DAY 13: TUESDAY – JERUSALEM – FLY TO ATHENS
Theme: The Ascension of Jesus
We return to the Mt of Olives to the Chapel of the Ascension which is believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended into heaven. The small round church/mosque contains a stone imprinted with what is said to be the footprints of Jesus.
Here we will close our pilgrimage and remember the Lord’s final words to the eleven disciples as He made the Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. ” – Mt 28:18-20
We farewell Jerusalem this afternoon as we are transferred to the airport for our ongoing flight connections to Greece.
Athens today is the thriving capital of Greece, but, more importantly, we have entered into the world of the New Testament where St Paul and his companions established the first Christian communities throughout his four missionary journeys.
On arrival in Athens we will be met and transferred to our centrally located hotel.
Athens overnight (B)
DAY 14: WEDNESDAY - ATHENS & CORINTH
When St Paul first came to Athens it was predominantly a city which worshipped pagan gods. St Paul was taken before the city council at the Areopagus Hill, a rough outcrop of limestone rock from which he preached the Gospel message to the Athenian philosophers (Acts 17:16-21).
We begin our pilgrimage with a tour of Christian Athens including the Acropolis, the Areopagus where St Paul delivered his famous sermon about the identity of "the Unknown God" (Acts 17:15-34). Visit the Ancient Agora where Paul preached about Jesus and the resurrection, the Plaka (Old Greece), and explore the Parthenon. Also see the Kallimármaro Stadium, dating back to 330BC and restored for the first modern Olympic Games held here in 1896.
Journey out to Ancient Corinth this afternoon where the apostle Paul lived for almost two years, teaching the people the Word of God and converting many. On arrival we will view the Erastus inscription dating back to the first century AD and concerning a Christian convert, Erastus (Rom 16:23) who was the ‘director of public works’ in Corinth.
We visit the ancient ruins and see the site where he preached the Gospel from the Rostrum. See the Peirene fountain, and the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo before an outdoor Mass in this stunning pilgrimage setting.
Finally we come to Cenchreae, the ancient port from where St Paul said farewell to the believers and departed for Ephesus (Acts 18:18).
Athens overnight (BD)
DAY 15: THURSDAY – VIA HOSIOS LOUKAS TO METEORA
Theme: The Byzantines
We travel north today to the remarkable Byzantine Monastery of Hosios Loukas, built in the 11th century on the slopes of Mt Helikon. In 1990 UNESCO included this site on their World Heritage List. On arrival we will celebrate an outdoor Mass here in the grounds of the Monastery and be taken on a guided tour of the Churches, crypt and surrounds where we admire the amazing frescoes and mosaics.
We continue north this afternoon to the small town of Kalambaka built at the foot of the majestic grey rocks of Meteora.
Kalambaka overnight (BD)
DAY 16: FRIDAY – METEORA EXPLORATION
Theme: The Monastics
We spend some time today marvelling at this unique phenomenon of nature – 24 perpendicular rocks where 600 years ago Byzantine monks chose to worship God and build their cave-like Monastic community of Meteora. We will visit some of these living monasteries by foot and view the extraordinary collection of priceless religious frescoes and other treasures that will make this a remarkable day.
Enjoy some free time this afternoon.
Kalambaka overnight (BD)
DAY 17: SATURDAY - VIA BEROEA TO KAVALA
Theme: The Bereans
Today we journey north by coach to Beroea (modern Veria). The “Bema” - an impressive monument to Paul - is believed to incorporate the steps from the original synagogue from which he preached the gospel to the Jews, who welcomed the word of God and began to study the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-12).
A small church was established here and we will also view the ‘hidden churches’, a collection of about 20 Byzantine structures, camouflaged in the form of barns from the invading Ottoman Turks.
Continue east along the ancient route of the Apostle Paul to the port city of Kavala (ancient Neapolis), once named "Christoupolis" after being the first European city to accept Christianity. It was here that St Paul, St Timothy and St Silas first landed from Troas (Acts 16:11), one of the great moments in the history of Christianity.
Kavala overnight (BD)
DAY 18: SUNDAY – VIA PHILIPPI TO THESSALONIKI
Themes: The Philippians
Journey out to Philippi, named after Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. It was here that St Paul won his first European convert, a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira (Acts 16:12-40). Visit the Baptistery of Lydia for a beautiful outdoor Mass in this breathtaking oasis on the River Zygaktis, and to renew our Baptismal vows. Visit the market place (where St Paul and St Silas were brought before the rulers) and the cistern which tradition identifies as the place where St Paul was imprisoned. In the ancient theatre we will hear the story of Paul’s arrest, imprisonment and miraculous release.
We depart Philippi and journey east along the ancient route of the Apostle Paul via Amphipolis (Acts 17:1) where we view the ruins of many Christian basilicas.
Finally we arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, founded in 315 BC, and where St Paul preached during the winters of 49-50AD and wrote the two epistles to the ancient Thessalonians. It was here that he established the first Christian Church in Europe.
Thessaloniki overnight (BD)
DAY 19: MONDAY – THESSALONIKI & TRAVEL TO PATMOS
Theme: The Thessalonians
Our visit this morning will include the ramparts of the city, the triumphal Arch of Galerius, as well as the Rotunda where we can see pieces of the pulpit from which Paul preached. View the Roman Agora where he also preached. Nearby we shall visit St Demetrios’ Church dedicated to a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity, and was later martyred. View its valuable mosaics and frescoes before descending in to the crypt where we find the remains of some ancient Roman baths and streets.
