Pilgrimages and Collection

The Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

The Pilgrimage to the Holy Land organised by the Commissariat is guaranteed to be a unique experience for those who participate. The Franciscan friars have been present in the Holy Land for over 800 years. No one else is as qualified as they are to be animators of pilgrimages to the Holy Places. Our mission is that of being spiritual animators of pilgrimages. We are not tourist guides. For us the Holy Land is, first and foremost, a place of prayer, of Biblical formation, of information on the message of the Gospel and of Christianity. That is why we organise pilgrimages to the Holy Land. By the term «Holy Land» we are indicating the geographical region in which the Bible was formed. Nowadays this region includes the modern countries of the Middle East (Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Cyprus). Our pilgrims are normally accompanied to the central and most important section of the Holy Land, namely the part in the State of Israel and in the autonomous Palestinian territories. We also include Jordan, which has a treasure of Christian sites which are also linked to the Bible, such as Mount Nebo and the Baptismal Site on the Jordan River. The pilgrimage is a unique experience of moments of prayer in the Holy Places, particularly the celebration of the Eucharist in sanctuaries like the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It also includes the visit to all the important Christian Holy Places, as well as other Holy Sites linked with the Jewish religion and Islam. The pilgrimage aims also at giving first-hand information on the history of the Bible, on Biblical archaeology, on the history of the Christian and Franciscan presence in the Holy Land, and on the current socio-political make-up of the countries we visit, which are a unique experience of peaceful co-existence in spite of the impression that is normally given on social media. We invite all to come to the Holy Land, since we can guarantee that the Holy Land is safe for tourists and visitors alike and the experience of living in a multi-cultural environment is unique. Our spiritual animators are Franciscan friars who are expert guides in leading groups of pilgrims to the Christian sites, and who are officially warranted for their work by official channels in the Holy Land Custody, which are also recognised by the respective civil authorities of these countries. Many of our spiritual animators have lived for many years in the Holy Land, and their knowledge is the fruit of their lived experience.

The Pilgrimage as a package deal

When Christian pilgrims, or indeed any person who is interested in visiting the Holy Land, joins one of our groups, we can offer them a unique package which includes:

  • • The air-fares and coach for travelling
  • • A full-board 7 day (or 10-day in the case of Jordan) package
  • • Lodging in hotels and pilgrim hostels (Casa Nova) of the Holy Land Custody, which are within walking distance from the main Sanctuaries
  • • Group insurance cover
  • • All tips included
  • • A published guide and prayer book of the pilgrimage
  • • An expert Franciscan friar who animates the pilgrimage

The Christian Holy Places that we visit during the Pilgrimage

  • Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth
  • Basilica of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor
  • Memorial of Saint Peter and the Synagogue of Capernaum
  • Sanctuary of the Primacy of Saint Peter in Tabgha
  • Sanctuary of the Beatitudes
  • The Lake of Galilee
  • Sanctuary of Magdala
  • Sanctuary of Cana of Galilee
  • Sanctuary of Stella Maris in Haifa
  • Baptismal Site on the River Jordan (Qasr el-Yehud)
  • Mount of Temptation and Jericho
  • Sanctuary of Bethany and Lazarus’ Tomb
  • Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem
  • Milk Grotto in Bethlehem
  • Shepherds Field in Bethlehem
  • Sanctuary of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist in Ain Karem
  • Sanctuary of the Visitation of the Virgin in Ain Karem
  • Sanctuary of Bethfage on the Mount of Olives
  • Sanctuary of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives
  • Sanctuary of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives
  • Sanctuary of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives
  • Sanctuary of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary in the Valley of Jehoshaphat
  • Grotto of the Apostles in Gethsemane
  • Basilica of the Agony of Jesus in Gethsemane
  • Sanctuary of the Nativity of Mary (St. Anne) and Bethesda Pool
  • Sanctuary of the Flagellation
  • Sanctuary of the Condemnation
  • The Via Dolorsa with the Way of the Cross
  • The Cenacle or Upper Room of the Last Supper on Mount Zion
  • Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion
  • Sanctuary of the Cenacolino on Mount Zion
  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, including Calvary and the Empty Tomb of Jesus
  • Other Christian Holy Places which we visit according to the time-frame of the pilgrimage include some of the following:
  • Basilica of the Manifestation of the Risen Christ in Emmaus el-Qubeibeh
  • Tomb of Saint John the Baptist in Sebaste (Samaria)
  • Church of the Resurrection in Abu Gosh
  • Monastery of St. George Choziba in the Judaean Desert
  • Church of Saint Peter in Jaffa
  • Crusader church of St. John in Acre
  • Besides these Christian Holy Places, we also visit at least one of the following Holy Sites for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, according to the time-frame of the pilgrimage:
  • The Western Wall in Jerusalem
  • Caesarea Marittima (linked with the figures of the Apostles Peter and Paul)
  • Masada Fortress

