Pilgrims Between the Two Mountains:
The Holy Land with optional
Retreat at La Salette (France)
Led by Father Flavio Gillio MS
Mitzpe Ramon • Ein Gedi • Nazareth • Bethlehem • Jerusalem • La Salette, France
October 2017 • Dates to be determined
16 days/15 nights
Pilgrims Between the Two Mountains:
A Biblical course/pilgrimage in the Holy Land with optional Retreat at Our Lady of La Salette (France)
Spiritual Guide: Father Flavio Gillio MS, Assistant Director of the Shrine of La Salette in Attleboro, Massachusetts
Day 1: Boston – Tel Aviv – Mitzpé Ramon
Day 2: Mitzpé Ramon – Ein Avdat – Avdat – Ein Gedi
Day 3: Ein Gedi – Masada – Kirbeth Qumran – Nazareth
Day 4: Nazareth – Mt Tabor – Sepphoris - Nazareth
Day 5: Nazareth – Sea of Galilee – Capharnahum – Tabga – Mt. of
Day 6: Nazareth – Mukrata – Mt. Carmel – Caesarea Maritima –
Day 7: Bethlehem – Herodium – Jerusalem – Bethlehem
Day 8: Bethlehem –Jerusalem – Bethlehem
Day 9: Bethlehem –Jerusalem – Bethlehem
Day 10: Jerusalem – Tel Aviv – La Salette
Day 11: La Salette
Day 12: La Salette
Day 13: La Salette
Day 14: La Salette – Corps – Alabandin – La Salett
Day 15: La Salette
Day 16: La Salette – Lyon – Boston
Style and Spirit of the pilgrimage
The itinerary Pilgrims Between the Two Mountains (Holy Mountain of La Salette & Holy Land) combines travel with lectures, moments for personal prayer and readings for a rich, on-site learning and transforming experience. It is not, therefore, a touristic itinerary. The first part of the itinerary will be focused on the Holy Land and the second one on the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette (France).
FIRST PART. Holy Land (Israel) – In the first part of the pilgrimage, participants will spend nine days in Israel. They will move region-by-region. The theme of the first part of the itinerary is: Pilgrims Between the Two Mountains: Jesus of Nazareth, the Ministry of Reconciliation and the New Evangelization.
This part of the itinerary follows in the footsteps of Jesus and his ministry of reconciliation through a threefold exposure: 1) exposure to the historical & cultural context of the Bible; 2) exposure to the geography of the Bible; 3) exposure to the biblical texts (Synoptic Gospels).
First – Exposure to the historical-cultural context of the Bible. The entire Bible is about an amazing story: how God entered into our human history and revealed himself through specific events, occurred in specific places and times, and interpreted and recorded by human authors. As such, the Bible has been approached as the Word of God in human language: “… God speaks in Sacred Scriptures through men in human fashion” (Dei Verbum, III, § 12). For this reason, exposure to Archaeology is an important step to clarify and enliven the message of the biblical texts; it also encourages a critical look at the biblical stories, avoiding the risk of arbitrary and naïf readings.
Today as never before, the cultural and historical settings of the Bible are accessible to us thanks to the many biblical archaeological achievements and findings of the last century. Biblical Archaeology, a discipline laying at the intersection of Biblical Studies, Ancient Languages and Social Sciences, helps contemporary readers of the Bible to understand its stories from the contexts of the people who lived at the time of the described events or of the people who lived at the time of the passage’s writing.
Second – Exposure to the geography of the Bible. St Jerome, arrived in the Holy Land in 385 AD, wrote: “We understand Scripture better when we have seen Judea with our own eyes, and discovered what still remains of ancient towns”. Centuries later, the German writer J.W. von Goethe stated: “If you want to know the spirit of a man you should know his land”. Both St Jerome and Goethe stress the importance of spending some time in the Land of Israel to acquire a better understanding of the Bible and Jesus.
Along with the “History of Salvation”, the Bible displays what Bargil Pixner, a Benedictine monk and biblical scholar († April 5th, 2002), calls “Geography of Salvation”. Deserts and gardens, mountains and valleys, rivers and seas, cities and villages: this is the Holy Land, understood to be the “Fifth Gospel”. In B. Pixner’s view, there are five Gospels telling the story of Jesus of Nazareth. Four of them are found in books, and one in the land. Whenever we read and interpret the fifth one, then, the world of the others four is also disclosed.
