Footsteps of Jesus
14 Day Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with optional Jordan 3 Nights Extension
Walk upon the sacred lands on which Jesus lived. Behold with your eyes that which your mind has for so long attempted to imagine. Discover the Word of God in ways you have never thought possible. Watch the Gospels come alive on this most authentic faith journey live on location in the Holy Land. Take the chronological road of Jesus’ life from Bethlehem to Nazareth and Galilee to Jerusalem as we prepare for a powerful encounter into the heart of His passion.
Dead Sea (2 Nights) / Jericho / Bethlehem (2) / Nazareth / Cana / Sea of Galilee (3) / Caesarea Philippi / Mt Tabor / Mt Carmel / Haifa / Caesarea Maritima / Jerusalem (4). Wonders of Jordan Optional Extension: Masada / Aqaba (1) / The Red Sea / Wadi Rum Desert Adventure / Petra exploration (2) / Madaba
MEAL CODE: B: Breakfast L: Lunch D: Dinner
Theme: Glimpsing the Promised Land
Arrive today into Jordan’s capital Amman. Travel west by coach to ascend Biblical Mt Nebo for a spectacular opening Mass. Here, at the site where the Old Testament opened its door to the land of the New, Moses looked over into the Promised Land and blessed Joshua who was to lead the Israelites under God’s protection (Joshua 1:6-9). Also see the stunning collection of Byzantine mosaics preserved within the shrine.
His Holiness Benedict XVI, on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2009, said this while here on Mt Nebo: “Here, on the heights of Mount Nebo, the memory of Moses invites us to ‘lift up our eyes’ to embrace with gratitude not only God's mighty works in the past, but also to look with faith and hope to the future which he holds out to us and to our world.” We too can seize this opportunity to thank God for our journey as we anticipate the blessings to come in the days that follow.
We continue to our hotel on the shores of the Dead Sea. Here we will unwind and take the ideal opportunity to float in the salty waters said to have healing qualities.
Dead Sea overnight (D)
Theme: Baptism of Love
In the morning we make a visit to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, one of the most recent archaeological and religious discoveries. The five springs here form a tributary of the Jordan River and are believed to be the Baptismal site of Jesus by John the Baptist. Here we remember the powerful commission from the Fatherly voice of Heaven: ‘This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’ (Mt 3:17). So authentic is this site that Pope Francis chose this as an essential place to visit on his last pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Journey east this morning for a deeply moving mission encounter at the makeshift Syrian & Iraqi Refugee Centre where Melkite priest Fr Sharayha and his flock have welcomed more than 100 Chaldean Christian refugees from Mosul into their church compound. We aim to meet some of the refugees and talk with Fr Sharayha who will speak of their plight and the ultimatum they were given to convert or leave their homeland immediately without taking any of their possessions!
We return to our Dead Sea hotel this afternoon to reflect on our morning and to rest up for the days of pilgrimage that lie ahead.
Dead Sea overnight (BD)
Theme: Travellers from the East
This morning we farewell Jordan and cross over the border into the Holy Land of Israel, affectionately known by Christians as the land of the fifth Gospel. Continue on to nearby Jericho the ‘City of Palms’ and said to be the oldest inhabited city in the world dating back to the first hunter-gatherers around 9000 BC.
Before departing Jericho we stop at the famous Sycamore tree used to commemorate the story of the tax collector Zacchaeus who climbed the tree to see Jesus, only to be singled out above the crowds. (Lk 19:1-10).
Across the valley we view the Mt of Temptation, where Christ was tempted by the devil during his 40 day fast. Travelling west through the dry rocky landscape of the Judean Desert there are enough stones to illustrate Satan’s words “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves” (Mt 4:3).
Journey up to the spectacular lookout as we view the St George’s Monastery - a cliff hanging 5th century complex carved into a sheer rock wall and still occupied today.
Onwards along the Jericho Road we come to Bethany, a favourite place of rest and refuge for Jesus. Here too we relive the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:1-44).
Finally we arrive into Bethlehem, the City of David and the birthplace of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ where we literally begin our journey in the Footsteps of Jesus.
