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The House of the Virgin Mary is a Catholic shrine located on Mt. Koressos in the vicinity of Ephesus, about 4.3 miles from Selcuk, Turkey. The house was discovered in the 19th century by following the descriptions in the reported visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), a Roman Catholic nun and visionary, which were published as a book by Clemens Brentano after her death. Mary's House maintains a steady flow of pilgrimage since its discovery. Anne Catherine Emmerich was Beatified by Saint John Paul II on October 3, 2004. Catholic pilgrims visit the house based on the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to this stone house by Saint John and lived there until her Assumption (according to Catholic doctrine) or Dormition. The shrine has merited several papal Apostolic Blessings and visits from several popes, the earliest pilgrimage coming from Pope Leo XIII in 1896, and the most recent in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.Lunches (Greece), Meals not mentioned, Tips to your guide & driver
Day 1 : Depart for Greece
Make your way to your local airport where you will board your overnight flight(s). Your meals will be served on board.
Day 2 : Arrive Thessaloniki
Upon landing at Makedonia Thessaloniki Airport, make your way to the baggage claim area and collect your luggage. Proceed to the arrival's hall, where you will be greeted by your tour guide and/or driver. You will be escorted to the bus to be transferred to your hotel. Enjoy some time to relax after check in. This evening enjoy a delicious meal. Overnight in Thessaloniki.
Day 3 : Philippi - Kavala - Thessaloniki
After breakfast start your journey in Greece with the first stop of the day in Philippi. Philippi was the city to where Saint Paul the Apostle delivered his first sermon and where he established the first church in Europe. "And from there (He went) to Philippi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman Colony. We remained in this city some days..." (Acts 16:12-18). Also, it is the site of where Saint Paul baptized a woman named Lydia, the first convert to Christianity in Europe. Visit the Roman Forum where Saint Paul cast a spirit out of a fortune-telling woman. While here, you will have the opportunity to view the prison (now in ruins) of where Saint Paul and Silas were thrown into by the owners of the fortune-tellers. Continue to the modern port city of Kavala, which was once the ancient Neapolis. This port is where Saint Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy landed when they sailed into Europe. After enjoying this city by the sea, return to Thessaloniki for a delicious meal and restful overnight.
Day 4 : Thessaloniki - Meteora - Thessaloniki city-tour - Kalambaka
Start the day with breakfast at the hotel. In the winter of 49-50 A.D., Saint Paul wrote two epistles to the Thessalonians. These letters urged Christians to "live blamelessly" and to refrain from living idly while they wait for the second coming of Christ. While in Thessaloniki, you will witness a number of ancient artifacts, such as the triumphal Arch of Galerius that is found at the start of Via Egnatia. Due to the convenient location, this arch was once a strategic artery of the Roman Empire. It was originally constructed in order to honor the Roman Emperor Galerius following the Roman victory over the Persians. Following your city-tour, transfer to Kalambaka. This evening, you will have a wonderful meal and a relaxing overnight in Kalambaka.
Day 5 : Kalambaka - Delphi
After breakfast we will go for a short drive to the Meteora Monasteries. In the eleventh century, there were monks who settled within caves. However, as the occupation of the Turkish increased, the monks were forced to move their settlements higher upon the rocks until they were unreachable by any opposing enemy. These settlements became Monasteries by bringing building, and living, materials by ladders and baskets. The Meteora Monasteries are notorious for preserving not only the Hellenic religion, but also, their academics and arts. During your visit, you will be able to view stunning Byzantine art, as well as the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the Monastery. Continue to Delphi for dinner and overnight.
