Holy Land – July 2023

Led by Frs Christopher Slater & Peter Whitehead • 2 to 11 July 2023

The East London Deanery invites you to join this special pilgrimage to the Holy Land.


Sunday, July 2, 2023
We depart from Johannesburg to leave on our night-flight for our special Holy Land pilgrimage.

Monday, July 3
We land in Tel Aviv where we are met by our tour guide. We then proceed to Mount Carmel, overlooking Haifa, with the cave of Elijah. Here the Carmelite Order was founded.

Boat-ride on the Sea of Galilee

Tuesday, July 4
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, with its stunning Church of the Transfiguration.

Wednesday, July 5
After breakfast we 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 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). At 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. We visit Magdala, hometown of Mary Magdalene, where a 1st century synagogue was found in which Jesus very possibly preached. 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. At lunch today, with an opportunity to eat the St Peter’s fish from the Sea of Galilee.

Bethlehem: The silver star that marks the place of Jesus birth in the Basilica of the Nativity.

Thursday, July 6
Today we move south to Bethlehem, where Our Lord was born. We visit the ancient Basilica of the Nativity, where a silver star marks the place of Jesus’ birth. The Milk Grotto is where, according to tradition, the Holy Family hid during the Massacre of the Innocents. Shepherds’ Field, where the angels announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds, is one of the Holy Land’s loveliest sites. In Bethlehem we have the opportunity to do some souvenir shopping.

Friday, July 7
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 we can float on the mineral-rich water at the lowest point on earth.

Saturday, July 8
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 looked at Jerusalem and wept for its impending destruction. At the foot of the mount we arrive at the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive trees, and the magnificent Church of All Nations with the Rock of Agony, 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.

On Mount Zion we visit the impressive Dormition Abbey, where Our Lady fell asleep, the Cenacle (Upper Room) which commemorates the Last Supper, and the Church of St Peter in
Gallicantu (which means St Peter where the cock crowed), where Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin, kept in a dungeon, and where Peter denounced Our Lord three times. Next to the church we can see the steps on which we know Jesus actually walked!

Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Below the altar pilgrims touch the rock where the cross stood.

Sunday, July 9
This is the day we follow the Way 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 birthplace of Our Lady, the lovely St Anne’s Church, a Crusader church on the site of the home of Saints Anne & Joachim, parents of the Blessed Virgin. At the Pools of Bethesda Our Lord cured the lame man.

At Ein Kerem, today a part of West Jerusalem, we remember in two beautiful churches the Nativity of John the Baptist and Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth during which Our Lady
recited the Magnificat. The Church of the Visitation marks the place of the third and fourth line of the Hail Mary.

Monday, July 10
After breakfast we go east to Emmaus, where the Risen Lord accompanied the two grieving disciples. We stop at the Latroun site. 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.

Tuesday, July 11
After an unforgettable journey we come home, 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 at sacred sites every day.
Daily lunch in selected restaurants!

Est. Price: 38,784 (incl. airport taxes ex-JHB; subject to currency and price fluctuations, based on 32 travelling. Calculated at R16,35 to the dollar)Includes: All flights ex-Johannesburg (incl. airport taxes), accommodation in 4-star hotels (sharing) with breakfast and dinner, daily lunches in selected restaurants, transfers, travelling on air-conditioned luxury buses, English-speaking tour guide, entrance fees, travel insurance, preparation material.Excludes: Tips (these are set and mandatory), personal expenses, travel to and from O.R. Tambo Airport/Jhb.NB: NO VISAS REQUIRED FOR SA CITIZENSHow to book: A deposit of R3,820 secures your place. Send in proof of payment with the filled booking form and a copy of your passport. The booking form and details are included in the illustrated itinerary.
Download Itinerary with booking form