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March 3, 2009March 3, 2009  3 comments  Pope Benedict XVI Visit to the Holy Land

The Israel Ministry of Tourism officially announced the upcoming itinerary for Pope Benedict's trip to the Holy Land. The Papal delegation with is to include 40 representatives from the Vatican and approximately 70 representatives of th foreign media, will arrive on May 11th. The Pope will meet with the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barakat, local leaders, President Shimon Peres as well as the Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel (the Chief Rabbis, the President of the Moslem Religious Court of Appeals, Christian religious leaders and the heads of the Druze Community). The Pope will also meet with leaders of the Palestinian Authority Mohammed Abbas during his visit to Bethlehem on May 13, 2009. The official itinerary is posted below: •


May 11, 2009 - Pope to arrive in Israel; official ceremony with President Shimon Peres and visit to Yad Vashem Martyrs' and Heroes' Memorial of the Holocaust. Pope Bernedct XVI will also meet with the Council of Religious Commuity Leaders in Israel. In the evening there will be an Interfaith Dialogue meeting at Notre Dame Center.•


May 12th, 2009 - Visit to the Temple Mount and meeting with the Grand Mufti. He will also visit the Western Wall, Mt. Zion and the Cenacle (the Site of the Last Supper), Heichal Shlomo Synagogue (the Great Synagague) as well as a visit to Gethsemane Church. A mass will be held at the Kidron Valley. •


May 13th - Visit to Bethlehem and meeting with Palestinian Authority Leader Mohammed Abbas. A mass at Mangar Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, will be held. •



ay 14th - Visit to Nazareth and meeting with local leaders. A Holy Mass in Nazareth at the Mount of Precipace overlooking the Jezreel Valley will be held. A prayer at the Church of the Annunciation is also planned as well as a meeting with local religious leaders in the Galilee. •


May 15th - Meetings with local religious leaders at local Churches in Jerusalem. A farewell ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport will be held. Pope Benedict XVI will return to Rome on a special EL AL flight at the conclusion of the ceremony. If you wish to plan a tour following in the footsteps of this memorable Papal visit, please let us know. We have arranged special priced tours for groups of 15 people or more.

April 25, 2009April 25, 2009  2 comments  Pope Benedict XVI Visit to the Holy Land

The upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI is being planned at unprecedented speed. Normally a visit takes a year if not longer to plan. Speaking with Father Eunam Kelly, who oversees pilgrimage for the  Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, I asked him why the Pope was coming here on such short notice.


He returned my question with "Do you have children?"


"Yes, I have 4" I answered.


"How old are they," he asked.


"They are 17, 14, 12, and 8, " I replied.


"Do you want to see them?", he asked.


"Of course", I answered,



"Well, the Holy Father wants to see his children too." he explained, "its that simple." he said.


He explained that this visit was pure and simple - the Pope wants to visit with the Christian communities of the Holy Land, the most significant of which are located in the Galilee, Jerusalem and in Bethlehem, situated just southeast of Jerusalem in the Palestinian Territories. The Christian population in the territories have been declining, particularly since the second intifada while in Israel, the Christian population as actually grown. Nevertheless, the Christian communitities are not strong economically, and the Vatican wants to do what it can to raise the awareness and further the interests of these communities. Israel's Christian population numbers approximately 140,000 people. Their demographic patterns including birthrate are similar to the local Jewish population, however, while the Jewish population has benefited from strong growth from immigration over the years, the Christian community growth has been limited to natural birth rates for the most part. As a result, their numbers as a percentage of the total population, have declined. In 1948, the Christian community totalled 34,000 and represented almost 3% of the total population of Israel, while in 2009,the Christian population, as a percent of Israel's total population, declined to just over 2.0 percent.

March 8, 2013March 8, 2013  0 comments  Jesus

Just before his abdication, Benedict XVI approved the second in the history television exposure of the Shroud of Turin, which according to the tradition, is the piece of cloth the body of Christ was wrapped after his crucifixion.


Burial Shroud of Jesus


The Bible mentions Christ’s body to be wrapped in a linen cloth by Joseph of Aramea, before being entombed. “So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” (Mark 15:46)


Could be the Shroud of Turin be the same piece of material Jesus was covered with?


Shroud of Turin


Wikipedia - Full-length image of the Turin Shroud before the restoration in 2002.


The Pope John Paul II spoke about it: “The shroud is a challenge for a mind. It primarily demands, from every person and especially from a scholar, an effort which could let him humbly accept the profound message, which shall appeal to his mind and affect his life.”


The shroud features multiple stains, which have been said to include also blood. The marks, could correspond to the biblical description of the wounds inflicted to Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. There can be seen small points around the head, which might be the marks left after the thorn crown. As well as, large wounds on wrists and feet, which are claimed to be those left after piercing.


