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Catholic Guide to The Holy Land: Israel, Egypt and Jordan

Once you travel to the Holy Land you will never read the Bible the same or hear the Gospel preached without reflecting on the places where Our Lord lived, taught, healed and was crucified. There are many shrines here that are holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. It is here that all three religions intersect. You can see the places you have heard about all your life and be touched in many ways, so if the opportunity presents itself be sure to consider a visit to the Holy Land.

When we read of the stories in the Gospels it is not apparent how close these places were to one another. Most of these are just a few miles distance.

Often when people talk of the Holy Land they think only of Israel. A country small in size, yet the center of the Christian faith, a trip to Israel brings you directly into the footsteps of Jesus. And there is where much of Jewish history and Christian history took place; however, there are sites in Egypt and Jordan that also help bring the Gospels to life and that is why we include those two countries here as well.  Not all Holy Land tours will include these two countries, so check their itineraries if they are places you want to visit.

And despite what the media might portray, it is perfectly safe for tourists.

Over the last several decades hundreds of thousands have visited here and returned spiritually refreshed.  In some cases, well-meaning friends and relatives tried to dissuade them from going and sadly, occasionally, they were successful, therefor robbing people of a truly spiritual experience.

This is really a shame since safety concerns are way over-blown, in our opinion. And the facts bear that out!

Follow Saint Helena in the Holy Land
Follow Saint Helena: the first pilgrim to the Holy Land

A word of caution: not all “Christian” tours of the Holy Land are from a Catholic Christian perspective. Although the Protestant tours will usually visit many of the same sites as the Catholic tours, their interpretation of scripture is naturally different from the Catholic one in several important instances.

An example would be the “Garden Tomb”, a highlight of many Protestant tours, as the possible burial site of Jesus. The Catholic Church recognizes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as the actual burial site. The Garden tomb is visually interesting, but several factors weigh against the argument that this could be the actual burial site.

A note about tipping when traveling to the Holy Land in a group: most group tours in Europe include tips at hotels and restaurants. This is definitely not the case for many tours in Israel. If you will be traveling with a group to Israel be sure to check to see if tips will be in addition to the cost of your tour. If they are, then the group leader may collect those in advance from you to make things easier, but it is something to consider.

A trip to the Holy Land can even be a life-changing experience…..as detailed in this blog post.


Here are some of the highlights for Catholic visitors to the Holy Land



Mount Sinai: Mount Sinai and Saint Catherine’s Monastery

Zeitoun (Cairo): Virgin Mary Church:  Apparitions of the Virgin Mary



Bethany: Tomb of Lazarus, home of Martha and Mary

Bethlehem: Church of the Nativity, The Milk Grotto, Shepherd’s Field, Church of St. Catherine

Cana: Site of The Wedding Feast at Cana

Capernaum: Home of St. Peter & Site of many of Jesus’ miracles

Ein Kerem: Church of the Visitation; Church of St. John the Baptist

Emmaus: Jesus reveals Himself after His Resurrection

Jericho: Mount of Temptation

Jerusalem: Many Holy Sites

Magdala: The Magdala Center

Mount Tabor:  Site of the Transfiguration & Church of the Transfiguration

Nazareth:  Basilica of the Annunciation, Mary’s Well, the Old Synagogue, St. Joseph’s Church

Masada (coming soon)

Mount Carmel: Stella Maris Monastery and Elijah’s Cave

Mount Tabor: Church of the Transfiguration

Tabgha: Church of Peter’s Primacy

The Gaza Strip:  Holy Family Church



Bethany Beyond the Jordan: actual site of the Baptism of Jesus

Mount Nebo: Church of Moses (where Moses saw the promised land)


7 thoughts on “Holy Land”

  1. I really appreciate this article, but I wanted to let you know: there are several more amazing places to see in Egypt than just Mt. Sinai and Our Lady’s Church in Zeitoun. I’m currently in Egypt on a yearlong sabbatical with the desert monks. Before going to the monasteries, I did a whole pilgrimage to many holy Egypt sites. The Holy Family fled to Egypt, and centuries of corroborating tradition documents precise locations they spent time. Please consider adding to your list: Old Cairo – especially St. Sergius and Bacchus Church (there’s a well-preserved cave here where the Holy Family spent 3 days, and you can even see the ledge where the infant Jesus was laid), Matareya (site of a famous tree associated with the Holy Family’s visit), Church of the Virgin Mary in Mostorod (there’s a well here that Our Lady washed the child Jesus in), Church of the Virgin Mary in Maadi (there’s a Church/monastery here easily accessible, right along the Nile, where the Holy Family embarked on a boat in the Nile – the stairs they took are able to be visited!). There are other amazing places to see in Egypt related to the Holy Family, but these are the easiest to get to. Even in this time of coronavirus these places are open, and I can attest to the spiritual power of visiting them. Thanks for your consideration and your work!

  2. hi there! looking for a Holy land tour between oct 8-23 2020 in english. Would prefer departure from Vancouver included but will be happy for some resources about joining a holy land tour in english once we arrive in israel

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