Day 6 : Delphi - Athens
Visit Delphi, the center of the ancient world (navel) of the earth, whose prestige extended far beyond the boundaries of the Hellenic world. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Phthios. Visit the site and the museum and continue to Athens.“ Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription “ to an unknown God”. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you…”. Athens, is one of the most glorious cities in the world and the cradle of western civilization as we know it today. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Day 7 : Athens - Excursion to Corinth
After a nice breakfast at the hotel we will start with a tour of the oldest city in the world, Athens! Visit the rock that has dominated the panorama of Athens for twenty-five centuries, the Acropolis. At the Acropolis, you will see the ruins of the Parthenon, Erectheum, and Propylae. After, you will ascend Mars Hill of where Saint Paul spoke to the Athenians. At this site, Paul spoke to the Athenians about the one and only God (Acts 17:22). While in this city, you will be able to view the ancient Agora, the former public center of Athenian life. It held the focus of a political, commercial, social, religious, and cultural center. As you are in the former political center, proceed for a drive through the city to view the House of Parliament on Syntagma Square. Also, you will have the opportunity to view the University of Athens, the oldest higher education institute in Greece, as well as, the National Library of Greece that holds 4,500 Greek manuscripts. Then, visit Panathenaic Stadium, the beautifully marbled multi-purpose stadium. It is home to the Olympian Zeus, and is the site of the first modern era Olympics (1896). Following your visit in Athens, you will proceed to the ancient Corinth. Under the shadow of the towering Acropolis, Saint Paul lived in Corinth for two years. While here, Saint Paul felt great grief over the way that the Gentile Church in Corinth has become. As a result, he was prompted to write four letters, all with the overarching theme of love. In Corinth, you will have the opportunity to view the remains of the first century shops, the site of Saint Paul's trial by Gallio, the Fountain of Peirene, and the Temple of Apollo. Following your visit to Corinth, return to Athens for a delicious meal and overnight.
Day 8 : Athens - Start 3-day Cruise (Celestyal Cruises Cruise Lines) to Mykonos
Following breakfast, you will proceed to the Piraeus port where you will board your 3-day cruise. Your first stop will be the Island of Mykonos, the most cosmopolitan of the Greek islands that attracts visitors from all over the world. After docking, transfer to Hora, the island's capital. Upon arrival in Hora, you will enjoy a walking tour that will take you on the narrow cobbled streets of the city. Pass by chic boutiques, elegant nightclubs, and white washed houses to arrive in Alefkandra. This section of Mykonos is known as the "Venice of Mykonos", as the homes have wooden balconies and are built on the sea. Historically, these homes were of the wealthy merchants and captains. Return to the cruise ship for dinner and overnight.
Day 9 : Kusadasi - Ephesus (Mary's House) - Patmos
After breakfast on board, arrive at the lively Turkish port of Kusadasi. Transfer to the small village of Mt. Koressos. While in this village, you will visit the small stone chapel that is situated upon the site of where the Virgin Mary spent her last days following Christ's crucifixion. Following this visit, your group will walk through the Magnesian Gate to the ancient Ephesus. Begin your walking tour, which will take you through the most magnificent excavations in the world. Some of the sites include the Odeon (concert hall), the Fountain of Trajan, the steam-heated Baths of Scolastika, the Temple of Hadrian and the Latrians, andthe Library of Celsus. The last stop on the walking tour is to the Great Theatre, the largest ancient theatre that had a capacity of 25,000 people and is a site of where Saint Paul preached. On the return of your walking tour, follow the exact route that Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession via the Arcadian Way. This main street runs from the Great Theatre to the main city's harbor. On your transfer back to Kusadasi, you will have the opportunity to view the Basilica of Saint John. In the sixth century, Emperor Justinian erected this structure over the grave of the evangelist, John. Upon arrival in Kusadasi, enjoy free time to explore on your own before returning to the ship. When you embark on the ship, your journey will continue to Patmos, where you will transfer to the village of Chora. While in this island's capital, visit the monastery of Saint John the Theologian. This marvelous structure was built nine-hundred years ago, and continues to be supported by the walls of a strong fortification. In addition to the stunning main church that contains outstanding frescoes, you will have the opportunity to view the beautiful courtyard, dining room, and the bakery. Your tour continues to the small museum, where you will view priceless ecclesiastical treasures such as books, manuscripts, mosaics, icons, textiles, vestments, and jewelry. Board the bus, which will take you to the Monastery and Grotto of the Apocalypse. In this grotto, experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to view the site of where the Book of Revelations was written. The silver niches in the wall mark the pillow and ledge that were used as a desk by the author of the Book. Additionally, view the three-fold crack made by the voice of God who emphasized the importance of honoring the Holy Trinity. Your day will culminate with a transfer to the port of Scala. While in this quaint and picturesque harbor, you will enjoy free time before returning to the ship.
