Fr. Francis Lucas
December 20, 2020
Holy Land & Optional Italy
“Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” Luke 2: 13-16
Like the shepherds that hurried off to find Him on whom God’s favor rests, celebrate this Christmas in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, on a special 14-day Christmas Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Optional Rome Extension with Fr. Francis Lucas leaving on December 2020.
Christmas in the Holy Land is unlike Christmas anywhere else in the world. Walk the ancient streets of Jerusalem and participate in the numerous festivities of the Season. Join a Christmas Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Optional Rome Extension with Fr. Francis Lucas leaving on December 2020. May this pilgrimage be a meaningful journey to encounter Jesus and to celebrate this joyous occasion in the land of His Birth.
Magdala is believed to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. This ancient city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee was a prosperous fishing village at the time Jesus...Magdala
Magdala is believed to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene.
This ancient city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee was a prosperous fishing village at the time Jesus was active in this region. It was fortified and severely damage during the great revolt against the Romans. The archaeologists uncovered the remains of the village dating from the time of Jesus, and large Byzantine monastery.
Nazareth is the cradle of Christianity. Nazareth, or Natsrat as its name is pronounced in Hebrew, is the city where, according to tradition, the angel Gabriel told Mary that she...Nazareth
Nazareth is the cradle of Christianity.
Nazareth, or Natsrat as its name is pronounced in Hebrew, is the city where, according to tradition, the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the place where Jesus spent his childhood and youth. Nazareth, in the lower Galilee, is located in the heart of a valley surrounded by mountains that embrace several of the most important Christian sites in the world. This is a city of religion and faith, of spirituality and holiness, but also a city with a rich history, fascinating archaeology, modern culture and Middle Eastern charm.
The city of Tiberias is known as the “City of Water.” Built along the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), near 17 natural hot springs, the northern Israeli city...Tiberias
The city of Tiberias is known as the “City of Water.”
Built along the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), near 17 natural hot springs, the northern Israeli city of Tiberias is known as the “City of Water.” It was named in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
Tiberius is one of the four Jewish Holy cities, and the capital of the Galilee. It has a long history since it was established in the early Roman period. It was the Jewish people’s political and religious hub as well as the center of Jewish spiritual creativity. Tiberius has historically been known for its hot springs, believed to cure skin and other ailments, for thousands of years.
Mount Tabor is the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Mount Tabor rises 575 meters above sea level at the eastern edge of the Jezreel Valley. Also known as the...Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor is the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus.
Mount Tabor rises 575 meters above sea level at the eastern edge of the Jezreel Valley. Also known as the Mount of Transfiguration, it is the traditional site of the Transfiguration described in the Synoptic Gospels, when Jesus became radiant, spoke with Moses and Elijah, and was called “Son” by God (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:1-8, Luke 9:28-36.). Two churches on top of the mountain commemorate the Transfiguration– an impressive Franciscan church built on the ruins of Byzantine and Crusaders churches, and a modest Greek Orthodox church named for the prophet Elijah.
Capernaum became Jesus’ home town and the scene of many of his miracles. Capernaum is an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel....Capernaum
Capernaum became Jesus’ home town and the scene of many of his miracles.
Capernaum is an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It is also the home of the first disciples Jesus called – the fisherman Peter, Andrew, James and John, and the tax collector Matthew.
It is home to a celebrated Byzantine-era synagogue as well as the house where Jesus healed a paralytic and St. Peter’s mother-in-law.
Capernaum is frequently mentioned in the Gospels and was Jesus’ main base during his Galilean ministry. It is referred to as Jesus’ “own city” (Mt 9:1; Mk 2:1) and a place where he lived (Mt 1:13). He probably chose it simply because it was the home of his first converts, Peter and Andrew (Mk 1:21, 29).
