Pilgrimages

April 19th, 2010 @ 10:47 |

PILGRIMAGES ORGANISED
BY THE HOLY LAND COMMISSARIAT IN MALTA

The Holy Land Commissariat in Malta organises various pilgrimages to the Holy Land.  The pilgrimages normally last 8 full days.  The pilgrims visit all the Christian sanctuaries in the Holy Land, and other Biblical sites, including the following:

The complex of the Annunciation Basilica in Nazareth
Mount Tabor
Caphernaum, Beatitudes, Tabgha and the Lake of Galilee
The Jordan River site for the renewal of baptismal vows
Cana of Galilee
Haifa and the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel
The Dead Sea, Jericho, and Qumran
The Judean Desert and Bethany
The Nativity Basilica, Shepherds’ Field and Milk Grotto in Bethlehem
The sanctuaries of Saint John the Baptist and the Visitation in Ain Karem
The Mount of Olives (Bethfage, Ascension, Pater Noster, Dominus Flevit,
Tomb of the Virgin, Grotto of the Apostles, Gethsemani)
Mount Sion (Armenian Quarter, Upper Room of the Last Supper, and Dormition Abbey)
The Western Wall and Jewish Quarter
Bethesda pool, Saint Anne, Flagellation, Condemnation, Ecce Homo and Via Dolorosa
The complex of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre
Emmaus

The pilgrimage includes intense moments of prayer and celebrations, particularly the Eucharist in Nazareth, Caphernaum, Bethany, Bethlehem, Cenaculum, Holy Sepulchre, and Emmaus.  The pilgrims have the unique opportunity to participate in an hour-long Adoration in the Basilica of the Agony in Gethsemani, reserved for them after closing time in the evening.  They are also invited to participate in the Via Crucis along the Via Dolorsa, as well as in the daily processions of the Franciscans in Bethlehem and in the Holy Sepulchre.

The pilgrims are welcomed in the Franciscan Casa Nova in Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  Besides providing the opportunity of staying in comfortable hotels, which cater for the average pilgrim, the Casa Nova hotels are all situated within walking distance from the Basilicas of Nazareth, Bethlehem and the Holy Sepulchre.  The pilgrims can thus visit these important sanctuaries in all moments of the day for personal prayer.

The aim of the Franciscan pilgrimage to the Holy Land is purely spiritual. The Holy Land Commissariat is not a travel agency and does not function as one.  Its only intention is that of providing the pilgrims with a unique experience of spiritual contact with the Holy Places and with the Word of God and the Gospel.  That is why the pilgrims are always accompanied by expert Franciscan friars, who work in collaboration with the Commissary of the Holy Land, and who are officially entrusted by the Holy Land Custody with accompanying pilgrims to the Holy Land.  The Commissary or his delegates guarantee that the pilgrims truly make an enriching spiritual experience, through the reading of the Word of God in situ, and the celebrations in all the major sanctuaries.  They do their work voluntarily and at no extra cost for the pilgrims, since the Franciscans know that it is their mission to accompany pilgrims to the Holy Land.  Being the official custodians of the Holy Places, their expert guidance and spiritual direction are unparalleled, and no other tourist guide can provide this kind of service, which is directed solely to a Christian spiritual experience in the land of Jesus, and is in no way connected solely to the tourist industry.

This is what makes the pilgrimage to the Holy Land different from any other experience for tourists in a land which, to say the truth, is also a wonderful venue for tourists and those interested in archaeology.  From the Christian and biblical perspective, the Holy Land Commissariat provides also the opportunity to visit some archaeological sites connected with the Bible and with the history of the Jewish people and the Christian presence in the Holy Land.  The pilgrim also has some time for shopping and sightseeing, particularly in the old city of Jerusalem, and to enjoy the panorama of the new city by night.

Above all, the genuine intention of the Holy Land Commissariat is that of making the pilgrim feel the reality of Christianity in the Holy Land, with the contrasts, tensions, but also relations of goodwill between the various Christian denominations, and between the two major ethnic groups which make up the majority of the population in the State of Israel and in the Autonomous Palestinian Territories.  The pilgrims are also educated to respect other peoples and other religions, particularly the two religions present in this land, which have particular ties with Christianity, namely the Jewish and Muslim religions.

The Holy Land Commissariat believes that the organisation of the pilgrimages is a unique experience to help the Holy Land Custody in its endeavour to continue the Christian presence in the land of Jesus, and in the pastoral care of the Christian population, which makes up barely 2 per cent of the overall population in Israel and Palestine.  The Christian pilgrimage is an experience of peace and goodwill, and we believe that the presence of Christian pilgrims can bring prosperity and enhance mutual understanding in this land.  This is what makes the difference between choosing to come on a pilgrimage with the Commissariat of the Holy Land and choosing to come for praiseworthy reasons of religious tourism with any tour operator.  The Franciscans reside in the Holy Land, love the Holy Land, know the Holy Land better than anyone else who occasionally visits the Holy Land.  For this reason, and for the reasons of solidarity with the local Christian population outlined above, the cost of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the Maltese Commissariat is money spent for a good cause.

One final note for information.  In Israel and Palestine guiding tourists falls under the control of the guides employed by the Ministry of Tourism, with the exception of Christian pilgrims who come for purely religious reasons, who can be accompanied by expert spiritual animators of pilgrimages, approved by the ecclesiastical authority.  In the case of Franciscan pilgrimages organised by the Commissaries of the Holy Land, the spiritual animator has the official approval of the Custos of the Holy Land.

For bookings and further information, please contact:
Fr. Anthony Chircop ofm
Commissariat of the Holy Land
8 Santa Lucija Street,
Valletta VLT 1213, Malta
Tel: +356 21 242254
Fax: + 356 21 252031
E-mail:comalt@ofm.org.mt
 

PILGRIMAGES 2017


The Malta Commissariat of the Holy Land has just published its programme of pilgrimages to the Holy Land and other places for the year 2017. Various dates are available, and there is also a special pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Jordan and an extended one to more of the Holy Places. There is also a new opportunity to visit Poland, the birthplace of St. John Paul II, and Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi. Bookings are taken on a first-come-first-served basis. So, book early if you do not want to be disappointed.

HOLY LAND
10 – 18 May
13 – 21 July
17 – 25 August
10 – 18 September

HOLY LAND AND JORDAN
20 – 30 April

HOLY LAND EXTRA
06 – 16 November

POLAND
29 July – 2 August

ASSISI
28 August – 2 September

List of Pilgrimages – Download here (pdf) 

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