We’re at the halfway mark of our 11-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We’ve walked cobblestone streets, climbed ancient steps, lit candles, danced on a boat in the Sea of Galilee, dined on Peter’s Fish, toured ancient Magdala, and literally walked in the footsteps of Jesus, hiking part of the 2,000-year-old path that connects Nazareth and Tiberias — a route that scholars say Jesus traveled.
From the morning we arrived, we knew we were in for something amazing. We pulled open the curtains in our hotel room, and this is what we saw and heard.
As I write this on Monday morning, March 13th, we’re waking up in Bethlehem. The Muslim call to prayer is echoing outside. I have a little over an hour before we need to go downstairs for breakfast and begin another adventure — heading to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.
It’s impossible to summarize in the limited time I have just how extraordinary a visit to the Holy Land can be. But here are a few snapshots from our travels so far, in no particular order.
We visited the stunning archeological dig at Magdala — unearthed just a few years ago — and saw the remnants of a synagogue where Jesus preached.
We celebrated Mass at Mount Tabor, a site that tradition holds was the place of the Transfiguration.
One day, we took a memorable boat trip across the Sea of Galilee.
Among other things, we danced.
We ate. A lot. The food on this journey has been incredible. One of our stops: a restaurant serving a staple for these trips, Peter’s Fish.
It comes complete with head and a lot of bones.
We went to Capernaum, Jesus’s hometown, and saw the ruins of a synagogue built atop the synagogue where he taught.
Yesterday, we traveled to Caesarea Maritima, to see the amazing theater — and an even more dramatic find, the recently discovered prison where St. Paul was held captive.
I had the privilege of serving Sunday Mass and preaching at Stella Maris at Mount Carmel.
Stella Maris has an extraordinary sacristy — YUGE — with prayer books set out in every imaginable language, for all the pilgrim Masses.
There’s even more that I want to write about, but time doesn’t permit — stuff like visiting the Mount of the Beatitudes, seeing the place of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, catching a glimpse of Herod’s pool (“Prove to me that you’re no fool / walk across my swimming pool…”) and much more. I hope I can share that soon.
Meanwhile, another day awaits. What a journey it has been. And we have so much more to see. Please pray for us as we pray for you!