A pilgrimage to the HOLY LAND
is a grace and a joy for ever ...
An Israeli guide, provided by the Israeli Tourist Office, would see to the political and civil aspects of the tour. But M. Christophe WIRTZ, owner of the WIRTZ Travel Agency, was a strong believer in the benefit for his customers to have a Catholic priest as a member of each group he dispatched to Israel. Through his services several most willing clergymen were in turn invited to join the successive parties with the mission of fostering a Christian approach to the Holy Sites of Christ's birth, passion and resurrection. Father John De Ridder s.j. accepted this job of Tour Conductor three times from 1985 to 1986. In 1987, started the Intifada which rang the knell of sponsored pilgrimages for several years.
Hebron - Machpelah Cave
The Cave of Machpelah, or Tomb of the Patriarchs, is the world's most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The cave was purchased by Abraham as a burial place for his wife Sarah some 3,700 years ago, along with the trees and field adjoining it, the first recorded transaction of a Hebrew buying land in Canaan (Genesis 23). Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, and Leah were all later buried in the same place. These are considered the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth. Muslims believe that Joseph is also buried here, though Jews think he was buried in Nablus. Though Israel regained control of Hebron in 1967, the Cave of Machpelah has remained under the authority of the Muslim Waqf (Religious Trust), which continues to restrict Jewish access. No visitors are allowed inside during Muslim prayer times, Fridays or Muslim holidays.
Beersheba [Heb., seven wells or well of the oath], city (1994 pop. 147,900), S Israel, principal city of the Negev Desert. It is the trade center for surrounding settlements and for Bedouins. Beersheba is an important rail and road hub for S Israel. The city was one of the southernmost towns of ancient Palestine; hence the expression "from Dan to Beersheba," meaning the whole of Palestine. It is especially connected, in the Bible, with Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, and Elijah. A well believed to have been dug by Abraham when he made his covenant with Abimelech is in the city. Beersheba flourished during the late Roman and Byzantine eras but was deserted soon thereafter. Beersheba was the first city taken by the British in the Palestine campaign (1917) of World War I. Under the British mandate (1922–48) it was a city (Bir-es-Seba) inhabited by about 4,000 Muslim Arabs. Given to the Arabs in the partition of Palestine (1948), it was retaken by Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Its population and economy have grown considerably since 1989 as a result of immigration from the former Soviet Union. Beersheba is the seat of the Arid Zone Research Institute and the Ben-Gurion Univ. Remnants of a fortress and shards of the Bronze Age have been found nearby at Tell el-Sheba, the most ancient site of Beersheba.
Beersheva new city