Israel trip and Jesus’ sites 

Where are the Catholic sites in Israel? I will mark them on a map. When I travelled there in 2018, I skipped a few locations mentioned because I was not comfortable travelling to those sites.

From Tel Aviv airport to Jerusalem, take the 485 bus (16 shekels). In Jerusalem, all within walking distance, we have on the Southside: the Cenacle (Pentecost and Last Supper), the Dormition (where Mary passed away), Saint Peter in Gallicantu (Peter's denial and Caiphas prison of Jesus), and the Pool of Siloam (I skipped). Inside Jerusalem, we have the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jesus' Crucifixion and Tomb), the Via Dolorosa and its 14 stations, starting at the Church of the Condemnation, Pools of Bethesda. On the east side (Arab side, crossing the Lions' gate) we have Gethsemane and its Grotto, Chapel of the Ascension, Mary's Tomb (Saint Anne, Joachim, and Saint Joseph tombs as well), Pater Noster Church (I skipped), and Dominus Flevit Church. More distant East, Bethpage, and Lazarus tomb (only accessible by the 236 Arab bus, I skipped these two sites). 

West of Jerusalem in Mount Herzl, accessible by light train, we have the Church of the Visitation (Elizabeth home), Church of Saint John the Baptist (where he was born), Mary’s well. We need to walk about 15 blocks from the train station through the most beautiful landscape (walk back by the trail in the valley to the light-rail station). Download MapMe as an offline GPS for your phone. It is very helpful.

Ten kilometres south of Jerusalem, we have Bethlehem. The 321 Arab bus in Jerusalem will go to Bethlehem in 40 minutes (outside the Damascus Gate), bring your passport because they will check it on the bus on the way backMilk Grotto, Nativity Church within walking distance, and Shepherd’s Field farther out (I skipped the field).

Jericho (Jesus 40 days of fasting) and Jesus' baptismal site, at the Jordan River, are accessible by taxi or bus if you feel more at ease in Israel (1 hour away from Jerusalem), I skipped both places.

In the northern part of Israel (Sea of Galilee), we have more sites that are Christian.

Explained below by bus connections from Jerusalem that may save you time and money:

From Jerusalem to Galilee by public bus (US$30 total):

(1) 953 @6230am (Jerusalem central station), 810am arriving at Afula, 36 shekels.

(2) 541 @820am, 20 shekels, passing next to Mount Tabor (I chose not to climb it, skipped), arriving at Mount Beatitudes Church at 920am, walking distance to Primacy of Peter Church by trail and the Multiplication Church, then to Capernaum, 20 minutes away by a paved path to Saint Peter’s Home.

(3) Back to Tiberias bus station by bus 541 or other (or taxi 40 shekels). Then 2:30 pm to Cana by 431 bus (20 minutes), to visit the Wedding Church of Cana.

(4) Cana to Nazareth by 22/27/26 bus (15 minutes), 15 shekels. Nazareth has the Basilica of the Annunciation, Saint Joseph’s Church, and Mary’s Well.

(5)354,356 bus back to Afula from Nazareth at the roundabout, 10 shekels.

(6)953 at Afula back to Jerusalem (@5:10 pm or 6:30 pm), 36 shekels.

Kursi (Jesus' Miracle of the Swine) on the East side of the Sea of Galilee is accessible by car (I skipped it).

FYI, Friday at 6 pm- All Saturday Israel has no buses or stores open. There are more Christian sites, but you can cover, the ones mentioned, on your own, without a tour as just described. The photo below is between Mount Zion and the West Bank in Southern Jerusalem. A glimpse of the valleys surrounding Jerusalem 2000 years ago (probably what the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, East of Jerusalem, must have looked like before so much construction). Notice the natural cave on the rock formation. The pool of Siloam is not far away. Israel has indescribable beauty. It’s very hard to leave the country, and you will want to come back.

Historically, the above photo is of Hinnom Valley. According to Emmerich, this South valley was used as a garbage landfill in first-century Jerusalem. Judas hanged himself there after betraying Jesus,

A modern photo,

Practical advice for public bus drivers in Israel: first get an anonymous Rav-Kav card from the driver (5 shekels), add 50 shekels cash to it (he will add an extra 20% more as a gift), then tell the driver to take the fare from the Rav-Kav (1 card can be used for the whole family). On the Jerusalem light train, RavKav can only be used for 1 person, 1 swipe, everything else is for multiple people. It will save you money if you travel by bus. Recharge it at any machine with the RavKav logo with a credit card (an extra 20% as a gift).

Book: Jesus: A Pilgrimage by Martin, James

Let us enumerate Israel’s sites above according to the New Testament Gospels and timeline:

Jesus' crucifixion, Golgotha.

Jesus' Resurrection tomb

First-century Jerusalem walls can be more or less traced in aerial photos, and from them, it makes sense to have Golgotha outside the protecting walls and gate entrance to make a show of criminals. Golgotha can also be seen slightly raised.

A Venus temple was built over Golgotha in Roman times. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was restored to its original location...

At the Sea of Galilee, we uncover much of the New Testament...

Let us look with more detail at one of the most important times in human history, the Annunciation:

Nazareth's topography puts Mary’s house either facing south or east.

I like being east-facing because the water well is closer. Also, because of the studied blueprint from 1917, where Loreto’s Holy House dimensions match Nazareth’s original foundation.

 Blueprint of the Holy House and Grotto

This means Jesus' room is closer to the main east door, with no windows. As expected, the man protects the only entrance into the home. Mary's room is at the far back with a small window. 

The Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary at the right of the back window (closer to the grotto) and Mary was at the east entrance, right side (closer to the grotto) at the Annunciation. Mary was also born in this Holy House (now in Loreto, Italy). Because Christians were buried in the proximity of Golgotha, it is expected by tradition to find tombs around Mary's room too. 

In Jerusalem, as I touched Mary’s Dormition statue where she passed away (below the Cenacle) with my rosary, on the side of her head with a stretched right arm, an overwhelming feeling of unworthiness came over me on contact. I am still discerning that feeling and going to confession as much as possible.

There are many other places in Israel to venture to and discover, even virtually. For example, the book Catena Aurea by Aquinas (1250ac) wrote about John the Baptist:

Raban., Antiq. xviii, 5: Josephus relates, that John was sent bound to the castle of Mecheron, and there beheaded; but ecclesiastical history relates that he was buried in Sebastia, a town of Palestine, which was formerly called Samaria.

We can search YouTube for a video of Sebastia, in search of John's burial site. We got one! ...