Bethlehem overnight (BD)
Theme: The Birth of Jesus
We firstly travel out to Ein Karem, the birthplace of St John the Baptist and Church of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth “Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” (Lk 1:43). Pilgrims may choose to pray a mystery of the Rosary here as we walk up to this church dedicated to ‘The Magnificat’ – ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord’ (Lk 1:46). From here we come to the Church of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, built over a natural grotto to the left of the altar, identified as his actual birthplace.
Returning to Bethlehem, we enjoy a fascinating visit to Bethlehem University to engage with local students in discussion before visiting the beautiful chapel and Cultural Heritage Centre within the grounds. To cap off our visit, the students from the Hotel Management Institute will prepare and host a special home cooked meal for lunch.
Continue to Shepherd's Field to celebrate Mass in a local cave to commemorate the appearance of the angels to the shepherds on that first Christmas night (Lk 2:8–16).
Our day will culminate at the Church of the Nativity, the oldest complete church in the Christian world (6th century) and birthplace of Jesus. Bow low and enter the grotto through the Door of Humility as we descend to the Holy Manger where a silver star in the floor marks the actual spot where Jesus was born. The star’s inscription reads in Latin: Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus Natus Est (Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ was born). Finally we come to St Jerome’s Cave where in 386 AD the saint spent 30 years translating the scriptures from Hebrew into Greek and Latin producing the first vernacular version of the Bible!
Bethlehem overnight (BLD)
Theme: The Formative Years of Jesus
We farewell Bethlehem this morning and journey directly north to Nazareth, the town of Jesus’ childhood. Firstly come to nearby Nazareth Village, an authentic non-profit re-creation of the village life of Nazareth as in the days of Jesus. Here we will take a parable-rich walk back in time along the path which brings to life the environment and atmosphere which shaped Jesus’ early years and ministry. Complete our memorable visit with a fascinating first-century meal in a stone-dining area typical of the days of Christ.
Back in Nazareth township, enter inside the Basilica of the Annunciation where a traditional cave becomes the focal point as we ponder Mary’s response “Let it be done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). After celebrating Mass we will visit the nearby Church of St Joseph before entering the nearby Synagogue Church, a Crusader structure said to be built on the site of the synagogue where Jesus read the Messianic passage in Isaiah 61 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” ...
Travel on to the village of Cana this afternoon where Jesus, at the request of His Mother, performed his first miracle transforming the water into wine at the wedding feast (Jn 2:1-11). Here, married couples may take the opportunity to renew their wedding vows, and single and widowed pilgrims will receive a special blessing.
Journey east to Tiberias on the shores of Lake Galilee … “Go to Galilee and you will find him there” (Mt 28:7).
Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD)
Theme: The Public Ministry of Jesus
Arise and set out on a spectacular day of pilgrimage beginning with Capernaum, the once fishing village of the first apostles Peter, Andrew, James & John which also became the home town of Jesus and the scene of many of his miracles. Here he worshipped and taught in the synagogue where he promised the Eucharist by saying: ‘I am the bread of life … unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you‘ (John 6:48-53).
Continue on to Nof Ginosar Kibbutz, within which is preserved the 1st century ‘Jesus boat’ painstakingly raised and restored from the muddy lakebed in 1986.
Set off from here on a traditional sailing vessel for a spectacular Harvest highlight – a Private Mass in the centre of Lake Galilee. Here we will float in quiet tranquillity and reflect upon the miracles of Jesus calming the storm and appearing to the apostles walking on this very water.
Continue back to the shore to enjoy a traditional ‘St Peter’s fish’ lunch to commemorate our Galilee experience.
Journey north around the lake to remember the Galilean cities of Bethsaida and Korazim cursed by Jesus. These two cities along with Capernaum became known as the ‘evangelical triangle’ because most of Jesus’ teachings and miracles occurred there. In Korazim we will enter the 3rd century synagogue constructed of local black basalt stone.
Finally we come to Tabgha, site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mt 14:20) and pray within the 4th century church displaying Byzantine mosaics considered to be some of the best in the Holy Land. Beneath the altar is the rock believed to be where Jesus placed the loaves and fish before blessing them.
Sea of Galilee overnight (BLD)
Theme: The Word Proclaimed
We begin our day at the Mount of Beatitudes for Mass as we take time in this special place to ponder Jesus’ message of happiness – the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1–12). Surrounded by prayerful gardens overlooking the north western shore of Lake Galilee, the eight sides of the Church represent the eight beatitudes given by Jesus.