Day 10 : Heraklion - Santorini
This morning you will awaken and transfer to the largest city on the island of Crete, Heraklion. While in this administrative capital, visit the ancient ruins of the Palace of Knossos. These ruins were discovered in 1899, and the palace is currently partially reconstructed. This ancient palace is believed to have been the mythical Labyrinth of King Minos and the seat of ancient Minoan culture. Additionally, it is the site of where Saint Paul met the owner and captain of the ship who warned him of continuing his journey to spread Christianity in Rome. Following this historical visit, you will embark the ship that will take you to the idyllic island of Santorini. Santorini is definitively the most breathtaking island of all of the Greek Islands. Upon arrival in Santorini, visit Thira with its iconic white-washed houses, narrow streets, open-air cafes, and glittering boutiques that cling to steep cliffs. This evening you will return to the ship for your last dinner and overnight on your cruise.
Day 11 : Piraeus - Athens – Tel Aviv
Today marks the end of our cruise. After disembarkation you will be transferred to Athens airport where you will board your flight to Tel Avivi. Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, you will be met by the 206 Tours representative and transfer to your hotel in the Tel Aviv area. Dinner will be served at the hotel.
Day 12 : Caesarea - Stella Maris - Nazareth - Tiberias - Cana
Following breakfast, we will drive to Caesarea, the former capital of Judea. You will have the opportunity to visit the archaeological remains of this ancient port, which aided as base for the Herodian navy. Shortly after the time of Jesus Christ, it was revealed to Peter in Caesarea that the Good News (to repent) is not only intended for Jewish people, but also the entire world. This is the place which officially ended the tradition of adhering to the Jewish ceremonial laws. As a result, Peter baptized a group of gentiles, the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, and his family. Continue North to Haifa. In Haifa, you will find Stella Maris, a Carmelite Monastery. The monastery is located above the cave where Elijah, the prophet, once lived. A colorful painting of this "wonder-worker" can be found on the ceiling of the Church. Following this visit, enjoy the scenic drive (with view of the bay of Acco) to Nazareth. In Nazareth you will experience the town where Mary once lived and where Jesus lived as a child (Matthew 2:23). During the visit to Nazareth we visit the church of the Annunciation which includes the church of St Joseph ( It's not Byzantine - it's from 1914-21 built over Byzantine ruins) which tradition identifies it with the workshop of Joseph and the house of the Holy family. We will continue with a visit of the Church of the Incarnation, viewing at Grotto the remains of the house of the Blessed Virgin where the Angel appeared and announced the good news. Following Pilgrims path we visit Mary's well, where often the Virgin Mary would have walked to draw water from the spring. The next stop will be to Cana where you will visit the Franciscan Wedding Church. Couples will have the opportunity to participate in the ceremony to renew their wedding vows. Your first day culminates with a transfer to Tiberias. Upon arrival in Tiberias, you will check-in to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 13 : Tiberias: Sea of Galilee
After breakfast we start with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. After this, see the remains of a boat that dates back to the time of Jesus, found buried in mud. Continue to the Mount of Beatitudes, scene of Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount. Nearby is Tabgha, where Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 and onto the site known as “Peter’s Primacy”. Here, after His resurrection, Jesus met with His disciples and told Peter to “feed my lambs; feed my sheep.” [John 21:9]. After lunch, we visit the remains of the fishing village of Magdala (Aramaic for “elegant”). During the time of Jesus it was a thriving place that exported dried fish and garum (a fish sauce reduction popular in Roman cooking). Excavations done by the Franciscans in the 1970s revealed the residential area of the village and the docks where the fishing boats would unload the fish caught in the Sea of Galilee. In 2009 a chance discovery revealed a 1stCentury synagogue at the entrance to the village from West. It is also assumed that Mary Magdalen was born here. End the day at Capernaum, from where Jesus launched his Ministry; see the synagogue which dates to the time of Jesus and the church built over the site of Peter’s home. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Day 14 : Jordan River - Mt. Tabor – Jericho – Jordan River - Jerusalem
