There’s no doubt about it. Traveling is one of the most fulfilling experiences available on the planet, and with all the many types of travel available, one of the most rewarding has to be a trip embarked on for spiritual significance. Nicky Stokes takes us on a pilgrimage through the Holy Land.
Be it a meditative journey through ashrams in India, or a vow of silence with Buddhist nuns at a monastery in Thailand, journeys to enrich the soul are always worth their weight in gold. In the Middle East, spiritual crusades abound, with three major Abrahamic religions being born in the region: Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
One of the more unique trips for those seeking salvation through spiritual travel has to be an expedition through theHoly Land following in one of Christian history’s most prolific women’s footsteps: The Virgin Mary.
As recommended by the Israel Ministry of Tourism, this 12-day tour begins with travelers being transferred from Tel Aviv to Nazareth, the holy family’s hometown, where visits to the Chapel of the Virgin Mary’s Fright and other sites commemorating central events of Mary’s life.
Following the footsteps of Virgin Mary
From Nazareth, those on the tour will be transferred to Galilee where one of the main highlights includes a visit to Sepphoris, an ancient city believed to be Mary’s childhood home; visit St Anne and Joachim’s church, followed by a tour of the excavations sites and ancient mosaics in the adjacent National Archaeological Park. Continue to Cana of Galilee, for a visit to the Church of the First Miracle, where Mary was present at the wedding feast where Jesus turned the water into wine.
Visit the Golan Olive Oil Mill for a tour and tasting, as well as the Basilica of Annunciation, which enshrines the grotto where the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary.
Included in the Galilee itinerary is the city of Capernaum, a small fishing village where Jesus called seven of his Disciples; the Church of the House of St Peter and the ancient Synagogue; a Greek Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles; Tabgha, the Church of the Multiplication, where Jesus fed the multitudes; a trip to the Mount of the Beatitudes; and a visit to a 2000 year old ancient boat at the ‘Jesus Boat Museum’.
Further on the trail
Head to Jerusalem, stopping at the Shrine of the Virgin Mary and Elijah’s Cave where the Holy Family is said to have rested on their way home from Egypt. Walk down to the Garden of Gethsemane and the nearby Church of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, where, according to Eastern Church tradition, Mary was laid to rest before the Assumption. From there, it’s on to Mount Zion to visit The Cenacle, which marks the place where Mary and the Disciples experienced Pentecost. This is also the location of the Last Supper.
Another highlight of this historical tour includes viewing the Shrine of the Book, which displays the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a drive to Bethlehem is planned to visit the Basilica of Nativity: One of the earliest and most important of all Christian ecclesiastical buildings as it holds the cave believed to be the place where Jesus was born.
Still in Jerusalem, tour the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the traditional site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus.
For more information visit www.thinkisrael.com
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