From here we journey north today to Caesarea Philippi near the base of Mt Hermon, where the springs of Banias form the source of the Jordan River. In this tranquil place Jesus spent some quiet time with his disciples and later commissioned Peter “And I tell you, you are Peter and on this Rock I will build my church” (Mt 16:13).
Departing the Golan Heights we then travel south to the foot of Mt Tabor before ascending by taxis up the narrow winding road leading to the majestic summit. Here Our Lord’s divinity shone forth in the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-2). After some time to reflect in this breathtaking setting we will better understand Peter’s words ‘Lord it is good for us to be here’. Return to Tiberias for rest before dinner.
Sea of Galilee overnight (BD)
Theme: Faith and Grace
We farewell our time in the Galilee with Mass at the Church of the Primacy of Peter down by the shores of the lake. Here Jesus challenged Peter and each one of us ‘Do you really love me, feed my sheep’.
We stop briefly at Magdala to commemorate the town of Mary Magdalene before continuing west to Haifa, the largest city in Northern Israel. Here the Mediterranean Sea wraps around three sides of Haifa with intoxicating blue and gold beaches. In this region we come to the Stella Maris Monastery at Mount Carmel where in the lower cave, Elijah was said to have meditated on his victory over the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:1-40).
We then make our way to the House of Grace, a Catholic ministry that works with the most marginalised members of Haifa: Christians, Jews and Muslims who are in need of counselling, guidance, and material aid. Here we will share lunch and hear an inspired talk about this powerful ministry to rehabilitate released prisoners.
Travel south to the crusader port of Caesarea Maritima, built by Herod the Great. The centurion Cornelius was baptized here by Peter, becoming the first gentile convert to Christianity (Acts 10). Also see the harbour from which St Paul was taken to Rome.
Finally we journey on and up to Jerusalem – the City of our God.
Jerusalem overnight (BLD)
Theme: The Passion of Jesus
Begin our Jerusalem pilgrimage as we proceed up to the Mt of Olives to visit the ‘Pater Noster’ Church where Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer (Mt 6:7–15). Enjoy a panoramic view and photographic opportunity over the city. Walk down the Palm Sunday Road as pilgrims to the Dominus Flevit Church for Mass, built on the site where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Lk 19:41–44).
We then come down to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we will enter the Church of the Agony containing the rock upon which Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. Prepare then for a memorable pilgrim highlight as we move to the private garden for a secluded time of prayer and reflection surrounded by ancient olive trees.
From here we set out by coach across town to the Israel Museum for a lunch break. Continue then on a fascinating outdoor orientation viewing of the Second Temple Scale Model of Jerusalem as it was in the time of Jesus. In the adjacent Shrine of the Book Museum we view the Dead Sea Scrolls with our own eyes.
Finally today we come to Mt Zion to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas and into the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu commemorating Peter’s triple denial of Jesus. On its roof rises a golden rooster atop a black cross recalling Christ’s prophecy that Peter would deny him three times ‘before the cock crows’.
Jerusalem overnight (BD)
Theme: The Passion of Jesus
Return to Mt Zion this morning, described by the psalmist as ‘holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, the joy of all the earth’ (Ps 48). We firstly enter the Cenacle room of the Last Supper (Upper Room) where we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the later descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. After time here to sit and reflect we will continue to the Church of the Dormition identified as the place where the Virgin Mary died or ‘fell asleep’ as the name suggests.
We then come to the vicinity of the Temple Mount to view the Dome of the Rock, El Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall (once known as the Wailing Wall).
Enjoy some free time this afternoon to rest, pray or explore the Old City at your own pace. Alternatively, pilgrims are encouraged to consider a sobering visit to the Yad Vashem (Holocaust History Museum) to learn about the tragic events where six million Jewish victims lost their lives during the atrocities of World War II. Return coach transfers available.
Before dinner we will meet with representatives from the Bereaved Families Forum in our hotel meeting room. Here we will take the opportunity to listen to the courageous stories of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian family members as they share their extraordinary journey of loss on the path of true reconciliation.