Today, after breakfast, drive to Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration, with time to reflect on Christ’s Humanity and Divinity. Mass here will be a good preparation for the journey to Jerusalem where Jesus was to suffer the crucifixion and resurrection. Drive down the Jordan Valley to Jericho, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, where we view Mt Temptation and an example of a Sycamore Tree. Visit the Baptismal site on the Jordan River then to Jerusalem, where you check-in to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 15 : Jerusalem: Temple Model - Ein Karem - Bethlehem
Begin the day with a visit to the Second Temple scale model for an overview of Jerusalem as it was at the time of Jesus. A short drive takes us to the village of Ein Karem, birthplace of John the Baptist, to visit the church that commemorates his memory. Pray the Mystery of the Rosary on the walk up the hill to the Church of the Visitation. In the afternoon visit Bethlehem to see the cave at the Shepherds’ Field. The caves have soot marks of the fires that shepherd’s lit to keep warm while watching over their flocks. In the afternoon we will depart to Bethlehem, beginning at Manger Square, which stands in front of one of the oldest of Christian churches, the Church of the Nativity. Enter the Church and down to the Grotto of the Nativity which marks the spot of Jesus’ birth. Beneath the Altar, there is a silver star with the Latin inscription: HIC DE VIRGINE MARIA JESUS CHRISTUS NATUS (Here Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary.) After Mass we will return to the hotel in Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight.
Day 16 : Bethany - Dead Sea
This morning drive down the Jordan Valley to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Afterwards there may be time for a dip in the Dead Sea for those who want to. Drive through the Judean Wilderness where Jesus spent 40 days fasting, and it is in this area that John the Baptist lived and baptized Christ. Then to Bethany where He raised Lazarus from the dead. Celebrate Mass here before returning to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day 17 : Jerusalem: Mt. Of Olives - Gethsemane - Mt. Zion - Western Wal
From the Mount of Olives take in the panoramic view of Jerusalem. Then to the Pater Noster shrine, where Jesus taught His disciples the Pater Noster — The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4). Walking down the Palm Sunday Road stop at the beautiful little church, Dominus Flevit - “The Lord wept.” It was here that Jesus wept over Jerusalem [Luke 19:41]. At Gethsemane reflect on Jesus’ final night. The Garden contains trees, the roots of which go back to the time of Jesus. Visit the Church of All Nations to pray at the “Rock of Agony,” a section of bedrock identified as the place where Jesus prayed alone in the garden on the night of His arrest. Visit the Western Wall, to see all that remains of the Temple compound that dates to the time of Jesus. From here we will continue to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas where He was interrogated and imprisoned. Now called Peter in Gallicantu (“crowing rooster”), this beautiful Church also commemorates Peter’s Denial of Christ, his repentance and then being forgiven by Jesus. After Mass we will go up to Mt. Zion to visit the Upper Room, which commemorates the Last Supper. Nearby is the Benedictine Church of the Dormition. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Day 18 : Jerusalem: Via Dolorosa - Holy Sepulchre
This morning we start the Via Dolorosa (The Way of the Cross) at the Antonia Fortress, where Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate. From there He was taken through the city to be crucified. The Stations of the Cross lead, through the markets of the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Here is the site of Calvary and the Tomb of Christ. Mass will be in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After breakfast visit the Church of St Anne’s, the Pool of Bethesda and the Sisters of Zion. This afternoon there will be time to revisit the Old City. Dinner and Overnight.
