kidron Valley, and the Tomb of Our Lady (following the Armenian tradition). The pilgrimage continues on to the Church of St. Anne (birthplace of Our Lady and site of the Probatic Pool) until reaching the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross).
We begin the Via Dolorosa at the remains of the Antonia Fortress where Jesus was condemned to death. The Way of the Cross follows the 14 stations from the chapel of the Flagellation to Calvary. In the midst of a modern Arab market, pilgrims contemplate each unique station: Veronica wiping his face, Simon helping to carry the cross, Jesus falling 3 times and Jesus meeting his Mother.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The last 5 stations are located in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. First constructed by St. Helena under the orders of her son Constantine the Great, the Church marks the exact places where Our Lord was crucified and buried. The church includes within its walls the Altar of Calvary and the Tomb of Jesus under the Edicule. Around these places, other meaningful chapels can be visited: the Chapel of St. Helena (where Jesus’ Cross was found), the Chapel of Adam (below Calvary), and the Chapel of Mary Magdalene.
The south-east side of Jerusalem sprawls over Mount Zion. In Jesus’ time, it was the location of the Upper City. The houses of senators and influential Jews were located there. In that area, pilgrims will visit the place of the Cenacle (site of the Last Supper and Pentecost), the House of the High Priest (Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu), and the Church of the Dormition of Our Lady. The visit to the Armenian Quarter, including dinner, helps better understand today’s Jerusalem.
The Kotel & Jerusalem Tunnels | The City of David
In the heart of Jerusalem, the Jewish Temple was the holiest place of Judaism. That place was destroyed by the Romans and forgotten for centuries. Under the Islamic rule, the Dome of the Rock was built where the Jewish Temple used to be. Today the esplanade of the Temple is vast and incorporates some of the original walls. Specifically, the Western Wall of the esplanade of the Temple Mount is the last remnant of the massive structure from Herod’s time and the holiest site for Judaism.
Under the city of Jerusalem, we find a network of tunnels built in both ancient and modern times. The oldest of all is the Tunnel of Hezekiah (8th century BC). It is possible to walk most of it and discover the oldest part of Jerusalem in the City of David, including the more modern tunnel of the Kotel which allows pilgrims to see the streets from Jesus’ time.
Dead Sea, Masada, and Ein Gedi
From Jerusalem to the east and all the way to the Jordanian border, the Judaean Desert extends its powerful and timeless rocks. Pilgrims can visit the deepest place on earth: the Dead Sea (located 1,400 feet under sea level). The salt makes the water so dense that floating over the water is effortless, and animals can’t survive under the water. The mud and the salts have many health benefits. An oasis can be found in the middle of the dessert: Ein Gedi, a natural reserve and resting place for centuries. Close by, the Fortress of Masada remembers the last standing Jewish soldiers that faced the Roman troops in the Revolts over 1,800 years ago. The fortress, built and decorated by Herod the Great, is still standing and can be visited.
The Holy Land is a place of contrasts. The modern city of Tel Aviv is a growing metropolis not far from Jerusalem by the Mediterranean Sea. It’s booming with commerce and business, and boasts an international atmosphere. But at its core, it holds the old city of Jaffa (Biblical Joppa), where pilgrims can visit the Church of St. Peter.
Sebastia & Nablus
Situated in Samaria, the city of Sebastia was the heart of the region for a long time. Archeology has brought to light impressive discoveries from the Roman period. The city of Nablus is nearby where pilgrims can visit the well of Jacob at Sichem.
Besides the modern collections, the Israel Museum presents two magnificent exhibits: the Shrine of the Book (where the oldest remains of the Bible are kept) and the First Century Model of Jerusalem. This vast model represents the Holy City as it was in the time of Our Lord on a scale that helps better understand the last days of the life of Jesus.
The city of Jericho is the oldest inhabited city in the entire world. It was the witness of the entry of the People of God led by Joshua into the Holy Land. It was also witness to the miracles and preaching of Our Lord. Near the city of Jericho, pilgrims experience the imposing desert landscape where we see the Mount of Temptations—the holy site of Jesus’ forty days of fasting and prayer before beginning his public life and where Jesus was tempted by the Devil.
A few miles East of the Holy City of Jerusalem, at the bottom of the valley, there is an exceptional location: Qasr Al-Yehud is its modern name. It’s on this shore of the Jordan River where John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing when Jesus came to be baptized too. In that same site, the Father’s voice was heard just when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord in the form of a dove. The exact location of the Baptism is said to be on the Jordanian side of the river. Still, pilgrims will be able to touch the water of the Jordan River and renew their baptismal vows.
The next highlight of the trip is the city of Nazareth. North of Jerusalem, in the heart of the Galilee region, Nazareth was a small village in the time of Jesus. Archeology done in recent times uncovered remains of houses from that time, which can be seen today. Pilgrims will be able to pray at the Church of the Annunciation, where the excavated section of Mary’s home can still be visited. Other unique locations are identifiable in the area, including: the Old Synagogue of Nazareth, the well of Mary, the mount of the precipice, and the house and workshop of St. Joseph.
As predicted by Jesus, the city of Capernaum, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, is wholly destroyed to its foundations. Some remains can be visited, though, as archeologists have uncovered Holy Sites of great value in that town. These discoveries show its commercial and economic relevance: the House of Peter (and his mother-in-law) and the Synagogue of Capernaum, among others. It is also a fantastic site to experience the peace and calm of the site that has changed the least in 2000 years: the Sea of Galilee.
