Pilgrimage to the Holy Land Part 1 – Tiberius

Tiberius, Akko, Nazareth

Having been to the Holy Land 2 years ago, it was great that we were able to go again so soon.   Our tour guide described it as a privilege to visit the Holy Land and that every Christian should visit the “home” of their faith during their lifetime!  So, 34 of us set off on Wednesday 10th October from OLI, through Heathrow, out to Tel Aviv, and finally to the Hotel Golan on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Tiberius, at around midnight local time. 

Thursday 11th October:

Capernaum, the home of St. Peter, and the ancient synagogue

Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount (this is also where we had Mass). 

Multiplication of the loaves and fish in Tabgha.    The early Christians venerated a large rock (found today under the main altar of the church) upon which Jesus is said to laid the loaves and fish before feeding the five thousand. 

Primacy of Peter commemorated by a Franciscan chapel that incorporates part of a 4th-century church. It is located at Tabgha on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.  In John 21, Jesus appears to his disciples for the third time after his resurrection on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The night before, Peter and several other disciples had sailed out on the lake to fish, but caught nothing. In the morning, a man appeared on the shore and called out to them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. Doing so, they caught so many fish they couldn’t drag the net back into the boat.   At this point Peter recognizes Jesus, and promptly jumps out of the boat to wade to shore to meet him. The other disciples follow in the boat, dragging the net behind them. When they land, Jesus has prepared a charcoal fire for the fish and provided bread, and they have breakfast together (John 21:9). This is believed to have taken place on the Mensa Christi, a large rock incorporated in the chapel.   After breakfast, Jesus reinstated Peter (after his three-time denial of Jesus at the crucifixion) with the words “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-19). This is the event for which the modern church is named, which is interpreted by the Catholic Church to give the Pope (as the successor of Peter) authority over the worldwide Church.

Sea of Galilee.  After lunch we went for a cruise on the Sea of Galilee in a replica of a boat from Jesus’ time during which, rather oddly (although it did cause much amusement) they piped our National Anthem as they raised the Union Jack on the main mast!

Friday 12th October

Mount Carmel with the manicured Baha’I Gardens which comprise a staircase of nineteen terraces extending all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, stands on the central terrace, looking across the bay towards ‘Akko.

Stella Maris, the largest Carmelite Monastery and Centre of the World Order with views over Haifa.   The church contains the cave where the Prophet Elijah lived.

Akko (or Acre), a Crusader stronghold still honeycombed with the ruins left behind by more than two centuries of European forays in the Holy Land – as well as evidence of Napoleon’s ill-fated naval assault on the city.  We walked through the Old City taking in the sights and sounds of the Oriental Market and the port.

Saturday 13th October

Mount Tabor, the site of the transfiguration of Christ.  There have been many churches on this site marking the Transfiguration, the current one being built in 1924 belonging to the Franciscans.  From the summit the views over the Armageddon Valley are spectacular

Cana the site of Jesus first miracle where the married couples amongst us renewed their marriage vows.  The Church of the Miracle built in 1879 over the ruins of a sixth century sanctuary, which in turn was built over the site of the village synagogue, which is believed to the site of The Wedding.   In the crypt is one of the massive stone jars (there would have been 6 in total) which Jesus used to turn the water into wine. 

The Church of the Synagogue, Nazareth.  This is where Jesus preached (Luke 4:16): He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.  He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Basilica of Annunciation.   Containing thehome of Mary. This is site where the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of God.

The Church of St Joseph.  The current church was built in 1914 on the site of an earlier 12th century church.  The caves, wells and granaries in the lower levels were used by the early dwellers of Nazareth.  It is also the site of the carpentry shop and home of St Joseph. 

From here we travelled on to Jerusalem for 2 nights (see Part 2). 

Andrew Richardson