When in 1898, Secondo Pia, and amateur photographer from Italy, was allowed to photography the shroud, he was astonished by the its negative image in his darkroom, which actually gave a reflection of that what could be seen as the positive image of Christ’s body.


Shroud of Turin

Wikipedia - The Shroud of Turin: modern photo of the face, positive left, negative right.



History of the Shroud of Turin


There are no historical records that would speak exactly about the Shroud of Turin itself prior to the 14th century. However, there are some documents that describe veneration of multiple linens featuring images of Christ’s head before that time. A burial shroud, which some scholars associate with the one of Turin, was owned by the Byzantine Emperors, but was lost in 1204, during the Sack of Constantinople.


The fate of the shroud has been well recorded since the 15th century. In 1532, the cloth was a bit damaged by a molten silver from the reliquary during a fire in a chapel of Chambery in Savoy region. In 1578 Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy ordered the linen to be transferred from Chambery to Turin, where it remains till these days. It was given to the Holy See in in 1983.


The TV Exhibition


Formally, the Pope is the owner of the cloth. However, it is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy. The chapel was built in 17th century, especially for the purpose of displaying the shroud.


For the first time the Shroud of Turin was shown on the television on 23rd of July 1973. Soon, viewers from all around the world will be able to see it in HD (high-definition video resolution), on Easter Saturday 30 March 2013.


The selection of the date is closely connected with the person of Benedict XVI and reminds us of the day, when Pope saw the Shroud on the public exposition on the 2nd of May 2010 and described it as the “icon of the Holy Saturday.”


“Thanks to media the shroud will reach to places and people until now unawailable” – said Archbishop of Turin Cesare Nosiglia, who revealed the initiative to the media. He also added that this is the last gift of the current Pope to the faithful and the example of subsequent opening of the Church on the latest technologies.


Archbishop Nosiglia will lead the liturgical celebration in the cathedral of in the capital of Piedmont on the occasion of the presentation of the linen through the cameras of the Italian public television RAI.


What’s more, the shroud will be on display as well thanks to a special application for smartphones, which will be free in the basic version.


Learn more:

Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem houses an ongoing exhibit entitled "The Exhibition of the Shroud of Turin". Visits are free but do need to be made by prior arrangement. Contact Notre Dame Center at +972(2)6271995.

Visit a webiste completely devoted to the Shroud of Turin: http://www.shroud.com/


* * * * * 

Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.


May 10, 2009May 10, 2009  0 comments  Pope Benedict XVI

The Vatican has described this trip as a "personal pilgrimage". Millions of people around the world will be watching the Pope visit many of Christianity's most famous holy sites including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Garden of Gethesamene, Kidron Valley, Church of the Nativity, Church of the Annunciation and the Mt of Precipice in Nazareth. Last week, Travelujah asked the Nuncio, H.E. Archbishop Antonio Franco what specific holy site did the Pope look most forward to seeing on his trip to Israel. Replied the Nuncio "the faces of all the people, that is his favorite site."


Despite all the discussion over where the Pope's itinerary will take him, one thing is for sure - this Pope "wants to see his children", according to Father Eunam Kelley. Despite all the discussion and curiousity regarding why this Papal visit was planned under short notice, if there is one objective that the Vatican has in planning this trip, it is to strengthen the Christian community both in Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and in Israel. by visiting his "children" and seeing the people, Pope Benedict XVI is hoping to instill hope and worldwide attention on this shrinking community of Christians.


The Israeli tourism industry is hoping that this upcoming visit will encourage Catholic tourism to Israel in much greater numbers. to that end, they've been lobbying the vatican in order to get the Pope to publically proclaim that all Christians should visit the Holy Land. Whether he does or doesn't the question is will his actions speak louder than words? Perhaps. As millions of people watch Pope Benedict step off Royal Jordanian Airlines tomorrow, the epic visit to Israel will begin to unfold. When asked why should Christians come to the Holy Land, Rafi Ben Hur, senior deputy tourism minister answered "Here, its a local call to God".

May 11, 2009May 11, 2009  0 comments  Pope Benedict XVI


The second papal visit to the Holy Land in nine years has been picked up by leaders of the Jewish State as a clarion call to beckon Christians from all nations and denominations to visit the Holy Land.

"The fact that he's actually coming here to the Holy Land conveys a strong message to Christians  around the world that they should come here," Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said at a media briefing. "The government of Israel joins this message in calling Christians, come to the Holy Land, come as pilgrms, we ae ready to receive you and welcome you."

Misezhnikov spoke of Christian sites as well as other packages the State of Israel can offer - from spa treatments to holy sites - that can provide a "spiritual, extraordinary experience in a country with extraordinary landscapes and a progressive infrastructure."

Indeed, old infrastructure is getting a facelift while new is being added.