We then ascend to the ‘ano poli’ (old town) to the Byzantine Vlatadon Monastery, built over Jason’s house (Acts 17:5) where Paul stayed during his time in Thessaloniki.
We will then be transferred to the airport for our flight to Athens. On arrival we will be transferred directly to the Athenian port of Piraeus to embark our deluxe boat transfer to the Dodecanese island of Patmos, where St John the Beloved wrote the Book of Revelation.
Patmos overnight (BD)
DAY 20: TUESDAY – PATMOS DAY
Theme: St John of Revelations
Lying between the islands of Leros and Ikaria is the 'ascetic shaped' Patmos, called the ‘Jerusalem of the Aegean’ due to the overwhelming atmosphere of the island during the great celebrations of Christianity.
We begin our day with a walking tour of the main square of the village of Chora. This is the traditional settlement and capital of Patmos, where the narrow streets were designed to ward off pirates over the centuries. Ascend to the Monastery of St John the Beloved, a huge fortress-like building dating from the 11th century, for a visit and celebration of Mass. Our exploration of this living monastery will culminate with time in the actual Cave of Revelation where God chose to reveal to St John the mysteries of the last book of the Bible - the Apocalypse. The cave is now at the foot of the monastery, which houses priceless icons and manuscripts, sacred relics, vestments embroiled with silver or gold threads and bejeweled with precious stones.
Later continue to the active Convent of Evangelismos (Annunciation) built by the hieromonk Nikiphoros who was cured from the plague after praying to St Luke the Evangelist. Visit the Convent of Zoodochos Pigi with icons dating from the 16th to the 18th century. Finally we will enjoy a short scenic tour of the island.
Patmos overnight (BD)
DAY 21: WEDNESDAY – PATMOS TO KUSADASI
Depart Patmos this morning by private Charter Vessel to Kusadasi, doorway to Ephesus, the Churches of Revelation and Gallipoli.
On arrival in Kusadasi we will be met and transferred by coach to our centrally located hotel for the remainder of the day at leisure.
Kusadasi overnight (BD)
DAY 22: THURSDAY – EPHESUS DAY
Theme: The Ephesians
We travel directly to Ephesus this morning, the most famous of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev 2:1-7) where St Paul spent more than two years in the course of his third missionary journey. It was to the Christian community of Ephesus that St Paul wrote his greatest and most challenging letter (the epistle to the Ephesians) and also succeeded in converting many away from worship of the god Artemis.
Our visit today will include the ruins where St Paul lived and preached. See the prison of St Paul; walk through the ancient marble streets founded in the 10th century BC and see this most 'complete’ Roman city providing us with an excellent window into Imperial Rome. Pass the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus, the enormous amphitheatre (Acts 19:29-31), and finally come to the ruins of the Christian Basilica where the Third Ecumenical Council took place in 431AD, and where Our Lady was proclaimed "Mother of God".
We ascend the hill to the House of the Virgin Mary where it is said Mary spent the later years of her life. We celebrate our group Mass here in one of the chapels. Finally we visit the restored remains of the 6th century Basilica of St John at Celcuk where a small church was originally built over the tomb of St John the Evangelist.
Kusadasi overnight (BD)
DAY 23: FRIDAY – DEPART TURKEY
Today we will be transferred to Izmir airport for our homebound flight connections or onward pilgrimage extensions. (B)
DAY 24: SATURDAY - IN TRANSIT
DAY 25: SUNDAY – ARRIVE AUSTRALIA
Optional 3 Night Malta Extension: DAY 23: FRIDAY - FLY TO MALTA
Today we will be transferred to Izmir airport for our flight connections to Malta. Upon arrival at Malta International Airport we will be met and transferred to our hotel for check-in. Christianity has existed almost 2,000 years in Malta, brought to the island by no less than the Apostle Paul himself in 60 AD.
Malta overnight (BD)
Optional 3 Night Malta Extension: DAY 24: SATURDAY – ST PAUL’S ISLAND – RABAT – MDINA
Today we proceed to St Paul’s Bay where a short boat trip takes us to the island where the Apostle was shipwrecked. After some time here we return to the mainland where we view St Paul’s Bonfire Church.
En route to Rabat visit the miraculous Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Mosta where during World War II a 500 kilogram bomb penetrated the dome and hit the inside of the church. Continue to Rabat to enter St Paul’s Grotto where St Paul lived during his short stay in Malta. We celebrate Mass here and visit the catacombs dedicated to him.
After a short walk into Mdina, visit St Paul’s Cathedral which will be another highlight of our day’s trip.
Malta overnight (BD)
Optional 3 Night Malta Extension: DAY 25: SUNDAY - GOZO DAY TRIP
Travel by ferry to the sister island of Gozo. Visit the Church of St John La Rotunda, and walk up the steps to the Gozo Citadel which is a medieval city and the capital of Gozo.
Visit St George’s Basilica, then on to the miraculous Ta'Pinu Shrine for Mass.
Malta overnight (BD)
Optional 3 Night Malta Extension: DAY 26: MONDAY - DEPART MALTA
Today we visit Valletta. After a drive around the city to admire its bastions, we enter the city by foot and see the Auberges built by the Knights and St John. We enter St John’s Co-Cathedral and view the impressive and miraculous Crucifix at Ta’Giezu Church. Continue to the St Paul Shipwreck Church where we will view two relics of St Paul.
Transfer to the airport in time for our homebound or ongoing flight connections. (B)
Optional 3 Night Malta Extension: DAY 27: TUESDAY – IN TRANSIT
Optional 3 Night Malta Extension: DAY 28: WEDNESDAY – ARRIVE AUSTRALIA
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