Near Capernaum, in the area called Tabgha, there are two more holy sites: the Church of the Primacy of Peter and the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish. These sites are back-to-back which allows pilgrims to spend more time in their visits. When Blessed Alvaro del Portillo went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1994, he stayed at the shore and prayed for a long time. Pilgrims will also have the opportunity to embark on a boat and sail the Sea of Galilee having a unique time for prayer and contemplation.
Also near Capernaum, and with the Sea of Galilee as a breathtaking background, the Church of the Beatitudes commemorates the preaching of Our Lord on the mount. Pilgrims can find a time of prayer and solace walking around the Holy Site or entering the octagonal church symbolizing the 8 Beatitudes preached by Jesus.
The City of Cana, St. Bartholomew / Nathanael’s hometown, is also where, according to the Gospel of John, Our Lord performed his first miracle among his disciples. The Church of the Wedding is a traditional place where many couples renew their wedding vows. It is also a Holy Site of unique value for all who seek to find Our Lord in their ordinary life.
Mount Tabor was the witness of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. The Holy Site is surrounded by a unique atmosphere, and the hilltop hosts the Church of the Transfiguration. Its belvederes allow pilgrims to see far away into the land that produces milk and honey.
Haifa, Mount Carmel, Elijah’s Cave
The city of Haifa is located on the western side of Galilee by the Mediterranean Sea. It is an innovative and modern city filled with researchers and startups, history and culture. The city grows around Mount Carmel, where the Shrine of Our Lady, Stella Maris can be visited. There, the Cave of Elijah, the prophet, is still a place of prayer for Christians and Jews.
On the other side of the gulf of Haifa, the city of St. Jean D’Acre (Akko) lays as a witness to the Kingdom of the Crusaders. The market of the old town and beautiful small mosques are dressed in the light of the Middle East sunshine reflected in the Mediterranean Sea.
Caesarea by the Sea
Going south from Akko, and on route to Ben Gurion International Airport, pilgrims can visit the impressive remains of the Roman City of Caesarea Maritima (Caesarea by the Sea), with its amazing amphitheater, the old house light and palaces, and the hippodrome by the sea.
Depart from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel
While every effort will be made to adhere to the itinerary, it is subject to change if circumstances arise that are out of our control.
The pilgrimage will be led in English and is open to adults (men and women, age 18+) from the United States and abroad; space is limited. All participants are required to fulfill all of the mandatory travel requirements. The ability to handle plenty of walking (sometimes on rough roads) and to adapt to schedule changes and local conditions are also required.
The cost of the pilgrimage is $5,700 per person (land-only). The price is based on double occupancy (two people in one room). Limited single and triple occupancy options are available for an additional cost upon request.
At this time, the pilgrimage is completely full.
Register below to join our waiting list or to be notified of future dates:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- All meals [B,L,D] 11 days, plus water and snacks*
- Tips for driver and guides
- Deluxe air-conditioned motor coach
- Licensed English-speaking guides
- Listening earpiece devices
- Additional local experts
- Entry fees to sites and museums
- Boat ride on Sea of Galilee
*Allergies and dietary requirements must be provided in writing for each pilgrim prior to February 15.
- Airport transfers
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic beverages (at meals)
- Personal donations, gifts, and souvenirs
*The St. Josemaria Institute is pleased to offer assistance with booking air travel from the USA to/from Israel. For assistance, contact us at (630) 541 – 9742 or email@example.com.
- All pilgrims are required to have a valid passport.
- Citizens of some countries (not the USA) may need a visa when entering Israel. Please check this requirement for your country.
- All are required to have travel insurance to enter Israel:
- The policy must include coverage for Covid-19 quarantine and/or hospitalization as well as extra trip costs in case the pilgrim tests positive.
- We also recommend the policy includes emergency trip cancellation as to allow for reimbursement should the pilgrim have to cancel within the chargeable cancellation period.
As of June 15, 2022 (via touristisrael.com):
- All tourists (regardless of vaccination status), from all countries will be able to travel to Israel.
- Tourists flying to Israel do not require any testing before or after their flight.
- Tourists do not need to isolate upon entering Israel.
All information regarding Covid-19 guidelines is subject to change.
- The trip will be cancelled and all deposits refunded 100% if we do not meet our minimum quorum of 24 by November 9, 2022.
- Before November 9, 2022, if you need to cancel, your deposit will be refunded 100% whether we meet the minimum quorum or not.
- Before December 5, 2022, if you need to cancel, your deposit will be refunded 90%.
- A 50% cancellation fee will be charged if you choose to cancel between December 12, 2022 and January 4, 2023.
- After January 4, 2023, there is a 100% cancellation fee (no refunds).
- If border closures occur at any time before the dates of the pilgrimage, the total deposited amount will remain on account as credit until such a time new dates can be realized and are executed.
- Complete the registration form and send with deposit of $1,710.00 by November 9, 2022.
- Remaining balance must be paid in full by December 12, 2022.
- Payments can be made online via credit card. Or, checks can be made payable to St. Josemaria Institute and mailed with your registration form to: St. Josemaria Institute; 4340 Cross Street, Suite 1; Downers Grove, IL 60515; USA
Despite what is shared in the news, Israel is a safe country to visit. However, before traveling abroad to any country, you can always check the advisories on the US State Department’s warning map and specific advisories for Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank.
Prior to our pilgrimage we will share and discuss additional security measures you may see and experience while in the Holy Land.
All pilgrims will be invited to attend a virtual webinar with the St. Josemaria Institute and the CRETIO Foundation to discuss what to expect on the pilgrimage and how you can prepare yourself spiritually to visit the holy sites.
We will also share a suggested packing list.
If you have additional questions, please contact our team at (630) 541 – 9742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you will join us for an unforgettable pilgrimage!