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Judea to Galilee

Today we are leaving the Judea region where Jerusalem, Bethany, and Bethlehem are located, and we are journeying to the region of Galilee in the northern part of Israel not far from modern day Haifa and Mount Carmel. 

Judean Desert

There are two ways to get to Galilee from Judea in Jesus' time: 1) the cooler, shorter way through the Judean Mountains, or 2) the hotter, longer way through the Judean Desert. Jews traveling in ancient Israel between Galilee and Jerusalem would ALWAYS take the path through the Judean Desert. The shorter mountain path passed through the land of Samaria, and Jews and Samaritans did not get along and avoided each other at all costs. 

Picture: The modern paved road over the ancient road through the Judean Desert. The desert is where John the Baptist lived and preached after he left his home in Judea (Matthew 3:1-12). Jesus sometimes took this road, but he also used the road through Samaria in the mountains. That is where he met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42).

Picture: We see a few shepherds in the desert with their goats and sheep.

Picture: According to local tradition, these are the ruins of the inn the Good Samaritan used to take care of the Jewish man who was robbed and beaten in Jesus' parable (Luke 10:25-37).

The Jordan River & Valley

On our way through the desert we pass the Dead Sea and stop to see the Jordan River, specifically the area tradition believes is where John the Baptist preached and baptized people including Jesus Christ.

Picture: This is the spot tradition holds as the place Jesus Christ was baptized by John, and where the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove and the Father revealed Jesus as His Beloved Son (Matthew 3:13-17).

On the other side of the river is the country of Jordan.


Picture: The Judean Desert is not barren. As we continue from the Jordan River through the Jordan River Valley up to Galilee, we see hundreds of thousands of date palm trees, some old and some newly planted.

Jericho & Mount Temptation

We leave the Jordan River and arrive in the oldest city in the world: Jericho. Archaeologists have discovered 25 strata beneath modern Jericho! Strata are towns built on top of older towns. The oldest of the strata found is a town dating from 8,000 BC. Ancient Jericho, whose walls fell after Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land and encircled the city for six days, is several strata under the Jericho of today (Joshua 6). 

Picture: In the center of Jericho is a thousand year old tree whose roots may date back to the time of Jesus. Tradition believes this is where the tree stood that the chief tax collector Zacchaeus climbed in order to see Jesus passing through the town. Jesus stopped at the tree, called Zacchaeus down, and invited him to share a meal together (Luke 19:1-10).

Picture: Behind Jericho, we see a mountain locals call Mount Temptation. After Jesus was baptized nearby in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and 40 nights. The devil appeared to Jesus and tempted Him 3 times. Local tradition believes the first two temptations happened on this mountain. One on the side we see, and the second on the other side. The third temptation took place in Jerusalem at the Temple (Luke 4:1-13).

The Hills of Galilee

We watch the scenery change as we approach Galilee and head for the city of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee.

Picture: The hills of Galilee as we drive to Tiberias and ancient Capernaum.

Picture: A glimpse of the Sea of Galilee 

We will have an opportunity to sail on the Sea of Galilee, visit Capernaum and St. Peter's house, Cana, and Nazareth.


Mount Carmel

We spend part of the next morning in modern Israel's third-largest city: Haifa. There are two major religious sites in Haifa: the Bah'ai Temple and Mount Carmel.

Picture: The Temple of the Bah'ai and gardens. The Bah'ai faith is a hybrid of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam created as an effort to blend the 3 Abrahamic religions into one to establish peace between them all. 

Picture: Mount Carmel is home to the cave the prophet Elijah used to hide from the tempestuous queen Jezebel who wanted all the prophets of Israel dead. It was here Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to light a fire through prayer and petition in order to reveal the One, True Living God (1 Kings 18). 

Picture: In the 12th century, some Christians living in the Holy Land took up residence on Mount Carmel, created the religious order of the Carmelites, and built a church and monastery over the cave the prophet Elijah lived in. The Virgin Mary appeared to a Carmelite named Simon Stock while he prayed and gave him the brown scapular, which is a common devotion among both religious and lay Catholics today. Here you can see a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel holding the infant Jesus in one arm and the brown scapular in the other, above Elijah's cave.

*St. Theresa the Little Flower was a Carmelite nun.*


We are praying for you! May God bless you always and in all ways. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!



Holy Land Pilgrimage

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Follow Msgr. Lofton's group pilgrimage to the Holy Land: October 19th - November 4th.


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