Holy Land & Rome May 2019 with The Southern Cross

Led by Fr Russell Pollitt SJ with Günther Simmermacher

5 – 17 May 2019

Join The Southern Cross on this beautiful pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the director of the Jesuit Institute and co-editor of the Spotlight.Africa website. One of SA’s most prominent priests, he often appears on TV. With the Jesuit Institute Fr Pollitt is closely involved in organising the annual Winter Theology series of lectures, and regularly holds retreats and workshops on spirituality.

Günther Simmermacher is the long-serving editor of The Southern Cross, the national Catholic weekly. He is also an expert on the Holy Land and the author of The Holy Land Trek: A Pilgrim’s Guide. With the top local guide, who will be a Christian, he will be happy to share his knowledge of the Holy Land.

 

Sunday, May 5, 2019
We depart from Johannesburg International Airport on our night-flight to start our pilgrimage.

Monday, May 6
In Rome, we visit the basilicas of St John Lateran, the pope’s cathedral as Bishop of Rome, and St Mary Major, one of the oldest churches in the world, having originally been built in the fifth century. There we can see the famous Marian icon at which Pope Francis prays before and after every foreign trip. After lunch we discover the Rome of the Renaissance with places like the Trevi Fountain, Navona Square, and so on, as well as the Pantheon, which was built in the second century.

Tuesday, May 7
Today is our Vatican day! We are guided through St Peter’s Basilica with its many religious and artistic treasures, including the tombs of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II. We then go into the Catacombs, the long underground cemeteries which the early Christians used as a place of hiding to escape persecution. In the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls we visit the tomb of St Paul and see his reputed prison chains, as well as every pope in history represented in mosaic medallions.

St Peter’s Basilica

Wednesday, May 8
Today we see the pope at his weekly general papal audience (if he is not travelling that day). In St Peter’s Square is driven around in the popemobile, so we can get a good look at him. After the audience we have time for lunch, and a Mass in the Church of the Gesù, the mother church of the Jesuits (since our priest is a member of the Society of Jesus). We also have opportunity to see the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus.

Thursday, May 9
We complete our programme in Rome before transferring to Fiumicino Airport for our flight to Tel Aviv.

Friday, May 10
In Nazareth we visit the Basilica of the Annunciation with the grotto where the Archangel greeted Mary with the words “Hail Mary, full of grace”, and the nearby Church of St Joseph. We see Mary’s Well, where Our Lady drew water, and other sites associated with the Holy Family. We then visit Cana, site of Our Lord’s first miracle, where couples can renew their wedding vows. We visit Mount Tabor, site of the Transfiguration, from where we can survey the Jezreel Valley.

Saturday, May 11
Today go to the Sea of Galilee, around which most of Jesus’ public ministry took place. At Capernaum we can see the remains of Peter’s house, for which we archeological proof, and of a fourth-century synagogue built on top of the one in which Jesus probably preached (the foundations of which we can still see). A Tabgha a church recalls the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, and the nearby chapel of Peter’s Primacy marks the place where Christ entrusted the Church to St Peter. We drive up Mount of Beatitudes, on the slopes of which Jesus delivered his famous sermon. At Migdal (or Magdala) we can see the remains of a 1st-century synagogue in which Jesus very likely preached. We also have lunch at Migdal, with an opportunity to eat the St Peter’s fish from the Sea of Galilee. A highlight of the pilgrimage is the boat-ride on the Sea of Galilee on a recreation of a first-century fishing vessel, a time for both fun and for prayerful reflection.

Sunday, May 12
Today travel south to Bethlehem where we visit the ancient Basilica of the Nativity, which marks the place of Jesus’ birth, and the Milk Grotto, where tradition holds the Blessed Virgin breastfed the baby Jesus before the flight into Egypt. Shepherds’ Field, where the angels announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds, is one of the Holy Land’s loveliest sites. On a visit to an olive wood workshop we can see how the famous carvings of Bethlehem are made.

The Sea of Galilee seen from the Mount of Beatitudes

Monday, May 13
After breakfast we visit Bethany, the town where Jesus often stayed with his friends Mary and Martha, and where he raised Lazarus from the dead. We then drive to visit the Qasr El-Yahud baptismal site on the River Jordan, which the Vatican recognises as the authentic site of the baptism. There we renew our baptismal vows. We pass through Jericho, with a view on the Mount of Temptation, the place where Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. On the Dead Sea, where we can float on the mineral-rich water at the lowest point on earth.

Tuesday, May 14
Jerusalem! We begin our pilgrimage to the Holy City on top of the Mount of Olives at the small chapel, now a mosque, which marks the spot from which Catholics believe Christ ascended into Heaven (see His reputed footprint in a stone there). As we walk down the mount we visit Paternoster Church, where the Lord’s Prayer is displayed in hundreds of languages, including several South African versions, and Dominus Flevit Church, which is on the spot where Jesus wept for Jerusalem. At the foot of the mount we arrive at the Gethsemane with its ancient olive trees, and the magnificent Church of All Nations with the rock on which Jesus is believed to have prayed before His arrest. Across the street we visit Mary’s Tomb, from which Our Lady was assumed into heaven.

We then go to Mount Zion to visit the impressive Dormition Abbey, where Our Lady fell asleep, the Cenacle (Upper Room) which commemorates the Last Supper and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, where Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin, kept in a dungeon, and where Peter denounced Our Lord three times. See the steps on which we know Jesus actually walked!

Wednesday, May 15
This is the day we follow the Stations of the Cross, the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. The Way of the Cross culminates in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, our faith’s most sacred site. Here you can touch the rock where the cross stood and pray in the tomb from which Our Lord rose from the dead. We also visit the lovely St Anne’s Church, a Crusader church on the site of the home of Saints Anne & Joachim, parents of the Blessed Virgin, and the Pools of Bethesda, where Our Lord cured the lame man. Time permitting, we may go to the Western (or Wailing) Wall. We close our pilgrimage at Ein Kerem where the Church of the Visitation commemorates the Blessed Virgin’s encounter with St Elizabeth and her reciting of the Magnificat, and the Church of St John’s Nativity, with its beautiful Spanish tiles, which marks the birthplace of St John the Baptist.

Thursday, May 16
After a breakfast we go east to Emmaus, where the Risen Lord accompanied to the two grieving disciples. We then proceed to Jaffa, the place from where Jonas made his encounter with the whale, and where St Peter stayed with Simon the Tanner when he had his dream to accept the Gentiles to the new faith of Jesus Christ. We then go to Tel Aviv’s airport to make our journey home.

Friday, May 17
After an unforgettable journey we land in Johannesburg, physically tired but spiritually refreshed, remembering the words of the Psalmist: “They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed but abides forever” (125:1).

MASS WILL BE CELEBRATED EVERY DAY.
INCLUDES DAILY LUNCH IN SELECTED RESTAURANT IN THE HOLY LUNCH!

 

Est. Price: TBA (sharing, ex-Jhb; subject to currency, airport tax fluctuations, calculated on 32 passengers)

Includes: All flights ex-Johannesburg (incl. airport taxes), accommodation in 3/4-star hotels or better (sharing) with breakfast and dinner, daily lunches (in Holy Land only), transfers, travel insurance, travelling on air-conditioned luxury buses, English-speaking tour guides, entrance fees, hotel taxes, preparation material.

Excludes: Tips (these are set and mandatory), visas, personal expenses, travel to and from O.R. Tambo Airport/Jhb.

A deposit of R4,400 secures your place on this unforgettable pilgrimage. For account details and booking form, please download the illustrated itinerary.

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