Fr. Francis Lucas
April 15, 2019
Holy Land & Italy
Rome, the Eternal City, is the capital and largest city of Italy. It is the famed city of the Roman Empire, the Seven Hills, La Dolce Vita (the sweet life), the Vatican City and Three Coins in the Fountain.
Rome, as a millennium-long center of power, culture and religion, has exerted a huge influence over the world in its roughly 2,800 years of existence. The historic center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rome has an immensely rich historical heritage and cosmopolitan atmosphere, making it one of Europe’s and the world’s most visited, famous, influential and beautiful capitals. Today, Rome has a growing nightlife scene and is also seen as a shopping heaven, being regarded as one of the fashion capitals of the world. With so many sights and things to do, Rome can truly be classified a “global city.”
The Vatican City is a walled enclave within the city of Rome. It is the temporal seat of the Pope, the head of the worldwide Catholic Church. It is also the world’s smallest state.
San Giovanni Rotondo was the home of St. Pio of Pietrelcina from July 28, 1916 until his death on September 23, 1968. It is a city in the province of Foggia, Puglia region in southern Italy.
San Giovanni Rotondo centers on the tomb of St. Padre Pio, a Capuchin friar, priest and mystic known for his devotion to God, care for the sick and supernatural gifts. He was declared a saint in 2002.
The Shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo receives 7 million pilgrims each year. The large and ultramodern Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church was built in devotion to the saint and to accommodate the increasing throngs of pilgrims that visit the place.
The city is renowned for its hospital and medical research center Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for the Relief of the Suffering) founded by St. Pio of Pietrelcina and is considered one of the most efficient hospitals in Europe.
Located on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee (or Lake Kinneret), Tiberias is Israel’s lowest city at 200 meters below sea level. 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.
Nazareth, or Natsrat as its name is pronounced in Hebrew, is the cradle of Christianity, 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.
Capernaum is an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. 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).
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.
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.
Located on a small hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee near Tabgha, the Mount of Beatitudes is the traditional site of Jesus’ delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, probably the most famous sermon of all time. 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.
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.
It was by the Sea of Galilee that Jesus chose his first disciples – Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, and it was here that he performed many miracles. It was in the hills surrounding the Lake that Jesus fed the five thousand from the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and it was on this Lake that he stilled the storm and walked on the water to his disciples.
In the region of Tabgha, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, lies the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, the traditional site of the food multiplication story found in all four gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:5-15) It is also where Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection (John 21:1-17).
Besides its sacred importance as the place of a miracle of Jesus, the main highlight of the Church of the Loaves and Fishes is the beautiful 5th-century figurative mosaic floor. It is the earliest known example of a figured pavement in Palestinian Christian art.
The Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, north of the Church of the Multiplication, was built on the rocks at the shore of the Sea of Galilee, traditionally considered to be the place where Jesus appeared the fourth time after his resurrection (John 21:1-24), during which Jesus again conferred primacy to Simon Peter.
The Jordan River, in which John the Baptist baptized his cousin Jesus of Nazareth, is a river which flows into the Dead Sea. It is considered to be one of the world’s most sacred rivers.
It originates approximately 200 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mt. 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).
The city of Bethlehem, located about six miles, southwest of Jerusalem, is the birthplace of Jesus Christ. 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.
Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, its seat of government, and the holiest city in Judaism.
It is also Israel’s largest, most populated, and most religiously diverse city.
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.
What better place is there to celebrate Holy Week and Easter than with Pope Francis at the Vatican? Embark on an unforgettable spiritual journey to celebrate the holiest days of the year in the home of the Catholic Church and the Land Where Jesus walked. Join a 14-day Holy Week in Italy with Holy Land pilgrimage with Fr. Francis Lucas leaving on April 15, 2019.
Start off your pilgrimage in Lanciano, where the most famous Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church took place during the 8th century. Then head for San Giovanni Rotondo, where St. Padre Pio spent most of his life and where his tomb can be found today. St. Padre Pio, a Capuchin friar, priest and mystic is popular for his devotion to God, care for the sick and supernatural gifts.
Travel to Rome to join the Holy Week celebrations with Pope Francis and other pilgrims. On Good Friday, participate in the Way of the Cross with Pope Francis which starts at the Roman Colosseum up to the Palantine Hill. Celebrate Easter with a Papal Mass in St. Peter’s Square, followed by the Pope’s “Urbi et Orbi” blessings and Easter Message.
Continue your pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to trace the footsteps of Jesus. Visit the places where He lived, died and rose again. Listen to the guided scripture meditation standing in the places that set the scenes of those biblical readings.
Head for Nazareth, the place where Jesus spent His childhood. Visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, believed to be Mary’s house where the angel Gabriel appeared and announced to Mary that she is about to give birth to Jesus. Stop by Capernaum, the center of Jesus activities in the Galilee and his town during that time. Here, Jesus taught in the local synagogue.
Renew your marriage vows at Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle during a wedding feast. And your baptismal vows at the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Proceed to the holy town of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. Touch the silver star that marks the place where Jesus was born at the Grotto of Nativity.
Carry the cross with other pilgrims along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Grief) in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Via Dolorosa is the last road that Jesus walked during His earthly life from the place of Pontius Pilate sentencing up to Golgotha, or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was crucified.
Celebrate the ultimate expression of Gods’ love for mankind during Holy Week with Pope Francis in Rome. Join a 14-day Holy Week in Italy with Holy Land pilgrimage with Fr. Francis Lucas leaving on April 15, 2018.
“People today ask is there a ‘forever’? The answer is, yes, there is… God’s love is forever. He is the king of peace and love.” ~ Fr. Francis Lucas
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 Franca PilgrimCora and Vir Franca
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
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
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