Far from being a marginal element, the geography of the Bible is an important and inspiring hermeneutic key. In many instances the geography of the Land of Israel is a source of great inspiration for the biblical writers: the wadis of the deserts hint to Israel’s deep desire for the return to the Promise Land (Ps 89:13); the beauty of Mt. Carmel and that of the Sharon Valley points to the glory that Jerusalem will receive in the last days; Mt. Tabor and Mt. Carmel praise the name of God (Ps 89:13); and finally Jerusalem, whose ruins, laid upon an humble hill, have not been able to stop and to drowse the sincere and nostalgic longing of her sons (Isa 62:1-3). For Jerusalem people intercede (Ps 51:18), plead (Ps 79:1), rejoice (Sal 122:1) and ask for her shalom (Sal 122:6).
As a result, selected biblical texts will be read through the perspective of Biblical Archaeology in order to: 1) imagine and savor the cultural, social and religious world that shaped our biblical narratives; 2) gain insights into the ways people thought and behave; 3) dig deeper into the biblical stories in order to grasp their contemporary relevance and meaning.
Being exposed to the geographical context of the Bible means to experience spaces where the mystery of the encounter between God and humanity became manifested, “event”, and “flesh”. Geography, along with history, frames every single biblical narrative, including the Good News regarding Jesus of Nazareth, his public ministry and Paschal Mystery (passion, death and resurrection). As such, thanks to Israel’s rich network of hiking trials, a couple of short walks will be merged in the itinerary.
Third – Exposure to the biblical texts. The exposure to Biblical Archaeology and Geography is aimed at digging deeper into the Word of God, moving from the Old to the New Testament and from the New to the Old. Indeed, in the Gospels, Jesus is deeply rooted in the Old Testament (see Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-37); his ministry of reconciliation, Paschal mystery and messianic identity are understood and interpreted through Old Testament stories and categories. Moreover, the threefold exposure of the itinerary in the Holy Land is meant at deciphering God’s pilgrimage into our own lives (see Phil 2:1ff): “To go in a spirit of prayer from one place to another… helps us not only live our lives as a journey, but also gives us a vivid sense of a God who has gone before us and leads us on, who himself set out on man’s path, a God who does not look down on us from on high, but who has become our traveling companion.” (St. John Paul II, Letter on Pilgrimage, 1999).
Every day, participants will have the opportunity to spend some quality time devoted to personal prayer and reflection in order to deepen in a more personal way the impact of the Bible read in its historical and geographical settings and in the places related to Jesus’ earthly life. The physical pilgrimage is complemented by a deeper journey, that of the spirit.
Exposure to the historical and geographical contexts of the Bible; exposure to the biblical texts: three moments of one single path aimed at diving deeply into God’s story of redemption through Jesus the Christ; three major steps of one single journey whose highest point is the encounter with God’s presence and action in the public ministry, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth; three complementary approaches to encounter the resurrected Jesus, like the two travelers on their way to Emmaus, “where beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Lk 24:27); three ways of digging deeper into our own lives, tabernacles and sacraments of the Divine Mystery: “Truly, the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!" (Gen 28:16).
SECOND PART. Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette (France) – Immersed in the very beautiful natural environments of the French Alps, the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette is a space of inner refreshment to contemplate God’s majestic creation and to encounter Mary’s motherly tenderness, affability and compassion through moments of solitude, prayer, reflection and faith sharing. A presence inviting us to come closer to God, to ourselves and to one another; a presence interceding to the Father, through the Son, for both our hopes and intimate desires and needs.
The days at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette are meant to be a retreat experience, after the visit to the Holy Land. The days of retreat include public lectures, time for personal prayer and reflection, guided tours to the Basilica and compound of the Shrine, moments of faith sharing and, depending on the weather, a half day excursion in the surrounding French Alps.
