During the Easter period this year a group of Catholic Pilgrims from The Congo spent 10 days visiting the Holy Land.
The tour started with a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem – the city where Jesus was born – followed by a short walk in the Shepherds fields.
On Palm Sunday the group joined in a momentous walk in Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives Jerusalem to the Old City, where they joined many other tourists visiting this very important Christian site, including a visit as well to the Western Wall.
The group also travelled to Haifa to visit Muhraka, the place where Elijah confronted the priests of Baal and then continued on into the Galilee area where they stopped at Mt. Tabor the site of the Miracle of the Transfiguration.
Once in Cana, they went to the Church of the First Miracle – where Jesus turned water into wine. They also joined in the Mass in the magnificent Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth and visited Mary’s Well.
One of the most unforgettable moments of this journey was the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, allowing the participants to pause for deep reflection and a prayer. After the ride, they continued to Capernaum, where they participated in the Mass, at the Mount of the Beatitudes – the site where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Later there was also time to visit historical Tabgha where the Miracle of the Multiplication of the loaves and Fishes took place. The day ended with one of the most moving experiences the group had during this journey – a traditional Baptism in the Jordan River.
The next day the pilgrims drove to Jericho, the oldest city in the world, to view the Mount of Temptation and the Sycamore Tree and participate in morning Mass at the Good Shepherd Church. They then continued on to the caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and then on to the Dead. After this intensive day, nothing could be better than ending it by relaxing and floating in the healing waters of the Dead Sea before returning to their hotel in Jerusalem.
On Holy Thursday they visited the Holocaust Memorial of Yad Vashem, followed by a drive to ancient Emmaus and ended the day visiting Ein Karem, the birthplace of John the Baptist. Good Friday was reserved to get to know the Sacred City of the World – Jerusalem. They started at the Mount of Olives, visiting the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane. They then entered the old city via the Pools of Bethesda and the Church of St. Anne.
Once in the Old City, they walked along the Via Dolorosa, following the Stations of the Cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In the afternoon, they drove to Mt. Zion, the Hall of the Last Supper, the Dormition Abbey and the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. They also joined in local mass. Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion.
On their last day in the Holy Land, they participated in Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, visited the bazaars in the Old City of Jerusalem and walked along the Cardo, an ancient Roman Road. In the afternoon, they drove up to Caesarea, where they visited the excavations of the Romans and Crusader ruins. They then drove back along the scenic coastal road to Tel Aviv/Jaffa for a city tour and a farewell dinner in the old city of Jaffa before being transported to the airport for their flight home.