Christian Holy Places and other historical sites in Jordan (for pilgrimages which also include a visit to Jordan)

  • Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo
  • The Baptismal Site of Wadi Kharrar on the Jordanian side of the River Jordan
  • Jerash
  • Pella
  • Amman Citadel
  • Petra and the Nabatean monuments
  • Wadi Rum

Collection Pro Terra Sancta

The Collection Pro Terra Sancta is one of the most important missions of the Holy Land Commissariat. Once a year the Church invites all Catholics to contribute generously towards the Holy Land and its mission, and entrusts to the Holy Land Commissary of each diocese the duty to organise this collection.

The Collection for the Holy Land is an ancient custom in the Church. Its significance was explained by Pope St. Paul VI in the Apostolic Exhortation Nobis in animo (25 March 1974). Among other things the Pope mentions the Franciscans and their witness to the Gospel in the Holy Land:

«It was a plan of providence that the historical events of the 13th century brought the Order of Friars Minor in the Holy Land. From that time the sons of Saint Francis have remained in the Land of Jesus in order to serve the local Church and to be custodians, to restore and to protect the Christian Holy Places. Their faithfulness to the wish of their Founder and to the mandate of the Holy See has often been sealed with acts of extraordinary virtue and generosity. The Friars Minor made recourse to the rich and to the lowly in order to collect money offerings, and the religious who were destined to carry out this duty had the official title of Procurators or Commissaries of the Holy Land. The Supreme Pontiffs intervened more than once, with paternal care, in order to organise the collection for the Holy Places, indicating its aim, the times and modalities in order that the offerings could be sent to their destination, also with the help of the Bishops. From the second half of the 19th century there has been an important increase of pastoral, social, charitable and cultural works in favour of the local population, without any distinction, and in favour of the Christian communities of the Holy Land.»

In Malta and Gozo the collection for the Holy Land has been regularly organised for many centuries. The collaboration of the local Bishops and parish priests has been instrumental in making this annual event a great success. In the case of the Archdiocese of Malta the collection is organised once a year in September in all the parishes and churches. In the diocese of Gozo the Commissary goes personally to visit parishes on particular Sundays in order to keep regular contact with the faithful and clergy of the sister island. The generosity of the Maltese people is great and is also the result of the effort of the Holy Land Commissariat to organise pilgrimages in which many members of the clergy have taken part, as well as thousands of Christian faithful.

The collection for the Holy Land is aimed at sustaining the mission of the Franciscans to take care of the Sanctuaries in the Holy Places, to sustain the local Christian population in the fields of education (schools and colleges), work (job creation in the Sanctuaries, Case Nove, Printing Press), in charitable social work (houses for elderly, clinics, housing projects for Christian families), and Biblical formation (sustaining the three academic centres of the Custody, namely the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum and Franciscan International Seminary in Jerusalem, and the Centre for Oriental Christian Studies in Cairo), including also the archaeological excavations carried out in various Christian sites in Jordan and in the Sanctuaries of the Holy Land.

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