The theme of the four days of retreat is: Pilgrims Between the Two Mountains: Mary of Nazareth as Catechist-Educator and the New Evangelization. To many Christians, Mary is a mystery. On the one hand Mary is not often referred to in the New Testament; on the other hand she is the only character to be present at all three major events of Jesus’ life (Incarnation, Paschal Mystery, and Pentecost). She points and leads to her Son. Mary is totally Christ-oriented.
At La Salette, like in the Gospels, Mary is deeply related to the Son. Not by coincidence, in the message delivered on September 19th, 1846 at La Salette, Mary mentions “my Son”six times. Not by coincidence, the source of the surrounding light at the moment of the apparition was the crucifix she was bearing in her chest. At La Salette, like in the Gospels, Mary is totally “Christ-oriented”. As such, Mary of Nazareth is so extraordinarily charged with meaning and resonance that she has been considered to be figure and mirror of the Church, instructing others in the faith on Jesus (see John 2:1-12). And yet, even though the Church looks at Mary as an example and model of who every believer is called to become and be (see CCC 2030), Christian Catholic communities usually neither speak of her as a catechist nor think about her as a model of faith communicator, and as a role-model for those committed in catechizing or in sharing leadership responsibilities within their parochial and civil communities.
The four days of retreat will develop a journey aimed at viewing anew Mary’s role and relevance in the context of the New Evangelization: what are the main traits of Our Lady of La Salette that make her the exemplary communicator of the revelation of the Son, an inspiring faith witness, educator and minister? How can Our Lady of La Salette be an endless source of inspiration for the New Evangelization?
Itinerary for the Pilgrimage
Boston – Tel Aviv – Mitzpé Ramon
Departure from Boston airport or from any airport you are flying from, to reach Tel Aviv, Israel, by an overnight flight. Transfer to Mitzpé Ramon, at the very heart of the desert of Negev. Dinner and overnight in Mitzpé Ramon. After supper (optional) talk on Between History and Narrative: Biblical Geography as Hermeneutical Key for the Biblical Narratives.
Mitzpé Ramon – Ein Avdat – Avdat – Ein Gedi
After breakfast, transfer to Ein Avdat. Excursion into the “Ain Avdat Canyon”. After the excursion, transfer by bus to Avdat, the most important Nabatean city on the Incense Route after Petra (1st century BCE – 7th century CE) and one of the most influential Dioceses during the Byzantine period. After the visit, transfer to the kibbutz of Sde Boker, best known as the retirement home of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, and his wife, Paula Ben Gurion. After lunch transfer to Ein Gedi. Dinner and overnight in Ein Gedi. After supper, in preparation to the visit to Qumran, (optional) video-documentary: The Dead Sea Scrolls.
Ein Gedi – Masada – Kirbeth Qumran – Nazareth
After breakfast, visit to the archaeological site of Masada, the magnificent and imposing mountainous palace-fortress built by Herod the Great, and last epic stronghold of the Jewish resistance against the Romans. Walk through the glorious palaces, bathhouses and ramparts. After the visit transfer to the oasis of Ein Gedi, where David hid from Saul (1 Sam. 24). Excursion through the beautiful Nature Park and Nature Reserve to the David’s Falls. After the visit, transfer by bus to Kirbeth Qumran, that preserves the ruins of an Ancient Essene settlement, made famous worldwide when some ancient scrolls of the Bible, later known as Dead Sea Scrolls, were found in 1947-48. The Dead Sea Scrolls: tremendous documents for our understanding of the Bible and Jewish world during the Second Temple Period. After the visit, transfer by bus to Nazareth, in Galilee, the loveliest and most fertile region of the Holy Land. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Nazareth.
Nazareth – Mt Tabor – Sepphoris - Nazareth
After breakfast, transfer by bus to the scenic Mount Tabor, the place where Deborah and Barak conducted their battle against Sisera and where the Transfiguration of Jesus took place. Visit to the Church of the Transfiguration. Transfer by bus to Sepphoris, “the ornament of all Galilee”, according to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, and a very important 1st century administrative center. In the afternoon, transfer by bus to Nazareth, and visit to the Church(es) of the Annunciation and that of St Joseph. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Nazareth. After supper, in preparation to the visit to the region of Lake of Tiberias, (optional) video-documentary Jesus: the Real Story – The Mission.
