Fr. Francesco Patton, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land, shared a video inviting the world to experience a pilgrimage of their own through the Holy Land. Christian Media Center shared the video encouraging Christians to not be afraid to come visit the holy places. Fr. Patton said, “Do not be afraid to come and visit the Holy Places. Dear pilgrims and friends, I would like to reach you through this video inviting you to return to the Holy Land. We have spent two very difficult years but thank God we are slowly getting out of it. We need you to feel that we are part of a Church that is universal again. Please do not be afraid to come and visit the Holy Places. A pilgrimage is an experience of faith and helps us to grow in faith. Here in the land of Jesus there are no more dangers than elsewhere, and in fact the pilgrimage is an occasion to learn how to trust in God. For surely, our life is safe always and only when it is in His hands. We are waiting for you my dear Pilgrims and Friends: in Nazareth, in Bethlehem, in Jerusalem, in the Holy Land. Peace and Goodwill!”

Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land welcomes you to join our next Holy Land pilgrimage as we walk the streets our Lord and Savior lived, breathed and walked. These are just four of the holy sites you will experience in your travel itinerary that you won’t want to miss!

1. Stella Maris Monastery
Located on the west side of Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean and the city of Haira, lies the 19th century Stella Maris Monastery and church. The name means “Star of the Sea,” and its Latin origin denotes the title given to Mary, the mother of our Lord. It is home to the world headquarters of the Carmelites, a Catholic religious order of friars and nuns.

The interior of the church at Stella Maris is the home to incredible architecture and beautiful Italian marble. A porcelain statue of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, sits above the altar, and a painting reflecting Elijah’s ascent to heaven in the fiery chariot ordains the walls.

2. Tabgha
You will have an incredible opportunity to visit the site that is most known for Christ’s miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish to feed the thousands. Tabgha, located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, is also remembered for Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples after his resurrection. Here he commissioned St. Paul as the leader of His Church.

At this Holy site, pilgrims can find a tranquil place for prayer and meditation in one of the two churches. Tabgha stems from the Greek meaning “seven springs” and sits at the base of the Mount of Beatitudes, southwest of Capernaum. Several warm springs are present at this serene location, which is a draw for fish, even in the winter months. Because of the abundance of fish, this location makes it easy to picture Jesus preaching from a boat to crowds on the shore.

3. Milk Grotto
This special location lies just a short distance from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Known as the Milk Grotto, the site is made of hollow, soft, white rock, and draws Christian and Muslim pilgrims to its rarity. The grotto is believed to increase the quantity of milk for new mothers and mothers trying to conceive. By praying to Our Lady of the Milk and mixing the soft white chalk, women believe this practice will enable them to become pregnant or produce more milk. The grotto is framed with letters and photographs from families worldwide testifying to the power of the “milk powder” and prayer. This powder cannot be ordered, it is actually only available at the site and at the Franciscan Monastery store.

4. Church of St. Anne
Another breathtaking Biblical site on our journey is the Church of St. Anne, the best-preserved Crusader church in Jerusalem. This location marks the home of Jesus’ maternal grandparents, Anne and Joachim, as well as the birthplace of the Virgin Mary. The church showcases a beautiful courtyard with greenery, trees and flowers.

The exterior of the Church of St. Anne resembles a fortress. There is no consistency in the architectural design. Yet, this holy site is a reverent place of focused prayer. The acoustics are incredible and the sound of a small choral group can sound like an entire congregation in a huge cathedral. Inside the crypt that is believed to be Mary’s birthplace, there are three periods portrayed at the front of the altar: the Annunciation on the right; the Descent of Jesus from the Cross in the center; and the Nativity of Jesus on the left. The crypt is accessible by a flight of stone steps leading down to an altar dedicated to the alleged home of Mary’s parents and the Virgin Mary’s birthplace.

Elevate your faith to the next level on a life-changing journey through the Holy Land. Join us on our upcoming Fall Pilgrimage. Reserve your space today.

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