Day 19 : Jerusalem - Tel Aviv - Rome
After an early breakfast we make our way to Tel Aviv Airport for our flight(s) to Rome. Upon arrival in Rome you will be greeted by your tour escort and/or driver. After a warm welcome to Italy, you will be escorted to your transportation to your hotel. This afternoon our guide will introduce us to our fellow pilgrims and our priest who will be with us for the rest of the journey. We will make our way to Mass, followed by a welcome dinner with wine. This evening we will walk to St. Peter’s Square for Rosary (optional).
Day 20 : Rome: Papal Audience – Trevi Fountain / Piazza Navona – Basilica of St. John the Lateran and St.
Following breakfast, we will make our way to St. Peter’s Square to attend the Papal Audience, led by His Holiness, Pope Francis. (Papal Audience: Is scheduled to take place every Wednesday, pending the schedule of Pope Francis.) Following the audience, we will make our way to the Trevi Fountain built in the 15th Century to mark the ending destination of the Aqua Virgo – a man-made channel erected in 19 B.C or Piazza Navona where at the center: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi “Fountain of the Four Rivers. After free time for lunch we will visit the Basilica of St. John the Lateran, the Pope’s cathedral church where relics of both Peter and Paul remain under the main altar. It was here that Pope Francis was formally installed as Bishop of Rome. Next we cross the street to see the Holy Staircase which is believed to be a staircase from Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem and brought to Rome by St. Helen in the 4th century. Time permitting we may climb the steps on our knees in memory of Christ’s Passion. Continue to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the most important and the oldest church dedicated to Our Lady. St. Mary Major contains a relic from the Manger of the infant Jesus. We will celebrate Mass, and then make our way to dinner and overnight.
*The Scala Santa is currently under restoration. Thus, the Vatican has displayed an image replicating the stairs in front of the entrance where you will walk in. There are several staircases just to the side of the Scala Santa that you may ascend on your knees. You will still be able to receive the same graces and indulgences by going up any of the alternative stairs.
Day 21 : Rome: St. Peter's Basilica - Vatican Museum - Trevi Fountain - Appian Way - Basilica of St. Paul Out
Following breakfast, we will depart to celebrate Mass in the largest church in Christendom, St Peter's Basilica, built on the site where St Peter was martyred. Unsurpassed in beauty, a monument to the long history of the Catholic Church, to which pilgrims come from around the world, St Peter's is the grandest of the world's churches. Marvel Pieta and Bernini's amazing bronze canopy. Following Mass, we will visit of the Vatican Museums, containing a group of the most impressive edifices with hundreds of galleries filled with art treasures. See awe-inspiring relics, and works of art donated throughout centuries as tributes of faith. We'll cover The Tapestry Gallery, The Raphael Rooms and the most overwhelming Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's Masterpiece, restored mural of the Last Judgment. The tour ends as we make our way back into St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis visited the tomb of St. Peter, following his elevation, for a visit of devotion that lasted 45 minutes. He is the first Pontiff to visit the necropolis since extensive archaeological excavations were conducted at the ancient site decades ago. We will also visit the tomb of Saint John Paul II located at the Vatican. There will be free time for lunch, and then we will continue on to visit St Paul. Outside the Walls. Continue our tour via the Appian Way -- the oldest road from Roman times--plus the famous Domino Quo Vadis Chapel; see the ancient Baths of Caracalla, Arch of Drusus; Tomb of Celilia Metella, and the catacombs of St Callixtus where the early Christians hid themselves to escape persecution. We will conclude our day and wonderful stay in Rome with dinner at a local restaurant in Rome.
Day 22 : Rome - USA
We bid farewell to Italy and our new pilgrimage family as we depart for Rome Airport. During the drive take time to reflect on the memories that will remain in your heart for a lifetime.
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