Nazareth – Sea of Galilee – Capharnahum – Tabga – Mt. of Beatitudes – Peter’s primacy – Nazareth
After breakfast, departure for the region of the Sea of Galilee. Boat ride on the lake. Visit to Capharnahum, Jesus’ “adopted” hometown. After the visit to Capharnahum, stop in Tabgha, where Jesus’ miracle, known as the Multiplication of the Fishes and Loaves (Mt 14:13-21), is beautifully illustrated in an ancient Byzantine mosaic. Transfer by bus to Mount of Beatitudes, where a delicate chapel commemorates Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5) with its beautiful view of the lake. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Nazareth. After supper, in preparation to the visit to Caesarea Maritima, (optional) video-documentary Herod’s Lost City: Caesarea.
Nazareth – Mukrata – Mt. Carmel – Caesarea Maritima – Bethlehem
After breakfast, transfer by bus to Mukrata, at the heart of Mount Carmel, traditionally believed to be the place where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal by calling down a fire from Heaven (1 Kings 18:19-39) and where today is found the Carmelite Monastery of Saint Elijah. After the visit, transfer to and stop at the Elijah’s Cave in Haifa, at the Carmelite monastery of Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Lunch. After lunch, transfer by bus to Caesarea Maritima, King Herod’s showcase city, known as the ‘Queen of the Coast’, where Cornelius’ conversion and the subsequent emergence of Christianity into the non-Jewish communities took place (Acts 10:24). Located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Caesarea Maritima served as home to Philip the Evangelist and, lastly, was also the scene of Saint Paul’s imprisonment (Acts 23:35) and appearance before Festus, Felix and King (Acts 25:13-26:32). After the visit, transfer by bus to Bethlehem. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Bethlehem. After supper, in preparation to the visit to the Herodium, (optional) video-documentary: Herod's Lost Tomb.
Bethlehem – Herodium – Jerusalem – Bethlehem
After breakfast, visit to the Nativity Church, the oldest standing church in the Holy Land. Originally built by Constantine's mother in the 4th century, the church was rebuilt by the Emperor Justinian around 530AD. After, visit to the Grotto of St Jerome. Transfer by bus and stop at the Herodium, one of king Herod’s fortresses, built on the location of his victory over Antigonus in 40 BC. Constructed over a small pre-existing hill, the Herodium was a fortress for Herod to quickly flee to from Jerusalem and a luxurious palace for his enjoyment. It was also the place that Herod chose to be buried. His tomb was discovered by archaeologist Ehud Netzer in 2007. After the visit, transfer to Jerusalem. Stop at Mount of Olives, an important feature in Jerusalem's landscape and one of the main burial grounds for the city from the 3rd millennium B.C. until the present. Introduction to the Old City of Jerusalem. Descent from the Mt of Olives; visit to the Church Dominus Flevit(1955) that commemorates the Lord's weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). Excavations during construction of the church uncovered a number of ossuaries (bone boxes) from the time of Jesus with numerous inscriptions. After the visit, stop at the Garden of Gethsemane, located by early Christian pilgrims at the bottom of the slope of Mt of Olives, opposite the Temple Mount. Visit to the Church of All Nations. Transfer by bus to the church of St Peter in Gallicantum. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Bethlehem.
Bethlehem –Jerusalem – Bethlehem.
After breakfast, transfer by bus to Jerusalem. Visit to the Esplanade, built atop the earlier location of the Temple, with its beautiful Dome of the Rock, erected by the Muslim ruler Abd el-Malik in 688-691. After, stop at the evocative Western Wall, built by Herod the Great in the first century BC as the retaining wall of the Temple Mount complex, today most holy place accessible to the Jewish people. After, walk through the Jewish Quarterwith a stop at the Roman Cardo, uncovered by Nahman Avigad's team in the 1970s. The Cardo was Roman Jerusalem's main street, the town's commercial center during antiquity and also the main thoroughfare of Byzantine Jerusalem, serving both residents and pilgrims. Transfer by bus to St Stephen’s Gate. Walking through the Way of the Cross, followed by a visit to the Holy Sepulcher, a complex combination of Byzantine and Medieval architecture. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Bethlehem. After supper, in preparation to the visit to the Herodium, (optional) video-documentary: The Bible Unearthed – The Book.
