Southern Cross: Holy Land, Rome, Assisi, Cairo Aug-Sep 2017

Archbishop William Slattery OFM • 25 Aug – 8 Sept 2017

Join Archbishop William Slattery OFM on this very special pilgrimage in the spirit of St Francis to the Holy Land, Rome, Assisi, Greccio (where St Francis invented the Nativity Scene) and Cairo.

Archbishop Slattery will lead his third pilgrimage with Fowler Tours. A Franciscan, he is the Archbishop of Pretoria.

Friday, August 25
We depart from Johannesburg International Airport on our night-flight to Tel Aviv.

Saturday, August 26
We land in Tel Aviv where we are met by our tour guide. We drive up the Mediterranean coast and then turn east to reach Nazareth, hometown of Our Lord. After Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation, we visit the Carpenter’s Workshop, as the Church of St Joseph’s is sometimes called, and Mary’s Well, where Our Lady drew water (it was the town’s only well).

Sunday, August 27
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. 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.

Jesus boat

Monday, August 28
We drive to Mount Tabor, site of the Transfiguration, with its beautiful church built by the master architect Antonio Barluzzi. We then visit Cana, site of Our Lord’s first miracle, where couples can renew their wedding vows. We then leave Galilee and travel to the hill country of Judea, as the young Mary did to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Two churches in Ein Kerem commemorate that encounter and the birth of St John the Baptist.

Tuesday, August 29
In Bethlehem we visit the ancient Basilica of the Nativity, which marks the place of Jesus’ birth. Shepherds’ Field, where the angels announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds. After lunch we drive to the Qasr El Yahud baptismal site on the River Jordan, and visit Jericho, the world’s oldest continuously settled city, from where we can see the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. At the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, we can float on the mineral-rich water.

Wednesday, August 30
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.

Dominus Flevit

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 in which we know Jesus actually walked!

Thursday, August 31
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.

Friday, September 1
Today is our travelling day as we make our way from Tel Aviv to Rome, from where we drive to Assisi, the lovely medieval town of St Francis and St Clare. This is a day when we have a chance to close our eyes and reflect on our experiences and the graces we received while in the Holy Land.

50 St Francis Basilica in AssisiSaturday, September 2
Today we explore Assisi. The 13th-century Basilica of St Francis contains the tomb of Francis and Giotto’s beautiful frescoes of his life. St Clare Basilica,also from the 13th century, houses the relics of St Clare, original robes that belonged to her and to St Francis, as well as the miraculous crucifix that spoke to Francis. In the afternoon, we visit the Eremo delle Carceri: in the caves on the slope of Mount Subasio just outside the walls of Assisi, St Francis and his followers established their first home at the Carceri Hermitage. He often returned here during his life to pray. At San Damiano Convent St Francis first received his miraculous calling in 1205 and St Clare died there in 1253. The Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (or Mary of the Angels), just outside Assisi, is the place of St Francis’ ministry really began and where he died. Inside the grand baroque basilica is the Porziuncola, the tiny church in the meadows which St Francis was called to renovate.

Sunday, September 3
We leave Assisi for the gorgeous Rieti Valley in the Lazio region, a place few English-speaking pilgrimages visit. It is a favourite site of Fowler Tours and of Archbishop Slattery. St Francis and his companions spent a lot of time at Greccio, the place where St Francis invented the Nativity Scene. We can see his cell inside the Franciscan dormitory there. At nearby Fonte Colombo St Francis wrote the Rule of the Franciscans in a cave, which we can see, and prayed in the tiny chapel of St Mary Magdalene, which still stands there. We then proceed to Rome.

Monday, September 4
In Rime, 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.

papal audience

Tuesday, September 5
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.

Wednesday, September 6
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 final Mass Final Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, the Franciscan church (fittingly, for our Franciscan archbishop) where the remains of St Helena, the great patron of the Holy Land, are kept. We then make our way to the airport to catch our flight to Cairo.


Thursday, September 7
In the morning we visit the great Pyramids of Giza with an opportunity to climb on a structure that was already ancient when Moses was born. Of course, we also see the Sphinx. We then go to old Cairo to visit the historical Hanging Church, Egypt’s important church, and the Abu Serga, the grotto where the Holy Family was hiding during the Flight into Egypt. We then make our way to the airport to catch our flight home.

Friday, September 8
After an unforgettable journey we land in South Africa, physically tired but spiritually refreshed!

See this video of the pilgrimage with Fowler Tours and The Southern Cross which Archbishop Slattery led in 2013.

Est. price:  R44,639 (sharing, ex-Jhb; subject to currency, airport tax fluctuations. Calculated on 32+ passengers, at R14,30 to the dollar/R15,80 to the euro)

Includes: All flights ex-Johannesburg (incl. airport taxes), accommodation in 3-star hotels or better (sharing) with breakfast and dinner, lunches (in Holy Land only), transfers, travel insurance, travelling on air-conditioned luxury buses, English-speaking tour guides, entrance fees, preparation material.
Excludes: Tips (these are set and mandatory), visas, personal expenses, travel to and from O.R. Tambo Airport/Jhb.

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