Some of the ancient sites renovated include the room in the Old City believed to be the site of Jesus' last supper. The site on Mount Zion will be host to a personal and private visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Also in Jerusalem, the Kidron Valley, once a haven for drug dealers and users, has been cleaned up and will host Jerusalem's first papal mass. The valley separates the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem's Old City. Nestled between the Eastern Gate and the Garden of Gethsamane, the valley is now home to newly planted olive trees and refurbished tombs of  including the Pillar of Absalom, the Tomb of Bene Hezir and the Tomb of Zechariah. The mass will seat up to 6,000 worshippers in the historic location.

Besides sprucing up historic and ancient sites, Israel has invested in new structures as well. "As a government we have drawn numerous lessons from previous visits (by officials)," Misezhnikov said. "All of the infrastructure is going to remain and will of course this infrastructure is designated for future."

In Jesus' home town of Nazareth, for example, a 7,000-stone seat amphitheater has been built on site for future use.

"This is one of the important things that will remain and will be an economic lever," said Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy. "We know this will be seen from around the world. This is first-class exposure and will encourage tourism in the future. We are expecting a wave of tourism following this. We hope for a specific call from the Pope for people to come and make prilrimage to the Holy Land."

By Nicole Jansezian

May 23, 2009May 23, 2009  0 comments  Pope Benedict XVI


In honor of 43rd World  Communication Day, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the positive impact of social media on today's youth. "The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. "


Travelujah is an excellent example of what the Pope feels is "the enormous capacity to "foster connectedness, communication and understanding between individuals and communities . . . as means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, of forming communities and networks, of seeking information and news, and of sharing their ideas and opinions."


Travelujah was founded on the same principle that the Pope shared so eloquently, "The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. "


Travelujah aims to allow pilgrims to share details of their journeys in the Holy Land so that others may have an opportunity to share their profound profound experiences. As the Pope said  "Life is not just a succession of events or experiences: it is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy."  

In honor of 43rd World Communication Cay , the Vatican announced the launch of www.pope2you.net; a new website that seeks to bring the gospel to the Internet. Pope2You is a new website for young people, created in the context of the 43rd World Day of Social Communications, the theme of which i"New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship."

September 13, 2012September 13, 2012  0 comments  Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI is the 265th Pope, who was elected in the papal conclave on 19th of April 2005. As Pope, he serves roles of the Sovereign of the Catholic Church and the Vatican City State. He is also considered as the successor of Saint Peter the Apostle.


Pope Benedict in Lebanon 2012


Pope’s apostolic journey to Lebanon, promoting peace and dialogue in the entire Middle East, is scheduled from 14 – 16 September 2012.


Official Poster promoting the Papal Visit to Lebanon 2012

(Official Poster promoting the Papal Visit to Lebanon 2012)


During his visit, Pope Benedict is planning to see many important people including Mr. President Michel Sulaiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati of the Lebanese Republic. The Pope wishes will also see leaders of the Muslim communities along with many members of the government, institutions of the Republic, the diplomatic corps, religious leaders and representatives of the cultural world.


Benedict XVI is also planning to hold an evening event with Lebanese youth in Bkerke.  To see the exact plan of the papal apostolic journey to Lebanon 2012 check here.


To Promote Peace in the Middle East


Benedict XVI promotes common dialogue not only between the followers of different Christian denominations, but between Christians and followers of other religions. The idea of this visit is to bring all the people of the region together, no irregardless of their faith.


Bilboard on the streets of Lebanon promoting the Papal Visit to Lebanon 2012 

(Bilboard on the streets of Lebanon promoting the Papal Visit to Lebanon 2012)


The Pope articulated the following vision behind his trip, “My apostolic visit to Lebanon, and by extension to the Middle East as a whole, is placed under the sign of peace […]”


The entire article can be read here.


Bilboard on the streets of Lebanon promoting the Papal Visit to Lebanon 2012

(Bilboard on the streets of Lebanon promoting the Papal Visit to Lebanon 2012)


Watch the Papal Visit to Lebanon Live


Télé Lumière, the first Christian television in Lebanon and the Middle East, and its sister Noursat TV, the satelite channel broadcasting in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, North and Suth America, Canada and Australia, will broadcast a live transmission of the great Papal Journey to Lebanon 2012. The broadcast can be viewed online: http://noursat.tv/en/


Retrospections from the Papal journey to the Holy Land 2009


Pope Benedict XVI in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher - by EWTN

(Pope Benedict XVI in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher - by EWTN)


Pope Benedict XVI came with his message of hope, unity and peace to the Holy Land on 8-15 May 2009. That week-long journey, full of significant events, included four open-air masses: one in Amman, another in the Valley of Josaphat under the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, one at Mount Precipice outside Nazareth and the one on the Manger Square in Bethlehem. For the full coverage from thisevent check the website of EWTN – The Global Catholic Network.


Travelujah's bonus: Link to a video presenting visit of Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land in the millenium year 2000.



Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is oryginally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.


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