In the Bible, much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee lies roughly 650 feet below sea level and...Sea of Galilee
In the Bible, much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
The Sea of Galilee lies roughly 650 feet below sea level and is 14 miles long and 7 1/2 miles wide at its widest point. The Sea is the major source of fresh water for the entire country. The Sea, really a lake, lies on the ancient “Via Maris,” a route that linked Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Jesus recruited four of his apostles – Peter, Andrew, John and James – from the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Many of his miracles are also said to have occurred here including his walking on water, calming the storm, the disciples and the miraculous catch of fish, and his feeding 5,000 people in Tabgha. In the gospel of John, the sea provides the setting for Jesus’ third post-resurrection appearance to his disciples.
Cana in Galilee is celebrated as the scene of Jesus’ first miracle. Cana is the traditional site of the wedding feast where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water...Cana
Cana in Galilee is celebrated as the scene of Jesus’ first miracle.
Cana is the traditional site of the wedding feast where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). It is also mentioned later in John as a place where Jesus heals a royal official’s son (John 4:46) and the hometown of disciple Nathaneal (also called Bartholomew) (John 21:2).
The Franciscan Wedding Church was built in 1879 on the traditional site of the wedding feast where ancient stone jars were discovered. It is possible for couples to renew their wedding vows here, with a certificate available in a variety of languages.
The Mount of Beatitudes is the setting for Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:1-11). Overlooking the north western shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes is...Mount of Beatitudes
The Mount of Beatitudes is the setting for Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:1-11).
Overlooking the north western shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes is one of the most beautifully serene places in the Holy Land. Pilgrims have been drawn to this scenic place since at least the 4th century.
Designed by the architect A. Barluzzi, the Catholic Church on the Mount of Beatitudes is Byzantine in style. Its octagonal shape represents the eight beatitudes. It has a marble veneer casing the lower walls and gold mosaic in the dome.
The chief attraction here, though, is the setting. The cool and quiet gardens overlooking the Sea of Galilee and the landscape where Jesus conducted his ministry make an excellent place to contemplate some of the best-known Christian teachings.
Tabgha is best known for Christ’s miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish to feed a multitude. (Matthew 14:13-21) But it is also remembered for Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples...Tabgha
Tabgha is best known for Christ’s miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish to feed a multitude. (Matthew 14:13-21)
But it is also remembered for Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection, when he tested and commissioned St. Peter as leader of his Church.
Two churches commemorate these events, and pilgrims find the place a serene location for meditation, prayer and study.
Tabgha is at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes, about 3km south-west of Capernaum. This was a favorite spot for fishermen from nearby Capernaum, and its beach was familiar to Jesus and his disciples. It is easy to imagine Jesus speaking from a boat in one of the little bays, with crowds sitting around on the shore.
The Jordan River is the scene of Jesus Christ being baptized by John the Baptist. The Jordan River originates approximately 200 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mount...Jordan River
The Jordan River is the scene of Jesus Christ being baptized by John the Baptist.
The Jordan River originates approximately 200 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mount Hermon, Israel. It ends its course at the lowest spot in the world, the Dead Sea, at 420 meters below sea level.
John the Baptist prepared the people for the coming of the Messiah when he baptized them in the waters of the Jordan River (Matt 3:5 ff; Mk 1:5 ff).
Jesus Himself was also baptized by John in the Jordan River near Bethany (John 1:28-33). Hence, it is considered to be one of the world’s most sacred rivers.
Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The city of Bethlehem is located about six miles, southwest of Jerusalem. Meaning “house of bread,” Bethlehem was also the renowned City of...Bethlehem
Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
The city of Bethlehem is located about six miles, southwest of Jerusalem. Meaning “house of bread,” Bethlehem was also the renowned City of David. It was there in young David’s hometown that the prophet Samuel anointed him to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16: 1-13) And in Micah 5, the prophet foretold that Messiah would come from the small and seemingly insignificant town of Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is home to one of the most sacred Christian sites in the world. Built by Constantine the Great (circa 330 AD), the Church of the Nativity still stands over a cave believed to be the very spot where Jesus was born. The place of the manger is marked by a 14-pointed silver star, called the Star of Bethlehem.