Bethlehem – Jerusalem – Bethlehem
After breakfast, transfer by bus to Jerusalem and visit to the debated City of David with its ancient remains (2 Samuel 5:7). Excursion (optional) at the Ezekiah’s tunnel, a 1750-foot (530m) tunnel, carved during the reign of Hezekiah to bring water from one side of the city to the other (see 2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chr 32:30). Hezekiah's Tunnel, together with the 6th century tunnel of Euphalios in Greece, is considered the greatest works of water engineering technology in the pre-Classical period. After, transfer by bus to the Old City of Jerusalem. Lunch. Free afternoon. Supper and overnight at the hotel in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem – Tel Aviv – La Salette
In the morning, departure to Ben Gurion airport and flight to Lyon, France. From Lyon, transfer by bus to the Holy Mountain of the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette. Dinner and overnight at the hotel of the Shrine.
N.B. Please, notice that every participant will receive a detailed schedule
for the days at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette at the beginning of the retreat.
After breakfast, guided visit of the Basilica and compound of the Shrine, followed by an introduction to the retreat: Pilgrims Between the Two Mountains: Mary of Nazareth as catechist-educator and the New Evangelization. Lunch and free time, followed by the video-documentary Notre-Dame de La Salette (Our Lady of La Salette – Language: English). After the video-documentary, first talk and time for personal prayer and reflection. Supper and overnight at the hotel of the Shrine.
After breakfast, second talk and time for personal prayer and reflection. Lunch and free time, followed by the third talk. Time for prayer and reflection. Supper and overnight at the hotel of the Shrine.
After breakfast, fourth talk and time for personal prayer and reflection. Lunch and free time. Depending on the weather, optional excursion in the surrounding French Alps. Supper and overnight at the hotel of the Shrine.
La Salette – Corps – Alabandin – La Salette
After breakfast fifth talk and time for personal prayer and reflection. Lunch. After Lunch visit to the Village of Corps (Maximin and Mélanie’s homes), and Alabandin, where the children first recounted the events of the Apparition. Supper and overnight at the hotel of the Shrine.
After breakfast, recollection and evaluation of the pilgrimage / retreat. Rest of the day free. Supper and overnight at the hotel of the Shrine.
La Salette – Lyon – Boston
In the morning, departure by bus to Grenoble airport and flight to Boston.
Price is based on a minimum of 25 participants, in double occupancy. Maximum number of participants: 35.
Participants have the possibility to join the entire pilgrimage or one of the two parts.
Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Price for the Holy Land land services with accommodation in Bethlehem: $TBA
Please budget an average of $1,500 for your flight Boston–Tel Aviv.
Flight quotation will be available once minimum number of participants is reached.
Deposit of $TBA due by :__________
Balance due ________
Retreat at La Salette, France
Price for the retreat in La Salette: $TBA
Please consider an extra $300-400 for your flight Tel Aviv–Lyon.
Flight quotation available once minimum number of participants is reached.
Deposit of $TBA due by __________
Balance due ___________
Flight quotation will be available once minimum number of participants is reached.
The price includes:
The price does not include:
By check to: Kairos Pilgrimages, 94 Jackson Rd, Suite 206, Devens, 01434, MA, specifying the name of the spiritual leader of the pilgrimage
By wire transfer: in US Dollars to Bank of America. ABA: 026009593. Swift Code: BOFAUS3N Account: 004639668822, Beneficiary: Kairos Pilgrimages, Inc.
By PayPal and credit card (additional fees for these services to be paid by the participant)
Cancellation and Refunds
Please read our Terms and Conditions for our Cancellation and Reimbursement policies. Thank you.
FR. FLAVIO GILLIO, M.S.
Fr. Flavio Gillio MS, is a Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette. Born and raised in Italy, Fr. Flavio completed his studies in Judaism at the Institut Catholique of Parish, and in Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He did his post-graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. While living in Israel for almost nine years, Fr. Flavio taught Scripture, Judaism and Biblical Hebrew, preached retreats, and guided many groups throughout the Holy Land leading biblical workshops. At present Fr. Flavio lives at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, MA.
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