I invite you to accompany us we explore the unbelievable richness of early Christian life, art, and history in a land/sea journey through the holy land, Greece, and Turkey.
Often in the Mass we hear the words, “A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the …” Saint Paul was a central figure in the growth of the early Church, founding some communities and writing letters to others. He has been called the first Christian theologian for his ability to organize the beliefs of early Christianity.
What a wonderful opportunity we will have to visit places to significant in the life of the early Church! The visions of St. Paul, the enduring Byzantine spirituality, and ancient art will take us deep into our Christian heritage.
Together, we will pray and learn as we walk in the footsteps of St. Paul, in the land that St. John preached, and to “the House of Mary” in Ephesus. There will be multiple opportunities for prayer and regular celebrations of the Eucharist.
Our experience will also provide a deeper understanding of pre-Christian history and present day Muslim life/spirituality. Please consider joining us on this memorable pilgrimage to sites in Turkey, and Greece. Our pilgrimage will include a Greek Isle Cruise.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Clement Niggel
Today we board our flights with meals and beverages served aloft.
Welcome to Istanbul! Upon Arrival, we are welcomed by our Terra Sancta Travel Center representative. We immediately start our pilgrimage with a Mass before we head to our hotel for a welcome reception.
Overnight: Istanbul (D)
This morning we head to the Sultanahmet district. This World Heritage-listed district is crammed with historic buildings and enough magical atmospheres to keep you enthralled for days. Full day visits to the Topkapi Palace; overlooking the Sea of Marmara and containing numerous chambers, courtyards and royal treasures, the Sultan Ahmed (Blue) Mosque with its six minarets and thousands of blue tile, the Basilica of St. Sofia, (church of the sacred wisdom), now a museum, converted to a mosque from a Christian basilica after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Next, we see the Hippodrome and the Obelisk brought from Egypt.
Overnight: Istanbul (B, D)
This morning we will have time to visit the Grand Bazaar for shopping. The Grand Bazaar is an amazing place – literally a maze of streets. It is one of the largest undercover bazaars in the world and is even divided into areas like the leather section, or the rug section. We have an evening at leisure.
Overnight: Isatanbul (B, D)
Today we depart Istanbul for Kavala, Greece. Meet our new Greek guide and Driver and continue on through our tour of Greece.
Overnight: Kavala (B, D)
Today we visit Kavala, which occupies the site of ancient Neapolis and Philippi (Acts 16:12-40, Phil.), that today lies as a major archaeological site near Krinides where St. Paul and St. Silas were imprisoned after St. Paul’s first sermon in what we today call Europe. After visiting the ruins of the great Acropolis, the Market Place, Theatre and Forum, we continue to Thessaloniki for dinner and overnight.
Overnight: Thessaloniki (B, D)
This morning we visit the Rotonda, St. George church, one of the oldest constructions in the city, building made church at the end of 4th century by roman emperor. We will read today from the Acts 17:1-9 and “Letter to the Thessalonians” will become more alive to us, visit will include the Galerius Arch, built a little before 305 AD in commemoration of Galerius’s victory over the Persians in 297. Next is the most beautiful basilica in the city St. Demetrius where Saint was imprisoned tortured and buried. We then visit Veria, one of Paul’s stops, where a Byzantine mosaic commemorates his preaching. We check into our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Overnight: Veria (B, D)
This morning we leave Veria and continue to Kalambaka, a town near the Meteora Monastery. Same afternoon we will visit Grand Meteoron Monastery (Transfiguration of Christ) most beautiful Byzantine monastery. The word Meteora means literally ‘hovering in the air’ as all the monasteries were built on top of the high rocks. First monks have lived here in the caves already in 11th century. The Church of the Transfiguration is the best known of the Monasteries and is built upon the highest rock, founded by Athanasios the Meteorite, well-known figures in Orthodox monasticism. We continue to Athens for dinner and overnight.
Overnight: Athens (B, D)
Today we’ll leave Athens early in the morning for Piraeus and at 11:00 a.m. sail into the Aegean Sea. Our first island is one of the islands belonging to the Cyclades group of islands. This mountainous island of Mykonos has about 400 churches. City of a picturesque white houses and island’s trademark the charming windmills. Place has a unique architecture of Byzantine and Western characteristics. To visit are Church of the Virgin Paraportiani, on the main square Cathedral and an old Catholic Church and many boutiques and taverns along tiny paved streets. Return on board of the ship.
Overnight: Cruise ship ( B, D)
This morning you will arrive at the Turkish port city of Kusadasi. From here you will travel to Ephesus, where the Blessed Virgin Mary lived with St. John in a small house on the hill behind the city. Here you will have Mass before traveling down to the ancient city where you can walk the marble roads rutted by wheels of countless chariots and pass the ruins of architectural masterpieces. It is here that St. Paul preached to the Ephesians, and where he was arrested and cast out of the city. In the afternoon you will visit the island of Patmos, where St. John wrote the apocalyptic Book of Revelations. On our excursion we will visit the cave where he lived, now the site of a monastery housing priceless icons and manuscripts.
Overnight: Cruise ship (B, D)
Included Excursions: Ancient Ephesus and the House of Virgin Mary Patmos/Monastery and Grotto of St. John
Today on the last day of the cruise group will enjoy on their own visiting Heraklion on the island of Crete and visit to Fira town on the island of Santorini – optional excursion on Crete to Knossos Palace is offered for those interested on more activities on the last cruise day.
Overnight: Cruise ship (B, D)
Today we disembark our cruise ship and we will be visiting and exploring the city of Athens (Acts 17: 16-34). Acropolis with Parthenon the greatest monument of antiquity, dedicated to the goddess Athena, from here one can see Areopagus (Areios Pagos = Hill of Ares) visited by Pope John Paul ll same hill where St. Paul gave his famous sermon of “Unknown God”, and more of it today. Our pilgrimage will continue with drive to Corinth first across the Corinthian Canal, started by roman emperor Nero and then to one of the oldest towns of Greece, where St. Paul came after he left Athens and. After a stop at the ancient Corinth (18: 1-18; Cori.) we again meet with the St. Paul, here he remained for one and a half-year. We will be visiting marketplace where the Apostle preached to the Corinthians, the Temple of Apollo and the Corinth Museum.
Overnight: Athens (B, D)
Today we board our flights home, carrying with us memories and keepsakes that will last a lifetime.