Jerusalem overnight (BD)
Theme: The Death & Resurrection of Jesus
Arise very early this morning as we return to the Old City of Jerusalem to commence our Stations of the Cross, beginning from the Antonia Fortress where Jesus was condemned to death. We pray and follow in Our Lord’s footsteps along the actual Via Dolorosa to culminate at the site of Calvary where we will celebrate Mass here in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Walk the stairway climbing to the actual site where the Cross of Jesus once stood. The glass panels reveal the natural rock below which we may come to touch with our pilgrim hands. Also enter the Tomb of Christ, the site believed to be where Our Lord lay buried for three days before rising from the dead.
After breakfast back at our hotel we re-enter the Old City precinct to the Church of St Anne, said to be built over the birthplace of the Virgin Mary. Continue to the adjacent Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralysed man (Jn 5:2–9). See the Lithostrotos (pavement) in the Ecce Homo convent and the Flagellation and Condemnation Chapels which so vividly commemorate the last hours of Jesus’ life.
Continue this morning to Emmaus (Abu Gosh) where the Disciples recognised the risen Jesus at the breaking of bread and exclaimed “Did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us on the road?” (Lk 24:13-35). We enter here through the gardens of this Benedictine church built by the Crusaders and take time to reflect with gratitude on the Lord’s companionship with us along the road of our past days of pilgrimage.
Time for rest mid afternoon before we experience the spectacular Holy Shroud Exhibit in the Notre Dame Centre where pilgrims will gain a deeper understanding of Christ’s suffering and resurrection, while viewing a full size replica of the Holy Shroud housed in Turin.
For our final night together, we will enjoy a Special Celebration Dinner with spectacular views over all of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem overnight (BD)
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 morning as we are taken east by coach back into Jordan and onto Amman airport for our homebound or ongoing flight connections. (B)
After our final group ceremony to commemorate the Ascension of Jesus upon the Mt of Olives, we travel along the Jericho Road as we remember the parable of the Good Samaritan and journey through desert hills and dry rocky landscape. Soon our coach will pause to view the site of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd boy.
We journey south along the Dead Sea to the historical Masada where, on arrival, we will embark on the cable car offering spectacular scenery to the summit. Here we will enjoy a guided tour of Herod’s fortress and the Zealot’s last stand. The view across the Dead Sea 450 metres below is breathtaking.
Continue south today through the southern border crossing to ancient Aqaba in Jordan. Located on the northern tip of the Red Sea, Aqaba dates back 5,500 years and is at the junction of land and sea routes from Asia, Africa and Europe. We check in to our delightful hotel located on the shores of the sea.
Aqaba overnight (BD)
Enjoy a leisurely morning at our resort by the Red Sea.
We then travel east to Wadi Rum to experience something of the vastness and beauty of this desert region. A moonscape of ancient valleys and towering weathered sandstone mountains rise out of the pink and white coloured sand. Here at dusk we will witness the stunning grandeur of this place made famous in the film Lawrence of Arabia.
Join the adventure of a Bedouin-driven jeep ride deep into the valley to witness a sunset like no other before returning to base for dinner.
Continue north this evening to the magnificent ancient trading city of Petra known as the ‘Red Rose City’ and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Here we are positioned in the biblical land of Edom (Judges 11:17-18) for the next two nights.
Petra overnight (BD)
Enjoy an unforgettable guided walking tour this morning of the ruins through ancient Petra – the city that the Nabateans carved out of solid rock dating back to 300 BC! Our visit will follow a passage through the Siq, a chasm created in a prehistoric earthquake. It is one of the special moments to walk through this canyon which dramatically opens up to reveal the Treasury Building (Al-Khazneh) - a never to be forgotten experience. We will see also the Roman Theatre, Corinthian tomb along with churches, homes and many other buildings from this fascinating period.
The remainder of the afternoon will be at leisure.
Petra overnight (BD)
After a leisurely breakfast we travel north along the Biblical Kings Highway to visit St Georges Church in Madaba with its precious 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land comprised of more than two million pieces.
Finally we take the last leg of our journey to Amman airport for our homebound flight connections. (B)
NB. An additional mandatory prepaid tipping fund of $15 per day per person will be invoiced in advance by Harvest to avoid regular inconvenience to pilgrims on tour.
Full package based on departure from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth including all airline taxes and levies (subject to change). Tour Only costs include local internal airfares between Start/End dates. Refer to our full price inclusions and Booking Procedures for more information.