Fr. Dan Cancino
January 29, 2018
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.
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.
Mount Tabor rises 575 meters above sea level on 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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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). Jesus Himself was also baptized by John in the Jordan River near Bethany (John 1:28-33).
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.
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.
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.
According to Christian tradition, Ein Karem 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.
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. In the church courtyard, one wall is covered with ceramic tiles bearing the words of the Magnificat in 42 languages.
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. This is precisely what happens according to the Bible (Joshua 6)
Besides being old, Jericho is also one of the lowest cities in the world, about 800 feet (244 m) below sea level.
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 was then British Mandate Palestine, and since 1947, 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 is the lowest point on earth in any land mass (417 meters below sea level, to be exact). 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.
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).
“I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Our feet are standing your gates, Jerusalem.” ~ Psalm 122:1
Following the footsteps of Jesus in the Holy Land is the spiritual experience of a lifetime. Take your chance to walk where Jesus walked and experience the Bible come alive. You are invited to join a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Fr. Dan Cancino leaving on January 29, 2018.
Begin your pilgrimage in Nazareth, where Jesus spent His childhood. Marvel at the grandiose Basilica of the Annunciation, built on the site where the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she will become the Mother of God. Beside the Basilica is the Church of St. Joseph, the carpentry shop of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Next stop is Capernaum, the town of Jesus. Capernaum was the center of Jesus’ activities in Galilee. There, he taught in the local synagogue. Capernaum is also the hometown of the apostles, Peter, James, Andrew, John and the tax collector Matthew.
At the Mount of Beatitudes, reflect on Jesus’ message that provides peace in the midst of trials and tribulations encountered in life. Not to be missed is a an enjoyable boat ride crossing the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus performed numerous miracles.
While on pilgrimage, pilgrims will have the chance to renew their baptismal vows at the River Jordan and married couples-pilgrims will renew their marriage vows at the Church of First Miracle in Cana. Journey on to the holy town of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. Say a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for choosing to come down to heaven to redeem us from our sins, as you touch the silver star which marks the exact place where He was born.
Next stop is Jerusalem, a city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. This heart of the Holy Land, is the place where Jesus was crucified and rose again. Take a meaningful walk along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows) where, pilgrims will recall the passion and death of Jesus. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is Jerusalem’s holiest site and is said to have been built on Golgotha or Calvary, the site where Jesus was crucified.
Peruse through the numerous ceramic tablets on the walls of the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, the verses bearing the Magnificat in different languages. On the façade of the upper church is a striking mosaic commemorating the Visitation.
Cap off your pilgrimage in Emmaus, a town where Jesus appeared after his death and resurrection, before two of his disciples while they were walking on the road to Emmaus. Celebrate a Thanksgiving Mass at the Monastere de la Resurrection in Abu Gosh, one of the most beautiful buildings preserved from the Crusader Period.
Join a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Fr. Dan Cancino leaving on January 29, 2018. Follow in the footsteps of Jesus and heed his invitation to “Come and see…” (John 1:39)
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