Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Fr. Longenecker is the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. A former Evangelical and Anglican priest, he is a popular blogger, author and conference speaker. Learn more about Fr. Longenecker at his website: dwightlongenecker.com.
Day 1. Thursday, September 6: Transatlantic flight
Board your flight to Amman, Jordan.
Day 2. Friday, September 7: Amman
After a late arrival in Amman, board your private motor-coach and transfer directly to your hotel.
Day 3. Saturday, September 8: Amman
Enjoy a free morning to rest from your transatlantic flight. In the afternoon, visit the ancient city of Jerash, inhabited since the Bronze Age and known for the ruins of the walled Greco-Roman settlement just outside the modern city. Between 400 and 600 AD the Christians built more than thirteen churches, many with superb mosaic floors, including the story of Noah, which was part of an ancient synagogue. Continue with a panoramic view of Amman where one can see an almost complete circuit of the city walls. Dinner and overnight in Amman. (BB, D)
Day 4. Sunday, September 9: Amman – Mt. Nebo – Madaba – Petra
While traveling from Amman to Petra, visit Mt. Nebo, where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. Continue for a visit to the Monastery of St. George in Madaba to see a 6th-century mosaic floor map of the Holy Land. Continue to view the high hill fort of Sela and the temple ruins at Khirbet Et-Tannur, one of the best-preserved and most intact examples of a Nabataean open-air sanctuary. Arrive in Petra for dinner and overnight. (BB, L, D)
Day 5. Monday, September 10: Petra
Enjoy a morning guided sightseeing of Petra. Walk through the “Siq,” an immense crack in the Nubian sandstone, which some say could be the very “rock” that Moses split in two and from which water poured forth. 2,000 years ago the Nabateans carved a city out of the rose red rock. Admire the Treasury, known as El Khazneh, one of the most elegant remains of antiquity. In the Old City of Petra one can see the ruins of an ancient pagan temple and many tombs carved into the rose red rock face. Next, visit the Monastery, for those able and willing to climb the 800 steps leading up to it. View the ancient passageways across the Arava Desert along the spice route leading to Port of Gaza, which most probably was taken by the Magi coming from the east heading toward Judea along the ancient roads. Dinner and overnight in Petra. (BB, L, D)
Day 6. Tuesday, September 11: Petra – Incense Route – Beersheba
Depart Petra south along Wadi Rum valley towards Aqaba, crossing the border near the Red Sea into Israel. Meet your local Israeli Christian guide and driver, and proceed along the Arava region to the incense road to Avdat, the largest of the Nabateans cities in the Negev desert. This would have been one of the main rest stops for the caravans traveling from Petra together with Memphis and Nizzana. Frankincense and myrrh were common goods traded along this incense route. Overnight and dinner in Beersheba. (BB, D)
Day 7. Wednesday, September 12: Beersheba – Herodion – Bethlehem – Jerusalem
This morning, depart Beersheba and head to the Judean hills. Along the way, stop at Herodion, the highest hill in the Judean desert upon which the largest Roman Palace in the 1st century AD was situated and which would later become Herod the Great’s Mausoleum. Visit the Palace, including the new excavations and the remains of Herod’s Burial Place. Continue for a visit to the Shepherds’ Field, where angels gave them the “tidings of great joy” of the birth of the Messiah. This afternoon, in Bethlehem visit the Church of the Nativity, housing the very spot where the Christ Child was born, and the nearby Milk Grotto where the Magi visited the newborn Messiah. Continue to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 8. Thursday, September 13: Jerusalem: Temple Mount, Israel Museum, Citadel of David
Start your morning with a visit to the Temple Mount, where the Jewish Temple stood at the time of Christ. Then, visit the nearby Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralytic. Visit the Church of St. Anne, built over the house where the Virgin Mary was born. On to visit the Israel Museum to see the model of Jerusalem on a scale of 1:50 that shows the city in the first century AD. Our next stop is the Citadel of David, walking up to the Phasael tower, the only edifice of 1st century AD Jerusalem that is still standing. Enjoy a great view of the city from this high point. Visit the newly-excavated remains of Herod’s twin palace. This may have been the very same palace where the Magi were summoned to meet the vicious King Herod who inquired about the newborn King. End the day with a visit to the Wailing Wall and western wall excavations, the holiest site for the Jewish people, and walk the very same streets that Jesus walked. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. (BB, D)
