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Day 1 : Depart USA
Board your flight for the start of your journey to Tel Aviv, with complimentary meals and beverages served on board.
Day 2 : Arrive Tel Aviv
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 3 : 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 4 : 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 5 : 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 6 : 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 7 : 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 8 : Jerusalem: Mt. Of Olives - Gethsemane - Mt. Zion - Western Wall
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 9 : 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 10 : Jerusalem - Tel Aviv - Rome
Today we depart from the Holy Land for on flight to Rome. Upon arrival in Rome you will be met by your driver and transfer to the hotel where you will meet the rest of your group. 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 11 : Rome: Papal Audience - Basilica of St. John the Lateran - Holy Steps - Basilica of St. Mary Major
After a nice breakfast at your hotel, your first sightseeing day in Rome starts! The tour begins with the Papal Audience in St. Peter's Square! The Audience is celebrated each Wednesday by His Holiness, Pope Francis (pending the papal schedule). Following the Audience, there will be free time for lunch, or shop, or mail a postcard from the Vatican Post Office. This afternoon you will visit the oldest of the four major basilicas in Rome, and the home to the relics of Peter and Paul, the Basilica of St. John the Lateran. This Basilica is where Pope Francis was installed as Bishop of Rome, and where he officiates as the Bishop of Rome. Next, we will cross the street to visit the Holy Staircase. Tradition states that this staircase is from Pontius Pilate's palace of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. It is also said that this Staircase was brought to Rome by St. Helen in the 4th century. If time permits, you may climb the steps on your knees, in memory of Christ's agonizing Passion. To conclude your day, we will proceed to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. This Basilica contains a relic from the Manger of the Infant Jesus. Return to the hotel for 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 12 : 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 13 : Rome - Monte Cassino - San Giovanni Rotondo
Following breakfast, we will head south and cross through the Roman countryside with its villas and vineyards. During your drive, your tour escort will explain the spiritual, historical, and cultural overview of Italy, which will help to orient you to this beautiful country and prepare you for all that you will experience in the days to follow. We stop at Montecassino, a beautiful town founded by Saint Benedict in 529. Enjoy lunch and then continue through the countryside heading east to Padre Pio's town, San Giovanni Rotondo, our base for the following two nights. Dinner and overnight.
Day 14 : San Giovanni Rotondo - Monte Sant' Angel
After celebrating Mass at the tomb of Padre Pio, we tour the sanctuary, see the old church and the crucifix from which he received the stigmata in 1918. You will see the confessional where Padre Pio spent innumerable hours with a multitude of pilgrims, directing them on their journey toward God. (Beginning June 1st , 2013 - We will have the opportunity to view and pray before the incorrupt body of Padre Pio.) Enjoy a breathtaking view of the Gargano Peninsula and a visit to the Grotto of Michael the Archangel. Six different popes, St Francis and at least four other saints have knelt in prayer at this grotto, seeking the protection of St Michael. Following lunch, take in the panoramic view of the ocean and the surrounding countryside awaits you at this most celebrated shrine of early Christianity, a shrine consecrated by St Michael himself in 490. Return to San Giovanni for devotions, reflection, and a restful overnight.
Day 15 : San Giovanni Rotondo - Lanciano - Assisi
Following breakfast, your group will board the bus and head to Lanciano (approximately two hours). Upon arrival in Lanciano, you will celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Longinus. This Church is the site of the Eucharistic Miracle that occurred in the eighth century. At the time of the Miracle, there was a Basilian monk who struggled with the belief in the real presence of The Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. During the time of Mass, the monk, with doubt in his voice, said the "Words of Consecration" and the bread turned into living flesh, and the wine transformed into live blood. After Mass free time for lunch. Continue toward Assisi (Approximately three hours), the hometown of St. Francis. Upon arrival in Assisi, your group will check-in, enjoy dinner, before retiring to your room for a restful night's sleep.
Day 16 : Assisi (The Life of a Saint, that inspired a Holy Father)
Today is a very special day, as we will spend a full day touring the home of the Saint that inspired our Holy Father. Pope Francis chose his name in admiration of the Saint of Nature and Servant to the Poor. Known for being a humble man himself, Pope Francis spent most of his life denying the luxuries of life, and preferring to live in simplicity and humility. Following breakfast, we will begin a tour of Assisi. Visit the tomb of St Francis. Explore the quaint hilltop birthplace of St Francis that still retains something of the atmosphere of the early 1200s, the period when St Francis began his ministry. Contained within the huge 13th-century Basilica are many of the saint's possessions and a series of frescoes depicting his life. You may kneel before the crucifix from which Jesus spoke to St Francis, asking him to rebuild His church. It was in St Mary of the Angels Basilica where St Francis spent most of his life. Here we visit the Chapel, Portiuncola, the rose bush, and the cave where the saint retired for prayer. Stroll the medieval streets of the compact little town. You will have some free time to shop or eat lunch at an outdoor cafe with a view of an ancient Roman temple, we go to the Church of St. Clare to view the relics of St. Clare. The foundress of the Order of Poor Clares followed the teachings of St Francis by living a life of poverty and humility. We will visit these two saints' tombs before dinner and retiring for the evening.
Day 17 : Assisi - Gubbio - LaVerna - Assisi
After breakfast, we will drive through the beautiful Umbrian mountains to Gubbio. Enjoy this medieval town with a visit of St. Francis Church, were we will be celebrating Mass. After Mass we will visit a town that seems painted onto the hill, a succession of backdrops against which towers and houses stand out, all embraced by walls. The town has been freed by St. Francis from a terrible and fierce wolf who afflicted it. After lunch, on your own, we will continue to La Verna, this is the place where St. Francis, over the years, has been seven times and the last time in 1224 where he received the stigmata. Here you will be able to pray in the Chapel of the Stigmata, the Basilica and the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels. You will also be able to admire the beautiful artworks of Andrea della Robbia. Return to Assisi for dinner and overnight.
Day 18 : Assisi - Rome - USA
Following breakfast, we will board our bus that will bring us to Rome Airport for our return flights home. We will bid farewell to our new friends and to a Pilgrimage which will be in our memories and hearts for a long time to come. We depart for Rome Airport and fondly say, Arrivederci Italia!
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