Jesus Christ fulfilled his divine mission in the city of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem’s heart is the Old City, which is surrounded by a wall and divided into four quarters –...Jerusalem
Jesus Christ fulfilled his divine mission in the city of Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem’s heart is the Old City, which is surrounded by a wall and divided into four quarters – Jewish, Armenian, Christian, and Muslim. Inside the walls are the important holy sites of the three major religions: the Western Wall, which is holy to the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
Jerusalem is also very important to Christianity, as Jesus Christ lived and died here. One of the most prominent and important sites in the Christian quarter is the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Sorrows,” Jesus’ final path, where he was crucified and buried.
Ein Karem is the birthplace of John the Baptist. In a peaceful valley between mountains and hills, surrounded by the beauty of natural groves, nestles one of Jerusalem’s most picturesque...Ein Kerem
Ein Karem is the birthplace of John the Baptist.
In a peaceful valley between mountains and hills, surrounded by the beauty of natural groves, nestles one of Jerusalem’s most picturesque neighborhoods – Ein Kerem.
Ein Kerem is a pilgrimage site for many Christian visitors, who come here year after year. According to Christian tradition, this is where Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, miraculously became pregnant. This is also where he was born. Tradition teaches that during her pregnancy, Elizabeth was visited by a family relative – Mary, who was also pregnant, with Jesus. The two women met beside the village well and Mary drank from its cool waters. That place is now called Mary’s Well.
The Church of the Visitation is reached by steps up from the main road through the village. In the church courtyard, one wall is covered with ceramic tiles bearing the words of the Magnificat in 42 languages.
Said to be built over the home of John the Baptist’s parents, the Church of the Visitation stands high up on the hillside of Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.
Jericho is believed to be one of, if not the oldest cities in the world. According to Jewish tradition, after the Israelites’ 40-year sojourn in the desert, Joshua decides the...Jericho
Jericho is believed to be one of, if not the oldest cities in the world.
According to Jewish tradition, after the Israelites’ 40-year sojourn in the desert, Joshua decides the first city in Canaan he will conquer is Jericho. God tells him that he will be victorious and instructs Joshua to have his troops march around the walls of the city once a day for six days.
On the seventh day, the troops are supposed to circle the city seven more times, then the priests are ordered to blow their horns and the soldiers to shout, and the walls of the city, God tells Joshua, will tumble down. This is precisely what happens according to the Bible (Joshua 6).
Jericho sits between Mt. Nebo in the east, the Central Mountains to the west and the Dead Sea to the south.
Found in Qumran are the Dead Sea Scrolls. Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the...Qumran
Found in Qumran are the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalia.
Found in Qumran are the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is a collection of 972 texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 that consists of biblical manuscripts from what is now known as the Hebrew Bible and extra- biblical documents found on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name. They were located specifically at Khirbet Qumran in what has been known as the West Bank. The texts are of great historical, religious and linguistic significance and include the earliest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents.
The Dead Sea, also known as the Salt Sea, is the lowest point on earth. The Dead Sea in Hebrew as Yam Ha-Melakh (the Sea of Salt) is the lowest...Dead Sea
The Dead Sea, also known as the Salt Sea, is the lowest point on earth.
The Dead Sea in Hebrew as Yam Ha-Melakh (the Sea of Salt) is the lowest point on earth in any land mass (417 meters below sea level, to be exact), surrounded by stunning landscape of the Negev Desert.
The quantity of water that evaporates from it is greater than that which flows into it, such that this body of water has the highest concentration of salt in the world (340 grams per liter of water).
It is called the Dead Sea because its salinity prevents the existence of any life forms in the lake. That same salt, on the other hand, provides tremendous relief to the many ailing visitors who come here on a regular basis to benefit from its healing properties. All these and more make the Dead Sea so fascinating, so different and so interesting.
Emmaus was the setting for one of Christ’s post Resurrection appearances. The village of Emmaus was the setting for one of the most touching of Christ’s post- Resurrection appearances. The...Emmaus
Emmaus was the setting for one of Christ’s post Resurrection appearances.