Day 9. Friday, September 14: Jerusalem: Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, and Ein Karem
Visit the Mount of Olives where Jesus so often retired for prayer. From here, take in the panoramic view of Jerusalem. Then to the Pater Noster shrine, where Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer. Walk down the Palm Sunday Road and stop at the beautiful little church, Dominus Flevit – “The Lord wept.” It was here that Jesus wept over Jerusalem. In Gethsemane, reflect on Jesus’ final night on this earth. The Garden contains trees whose roots go back to the time of Jesus. Visit the Church of All Nations to pray at the “Rock of Agony,” a section of bedrock identified as the place where Jesus prayed alone in the garden on the night of His arrest. From here, continue to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, where Our Lord was interrogated and imprisoned; this site is now called Peter in Gallicantu “crowing rooster.” This beautiful church also commemorates St. Peter’s denial of Christ. Continue to Mount Zion to visit the Upper Room, the location of the Last Supper and the institution of the priesthood and the Holy Eucharist. Nearby is the Benedictine Church of the Dormition. The location is identified in Christian tradition as the place where the Virgin Mary died — or “fell asleep,” as the name suggests. This afternoon, journey to Ein Karem, the hometown of St. John the Baptist, to visit his birth place and the Church of the Visitation where the Virgin Mary visited her cousin, St. Elizabeth. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. (BB, D)
Day 10. Saturday, September 15: Jerusalem: Way of the Cross – Baptismal Site – Jericho – Qumran – Dead Sea – Tiberias
Early in the morning, walk and pray in the very footsteps of Our Lord along the Via Dolorosa, concluding with Mass at the Holy Sepulcher Church. The 12th-century structure is located on the traditional site of Golgotha, the crucifixion and burial site of Our Lord. Return to your hotel for breakfast and check out. Continue to visit Jericho, one of the world’s oldest cities, for a distant view of the Mount of Temptations. It was here that Our Lord healed Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, and dined with Zaccheus, the rich tax collector. Visit Bet Arabah, the site of Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan River. Then visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered. Continue down to the Dead Sea to wade if desired. View from a distance the openings of the ancient caves where in the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Depart for Tiberias for dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 11. Sunday, September 16: Sea of Galilee
After breakfast, enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. After this, see the remains of a boat that dates from the time of Jesus, found buried deep in the mud of the Sea. Continue to the Mount of Beatitudes, the scene of Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount. Nearby is Tabgha, where Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 during the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Continue to the site known as “Peter’s Primacy.” Here, after His resurrection, Jesus met with His disciples and told St. Peter, “feed My lambs; feed My sheep.” Today’s lunch is the famous, traditional “St. Peter’s fish.” Afterwards, visit the remains of the fishing village of Magdala. It is assumed that St. Mary Magdalene was born here. In 2009 a chance discovery revealed a 1st century synagogue of Galilee. End the day at Capernaum, from where Jesus launched His public ministry. See the synagogue which dates to the time of Jesus and the church built over the site of St. Peter’s home. Dinner and overnight in Tiberias. (BB, L, D)
Day 12. Monday, September 17: Tiberias – Mount Tabor – Nazareth – Cana – Tel Aviv
Drive to Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration. Continue to Nazareth to visit the Church of the Annunciation, that houses the Grotto with remains of the house of the Blessed Virgin, where the Archangel St. Gabriel appeared and announced she would be the Mother of God. Then, visit the Church of St. Joseph, which tradition identifies as the workshop of St. Joseph and the house of the Holy Family. Following the “Pilgrims Path,” visit Mary’s Well, where often the Virgin Mary would have walked to draw water from the spring. Next in Cana visit the Franciscan Wedding Church, where couples will have the opportunity to participate in the ceremony to renew their wedding vows. Continue to Tel Aviv for a farewell dinner and overnight. (BB, FD)
Day 13. Tuesday, September 18: Homebound flight
Early this morning, catch your flight back to the US. (BB)
(BB) Buffet breakfast; (L) Lunch; (D) Buffet dinner; (FD) Farewell dinner
* In case of unforeseen events, this itinerary is subject to change.
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