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Holy Land and Rome

Day 1 – USA…Israel
Begin your spiritual journey with an evening departure from New York’s JFK Airport (or your hometown) for the overnight flight to Tel Aviv.

Day 2 – Tel Aviv…Netanya
Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport in TEL AVIV. Exit the terminal at the sign marked "groups” and meet your local guide who will escort you to our hotel in NETANYA which overlooks the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Dinner and overnight in the Netanya/Galilee area.

Day 3 – Netanya…Galilee
We travel up the coast heading for Galilee visiting CAESAREA and MUKHRAKA enroute. The highlight of the day will be an afternoon visit to the Basilica of the Annunciation in NAZARETH where we will celebrate Mass and visit Mary's Well. On the way to our hotel in TIBERIAS we will stop at CANA, the village of Jesus' first miracle; here, those who wish may renew their wedding vows. Lunch will be served in a traditional local restaurant.  Overnight in your hotel.


Day 4 – Galilee
The morning will be spent evoking the important teachings that Christ gave around the beautiful setting of the Sea of Galilee. The many highlights of the day include a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to CAPERNAUM to see the synagogue and St. Peter's house; visits to the Mount of the Beatitudes where the Sermon on the Mount was given; TABGHA to see the mosaic of the loaves and fishes; and the nearby Church of Peter's Primacy where Peter was told to "Feed my sheep." There will be an Mass on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. In the afternoon you will visit Mt Tabor, scene of the Transfiguration.   Lunch on your own.  Dinner and overnight at your hotel.  

Day 5 – Samaria…Jerusalem
Jesus broke the taboo of religious and racial segregation by going through SAMARIA. The Samaritan Jews near Nablus were ostracized by the Jews of the Judean Kingdom and, as a result, they traveled to Galilee via the Jordan Valley route to avoid contact with the Samaritans. The story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, which we will visit, is a poignant metaphor for reconciliation and humanity. Today, the region is alive with traditions that are thousands of years old. In the Samaritan village, atop Mt Gerizim you can enjoy a spectacular view and witness an ancient community whose rituals and traditions have changed little since the time of Christ. In the Christian village of TAYBEH the local priest will welcome you with a talk about the village and its inhabitants and the Christian faith that has sustained them for 2,000 years. In this village is a church built over an ancient stable similar to that in which Jesus was born. Lunch will be served in a traditional local restaurant.  Overnight in your hotel in JERUSALEM.

Day 6 – Jerusalem…Mt. Olives…Beit Sahur
On the first day we present an overview of JERUSALEM for a better understanding of its geography and some of the key sites surrounding this area. Take pleasure in a dramatic view of the Old City from the Mount of Olives, revealing a city with 4,000 years of history. From this vantage point you can see much of what makes Jerusalem such a unique city to the three major religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity.  Key sites include the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, the excavations of the City of David.  In the early afternoon we will drive to the town of BEIT SAHUR the location of the Shepherd's Fields inhabited by Christians for hundreds of years.  Lunch has been arranged at the homes of some of the local families.  Afterwards we will visit the site that commemorates the Shepherd's Fields, then visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.   Dinner will be served a traditional restaurant.  Overnight in your hotel.

Day 7 – Gethsemane
At GETHSEMANE is the ' Rock of Agony' where Jesus uttered His last prayer. After the betrayal by Judas, He was held prisoner at the palace of the High Priest Caiphas. From prison, Jesus was taken to Judgment Hall then led through the city to be crucified. Today we retrace these last hours of Jesus. As we walk along the Via Dolorosa through the markets of the Old City praying the Stations of the Cross, we reflect on the enormity of His sacrifice. Finally we arrive at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for the celebration of Mass. In the afternoon we explore this ancient city that has been built and rebuilt seven times. At the Cardo one can discern the Roman layout of the ancient city and view many buildings dating to the time of the Moslem conquest and era of the Crusades. Walking through the bustling bazaars and alleyways, you will notice the distinct character of each of the four quarters of the Old City. We will visit the Wailing Wall and the Mosques. Lunch will be served downtown.  Overnight in your restaurant.

Day 8  – Bethany…Wadi Qelt…Jericho…Qumran…Dead Sea…Masada
The desert east of Jerusalem is rich with Christian tradition: The town of BETHANY home to Martha, Mary, and Lazarus who was raised from the dead; farther east, is the WADI QELT gorge, home of the Monastery of St George. This site evokes the 5th century Monastic tradition of prayer and fasting that thousands of monks continue to this day preserving the example of John the Baptist and Jesus' 40-day fast. At the oasis town of JERICHO visit the excavations of the oldest city in the world, before driving to the Dead Sea and the caves at QUMRAN where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden. On the way back there is time for a swim in healing properties of the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea.  Enjoy a visit to MASADA, the mountaintop fortress built by Herod which was the last stronghold of the Jews’ Rebellion against the Romans. Dinner will be served in a traditional restaurant.  Overnight in your hotel.

Day 9 - Lod…Tel Aviv…Rome
There will be a quick visit to the Tomb of St. George in the Orthodox Church in LOD near the TEL AVIV airport from where you will depart for ROME.  Upon arrival a RENAISSANCE TRAVEL representative will assist you through customs and direct you to your motorcoach.  After you settle in your hotel, the rest of the evening is at your leisure.  Dinner will be served in a traditional Roman restaurant.  Overnight in your hotel.

Day 10 – Rome
After breakfast we will go to the Vatican City to attend the weekly Papal Audience and Blessing given by His Holiness, John Paul II. Visit St Peter’s Basilica, built on the site where St. Peter was martyred. This largest religious temple in the world has housed 264 popes. Unsurpassed in beauty, importance, and history, pilgrims from around the world are welcomed to the most grandiose, sacred church in the world. View its historical treasures such as a piece of the true cross, the lance that pierced Christ’s side and numerous papal tombs. Michelangelo’s mural of the Last Judgment on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is considered one of Michelangelo's greatest masterpieces along his Pieta and the 4 mighty piers which support the magnificent dome. Lunch will be served in a traditional local restaurant.  In the afternoon take time to visit the Vatican Garden, Library and Museum to see the awe-inspiring relics and works of art donated throughout centuries as tributes of faith. Overnight in your hotel in Rome.

Day 11 – Rome
Breakfast, and then we depart for a tour of Christian Rome. The tour includes three major Basilicas.  St Mary Major is one of the oldest shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and was built after a request she made to Pope Liberius to whom she appeared in 358. This shrine contains a relic from the Jesus’ manger. The Basilica of the St John in Lateran is the former residence of all the popes prior to their return to Rome in 1377. Five ecumenical councils were held in this cathedral which now houses the remains of 4 saints. St Paul-Outside-the-Walls, which houses the remains of St. Paul under its main altar. Many relics are displayed, along with the chains that once bound the apostle while a prisoner in Rome. We will also see the ancient Baths of Caracalla, the Arch of Drusus, the Chapel "O'Domine Quo Vadis?" the remains of imperial tombs, the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, and the Catacombs of St Callixtus where the early Christians hid to escape persecution. Mass at the Catacombs of Santa Pracilla.  Dinner at Cecilia Matella Restaurant.  Overnight in your hotel.

Day 12 – Rome…USA
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for our return flight to the USA where you will arrive on the same day. Ciao Roma!



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