The village of Emmaus was the setting for one of the most touching of Christ’s post- Resurrection appearances.
The Emmaus story is well-known: Two disciples downcast by the death of Jesus, and confused by reports that his body is missing, are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They encounter a stranger who listens to their concerns, then gives them a Scripture lesson that makes their “hearts burn within them”.
Finally, as they share the evening meal, he breaks bread and they recognized him. By then the risen Christ has disappeared from their sight, and they immediately hurry back to Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-35).
The whole pilgrimage is a new and fulfilling moment in my life. It’s a nice feeling being with the Lord in His important day. And also, gaining new friends and becoming my new extended family is something I will treasure. I hope that this is just the beginning and we’ll continue to get in touch with one another despite the distance.Brenda
It was indeed a wonderful Pilgrimage: very rich in history, a thanksgiving of blessings, a spiritual renewal and nourishment, and finally ending in a test of Faith.
Thank you so much Pilgrim Leader, Ging Igual, for standing beside us up to the last stretch of our 13-day journey - more particularly in the handling of an unexpected situation (cancelled flight in Mexico and re-direction of flights to make sure the 38 Pilgrims reach LA for their respective flight bookings). Ging, you were an angel to us so blessed with energy, passion, love and Milagrosa. We really felt the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe fielding angels every step of the way.
The Pilgrimage to California Mission Churches and Our Lady of Guadalupe gives me personal inspiration for the work and activities of the next chapter of my lifetime: farming with promotion of agriculture for millennials (inspired by the scenic view of farms in California), tourism (which is a major industry in all places we visited), and support for a favourite major seminary in Tagaytay and a scholarship fund for deserving individuals (thru a non stock non profit institution).
Thank you to my Co-Pilgrims and prayer partners for the prayer support, sharing of life experiences and friendships; Fr. Tony, thank you for your spiritual reflections and service; Fr. Jerry Orbos for an overflowing spiritual reflections and enabling us to have the needed personal encounter with Jesus and Mama Mary (it was like a 12-day Holy Retreat); and the Executive Resources for making a very nice pilgrimage package a part of our lifetime.Ms. Emma
Lord, we cannot find words enough to say how grateful we are to You. Our pilgrimage made us realize that Your love for us is more than what we deserve.
To all our co-pilgrims, thank you for making us feel we belong to this new family. To Fr. Dante, thanks for your prayers and pieces of advice for our spiritual nourishment. To Sis Lea, for taking care of each one of us. To Sis Joy, thanks for the contagious joys and laughters.
To our prayer partners, Sis Maribel, Melvy and Didick and Bro Mon and Sis Jot, thank you for your prayers. We will pray for you, too!
To The Pilgrim’s Center - Executive Resources, thank you for accommodating us in this Eastern Europe Pilgrimage.
God bless us all always!Albert and Adee
Dear Pilgrims' Center:
My husband Aldo & I would like to praise & commend our Pilgrim Chaplain Fr. Dante Venus & our Tour Leader Bro. Monty for the very successful & memorable pilgrimage to Italy & the Holy Land we were very fortunate to join on March 26-April 8, 2018.
It was very hectic to be sure, but still they managed our time very well that we were able to visit more places than was promised in the itinerary, and we are very appreciative of that. Likewise, the solemnity of the whole pilgrimage experience was still observed despite many of us in the group, myself included, often forgetting that we were pilgrims & not tourists 😉😉, taking photos, selfies, etc. instead of, or before focusing on what the local guide was explaining or on the scripture readings. I cannot fault us pilgrims on this because for many of us seniors, and I speak for my husband & I, that trip might be our first & last time to visit those places, so we made sure they were properly documented. Nonetheless, it was a truly spiritually uplifting & life-changing experience for us. We continue to thank our Lord for making that experience of a lifetime possible. Indeed, nothing is impossible for God! Thank you very much to Fr. Dante, Bro. Monty & to each of us pilgrims in the group for the prayers, love, care & concern shown to each other. Let us continue to pray for and with each other. It is my hope that we meet each other again soon, to strengthen our bonds of friendships.
