11 Day Footsteps of St. Paul (With 3 Night Cruise)
DAY 01: NORTH AMERICA / ATHENS. Tour members will gather at the ticket counter at the airport two hours prior to their departure to Europe.
DAY 02: ATHENS. Upon arrival in Athens, you are met by your guide and bus driver. Transfer to your hotel with the rest of the day al leisure. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
DAY 03: ATHENS / CORINTH. " Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription ‘to an unknown God’. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you…”
Today we visit Athens, one of the most glorious cities in the world and the cradle of western civilization as we know it today. For twenty five centuries, the panorama of this city is dominated by the rock of the Acropolis; we see the ruins of the Parthenon, the Erectheum and the Propylae. Thereafter, we will ascend Mars Hill where St. Paul spoke to the ancient Athenians about the one and only God. From here we have an excellent view of the ancient agora; former center of the Athenian public life. We continue for a drive through the city to see the House of Parliament on Syntagma Square, the evzones in their picturesque uniforms guarding the Presidential Palace and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We also see the Library, the University, the Panathenaic Stadium where the first Olympics of the modern era were held, the temple of the OlympianZeus and Adrian's Arch. We also visit the impressive St. Denis Catholic Cathedral where we will celebrate Mass.
“Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city. " (Acts 18:9)
We board our coach for Corinth, taking the coastal road along the Saronic Gulf to the Corinth Canal, which connects the Aegean Sea with the Ionian Sea. Short stop for pictures and continue to the site of ancient Corinth, St. Paul's beloved city and site of his most extensive ministry. Dominated by the Acro-Corinth rising 1700 feet above the ruins, the marketplace is laid out exactly as it stood in the days of the great Apostle. We see the bema (the judgement seat) where St. Paul stood before Galilo and preached (Acts 18). The museum contains a superb collection of artifacts portraying life in ancient Corinth. Return to Athens for dinner and overnight.
DAY 04: ATHENS / PIRAEUS. Transfer to port and embark the cruise vessel for your 3 day cruise. Our first port of call is the island of Myconos; cubic white houses and those world famous windmills. Free time to explore this lovely island especially the Catholic Cathedral at “Little Venice” for a Mass.
DAY 05: KUSADASI / PATMOS. “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples.. " (Act 19:01)
Continue to Kusadasi, a lively Turkish port and gateway to ancient Ephessos. Our tour takes us to visit Ancient Ephessos, the Greek colony founded by the Athenians. Here history truly comes to life; walking towards the ancient harbor down a marble road rutted by the wheels of countless chariots. You pass architectural masterpieces like the Magnesian Gate and the Library of Celsus before arriving to the Great Amphitheater where St. Paul spoke to the Ephesians. Visit the house of the Virgin Mary where she spent her last days and we may celebrate a private Mass here. We continue our cruise for the island of Patmos ; considered a holy island for the Christian religion it was here in Patmos where John the Divine, while in exile, wrote the Apocalyptic Revelations which constitute the last part of the new Testament. Our tour takes us up to the monastery of St. John which still keeps its character of a medieval fortress. Inside the walls you will be able to admire the Byzantine wealth of the Christian Orthodox religion while from its ramparts you will have the most stunning panoramic view of the luminous sea.
DAY 06: HERAKLION / SANTORINI (Crete). Early morning arrival to Heraklion, Crete, legendary birthplace of Zeus and where the Minoan civilization began. After Mass we may take an Optional visit to the Palace of Knossos. Crete is the largest and the most rugged of the Greek islands. It is also the home of the great Minoan Civilization and the mythological home of Zeus. After a short drive through the town of Heraklion the tour will arrive at the Knossos excavations. Next we visitSantorini - one of the most beautiful of the Greek Islands. Free time at leisure to visit the island (Shuttle to town on your own). Often compared to Pompeii, Acrotiri boasts a much earlier age and preserves amazing ruins dating from the second millennium B.C.
DAY 07: PIRAEUS / ATHENS / VERIA / THESSALONIKI. “The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away hy night to Beroea; and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.” (Acts 17:10-14)
After we disembark the ship, we continue to Veria (Beroea) where we visit the monument dedicated to St. Paul; we see the Bema where he stood and preached to the people of Veria. Continue forThessaloniki.
“Paul came to Thessaloniki with Silas and following his usual custom, he went to the Synogogue where he used the Jewish scriptures as the source for his preaching.” (Act 17:2-4)
We become acquainted with this great city, the “Queen of the North”, where St. Paul wrote two epistles to the ancient Thessalonians. Built by King Cassandros and named after the sister of Alexander the Great, the city flourished under the Byzantine Empire and it’s most important buildings date from those days. Today it is considered the second capital of Greece, the Queen of the north. Our city tour takes us along the water front to the massive White Tower and nearby Triumphal Arch of Gallerius, built in 303 AD. We shall also see St. DemetriosChurch with its valuable mosaics and frescoes will drive up to the upper town which offers a marvelous view of the city. The site where the monastery of Vlatadon was built is believed to be the location where Jason’s house oncestood and where St. Paul was accommodated during his visit to Thessaloniki. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
DAY 08: PHILIPPI / KAVALA. “Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace and the following day to Neapolis " (Act 16:11)
We visit the beautiful city of Kavala (ancient Neapolis), and from there on to Philippi which was a Roman garrison town and the chief city in the province of Macedonia. It was here that St. Paul won his first European convert, a woman named Lydia, the market place (where St. Paul and Silas were brought before the rulers), the cistern which tradition identifies as the place where St. Paul were imprisoned. Celebrate Mass today at Lydia’s Spring. We return to Thessaloniki for dinner and overnight.
DAY 09: THESSALONIKI / METEORES. After Mass at the hotel we continue to the Meteora Monasteries, perched upon the summits of gigantic rocks, which have been etched into variety of strange shapes. Grey gigantic stalagmites rising towards the sky, they seem to be nature's gift to the pious who opted for monasticism and for a life totally dedicated to the worship of God. The monastic history of Meteora goes back to the 11th century A.D. when the first hermits sought peace and solitude in the rifts and caves of these rocks, but the first monasteries were not built until the 14th century A.D. attaining their peak in the 16th. Of the 13 large and 20 small monasteries and hermit’s cells, only four are not occupied: Megalo Meteora, Monie Varlaam, Monia Aghias Triadas and Moni Aghiou Stefanou. Apart from portable icons, miniatures, ecclesiastical robes, utensils and crosses, all of them excellent examples of Byzantine art, the Meteora Monasteries also contain rare editions and manuscripts. Dinner and overnight in Meteora.
DAY 10: METEORES / ATHENS. After Mass at the hotel we depart for Athens, driving through the beautiful countryside of Greece, on past many picturesque towns and villages. We arrive Athens in late afternoon for time at leisure before dinner and overnight.
DAY 11: ATHENS / NORTH AMERICA. Transfer to the airport for your flight home, the end of a marvelous journey.