Throughout our spiritual pilgrimage, we will experience the holy places in which Jesus was born, ministered, crucified, and rose again. Through this spiritual journey, we will remain open to God’s message and will return home with a new and deeper understanding of the living history of this incredible place and of those who inhabit and keep it—the “Living Stones” of the Holy Land.
We depart to the Holy Land on an international flight. Meals and in-flight entertainment provided.
Day 1 – Monday, November 6th: Departure
Day 2 – Tuesday, November 7th: Travel & Arrival in Tel AvivArrival Ben Gurion International Airport. An HCEF Representative will guide us to Bethlehem for dinner and rest.
Day 3 – Wednesday, November 8th: BethlehemAn HCEF representative welcomes us on our spiritual journey. A visit to Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour, where angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. Afterward, we visit the Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus. Our tour continues to the Grotto of St. Jerome to celebrate Mass, and then to nearby Milk Grotto, where the Holy Family took refuge during the Slaughter of the Innocents.
After lunch at Al Karmeh restaurant, we will tour the Bethlehem Museum to learn about the history and culture of Palestine since Pre-Roman times. Afterward, we visit Bethlehem University to dialogue with students about their experiences.
An afternoon visit to the Bethlehem Carmelite Convent, founded by the Palestinian Carmelite saint, Miriam Baouardy of Jesus Crucified. Then a light walk through the path taken by the Holy Family through the old city of Bethlehem until we reach Nativity Square. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 4 – Thursday, November 9th: JerusalemDepart for Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives to visit the Churches of Pater Noster and Dominus Flevit. We celebrate mass at the Church of All Nations, in the solemn Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed before his Passion.
After lunch, we visit Mount Zion and the Upper Room, the scene of the Last Supper, and the Church of the Assumption (Tomb of Mary). Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 5 – Friday, November 10: Dead Sea/ Jericho/QumranAfter breakfast, we visit the Tomb of Lazarus, located in the West Bank town of Al-Eizariya, traditionally known as Bethany. The tomb is the site of a miracle in which Jesus resurrects Lazarus. Prayer and Mass.
We continue into the Jordan Valley to Jericho, where Zacchaeus climbed the sycamore tree and healed Bartimaeus’ blindness. We ponder the temptations of Jesus at the summit of the Mount of Temptation. After lunch, we will visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, and will then enjoy the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 6 – Saturday, November 11th: Birzeit and RamallahWe depart for Birzeit, located in the outlying hills of Ramallah. Birzeit is also known as ancient Berzetho from the Greek –Roman period, to meet the local parish who will teach us about the history of local Christians, and the church’s archeological significance, which houses artifacts from the stone and bronze age. We celebrate Mass in the church.
We then visit HCEF’s the elders at the Birzeit Senior Citizen Center, hearing their stories and breaking bread with them. We then visit Jifna, a small scenic village that was an important Roman-Byzantine city. Previously known as Gophna of Josephus, Jifna was the region’s capital during the first century AD. Afterward, we travel to Ramallah to visit the Church of Hope, opened in 1954 to support those seeking refuge from conflict. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 7 – Sunday, November 12th: JerusalemWe depart very early for Jerusalem to walk the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) through the narrow alleys and bazaars of the Old City, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Tomb of Christ where we will celebrate Mass. Afterward, we visit the Church of the Redeemer, and meet with a representative of the Christian Religious Leaders of Jerusalem.
After lunch, we will enjoy free time in Jerusalem. We visit the Dome of the Rock, the Golden Gate, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount. We continue to the Jesuit Pontifical Biblical Institute before we return for a farewell dinner with the HCEF staff during our final night in Bethlehem. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 8—Monday, November 13th: Nablus/ JeninWe depart for Nablus (Neapolis), founded in 72 AD by the Flavian Emperors on the northern slope of Mount Gerizim. There, we visit Jacob's Well, where Jesus met the Samaritan woman who offered him water, and celebrate Mass in the church. Afterward, we tour Nablus’ Old City and Mount Gerizim, a revered mountain by the Samaritans. After lunch, we travel to Sebastia, associated with John the Baptist, and we view the Roman tombs, a Hellenistic Tower, and the Herodion Gate Towers. We head to Jenin to visit the Church of Burqin, considered the third oldest church in the world, situated where Jesus cured the ten lepers. Dinner and overnight in Jenin.
Day 9—Tuesday, November 14th: Nazareth/Mount TaborWe depart for Mount Tabor, the site of the transfiguration to enjoy the Valley of Jezreal. We visit the Church in Cana, the site of the first miracle, changing water into wine. Married couples may renew their wedding vows. We travel to Nazareth to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation where the Angel Gabriel first told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Mass at the Basilica of the Nativity.
While in Nazareth, we will also see Mary’s well and Joseph's workshop. Dinner and overnight in Nazareth.
Day 10—Wednesday, November 15th: Ibillin/Mt Carmel/ HaifaWe depart for Ibillin to tour Mar Elias schools, known for educating children of all ethnic and religious backgrounds based upon peace, reconciliation, respect, and justice. We meet with representatives from the 3,000 students and faculty of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Druze heritage who work as one community. After lunch, we go to Haifa to visit Mt Carmel, where the prophet Elijah performed miracles, and the first Carmelite monastery was developed in the thirteenth century. The city of Haifa sweeps up the slopes of Mt. Carmel and is home to many cultural and educational institutions. No visit to Haifa is complete without touring the restored Templar Colony, the Bahá’í Shrine and Gardens, Elijah’s cave, and Stella Maris Church and Monastery. Dinner and overnight in Nazareth.
We depart for the Sea Galilee, to the Mount of Beatitudes and read the Sermon on the Mount. Prayer and Mass. We continue to Tabgha (Heptapegon) to the Church of the Multiplication of Fish and Loaves to admire a well-conserved 5th Century Byzantine mosaic.
Day 11—Thursday, November 16th: Sea of Galilee
Afterward, we visit the chapel of the Primacy of Peter and continue to Magdala Synagogue. We travel to Capernaum, the town of Jesus to see the ruins, the remains of Peter’s House, the “Insula Sacra,” and the White Synagogue. During a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, we will reflect on Jesus’ calming of the wind and the waves.
Dinner and overnight in Nazareth
After an early morning transfer to the airport, we fly home, however our faith journey will continue in a new, invigorated way. We will have met the descendants of the first disciples of Jesus and witnessed how the people of the Holy Land strive to build bridges of justice, peace, and reconciliation. They will enable us to interpret contemporary news from the region in a different way. A Living Stones pilgrimage will enrich and permanently change your life.
Day 12: Friday, November 17th: Return home
Itinerary is subject to change without notice.
Itinerary includes interactions with the Living Stones
Meeting with church leaders may be changed depending upon their schedules.