Most sincerely, Leclec CabusoraLeclec Cabusora
My husband and I just came back from a wonderful trip to Israel - with Franciscan Fr Reu Galoy. Thank you Pilgrim Center for the arrangements. We are so happy and satisfied with all that you have done for us. Kudos to Yanyan and Monty from Pilgrim Center, and Fr Reu and Ronin for your caring services. It was a spiritual journey and we felt the abiding presence of the Lord all throughout.Ann Arguelles Cortes
Our pilgrimage was worth all the hardships (I was having leg pains). We had an excellent leader in the person of Adrian, two priests Fathers Val and Ron, who gave us very nice pieces of advice and homilies, and of course the members of the group who were all very nice. Looking forward to join another pilgrimage.Emily Bautista
It was the most profound experience I had in my whole life....Walking with the Footsteps where Jesus walked made my life more grateful and humble....My faith become stronger as I express it...A growing faith is a sharing faith....TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!! SHALOM!Carmen Nierra
Vir & I would like to express our gratitude for a wonderful pilgrimage we had from Sept 5-18. From checking-in last Sept 5 & all during the tour, we felt the care from a family. No words can ever describe how thankful we are.
I almost cried last Sept 8, (my birthday) when we (2 of us have the same birthday) were given a surprise mini celebration when after our dinner, we were given a cake. I really felt the love of a family then.
All these things made possible because of your capable coordinator Ms. Ging Igual. She's such a wonderful leader. Kudos to her.
Rest assured that i will refer your company to all my friends who are planning to go on pilgrimage .
Good day & may God always guide & protect all of you in the Pilgrims' Center/ Executive Resources, Inc.Cora and Vir Franca
I am honored to be included in this pilgrimage. The Pilgrims' Center has very good itineraries worth remembering. No hours wasted. They took very good care of us in spite of our big number of 47 people. The daily mass and homilies of Fr. Manny Cruz held in different shrines and churches were very inspirational and transforming. Accommodations were nice most especially the one on top of the Mountain with an awesome view built in 1909. It's like travelling back in time. I definitely would want to do it again with Pilgrim Center.Peter Joseph Mapua
The Pilgrims' Center always gives you the best. They let you feel like an Executive in terms of personal service & attention especially during pilgrimage. Their choices of pilgrimages and pilgrim chaplains are outstanding. You go back home very fulfilled and immersed...Marlene Silvestre
No visa is required to go to the Holy Land for Philippine passport holders.
1) US$ 500.00 deposit is required upon reservations
together with a recent passport-size photo, photocopy
of passport (valid for 6 months from date of departure)
and Pilgrim’s Profile.
2) Full payment in U.S. dollars is required before ticketing
but in no case shall it be later than one month before
3) The following cancellation charges will apply:
>60 days before departure date – US$ 300.00
>45 days before departure date – 50% of the Tour Cost
>30 days prior to departure date – Full tour cost will be
BASIC TOUR COST DOES NOT INCLUDE: Philippine Travel Tax PHP1,620.00, visa fees and documentation expenses, insurance, hospitalization and other medical expenses, tours and transportation during free periods, porterage of extra pieces of luggage in excess of maximum allocation, drinks and beverages taken during meals, items of personal nature such as laundry, telephone, fax, room service, tips for drivers, guides, tour escorts, and other expenses not mentioned in the itinerary terms and conditions.
EXECUTIVE RESOURCES, INC. has arranged for the various tour services to be performed under the responsibility of various contractors. Executive Resources, Inc., its employees or its subagents therefore only act as agents for the contractors providing the various services described in the tour and accept no responsibility or liability in connection with losses or accidental expenses due to delays of schedule, overbooking, defaults or “force majeure.” All tours and arrangements are subject to the general conditions specified by each contractor. Tour itineraries and prices are subject to change without prior notice. When making a tour booking, the passenger acknowledges and accepts the foregoing conditions.
*** RATES AND SCHEDULES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE! ***