The First American Catholic Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

The First American Catholic Pilgrimage to Palestine, 1889, chronicles the first Catholic pilgrimage to the Holy Land over 129 years, and guided by the Holy Land Franciscans.

Chronicling an Historic Pilgrimage

The First American Catholic Pilgrimage to Palestine, 1889 chronicles the first Catholic pilgrimage guided by the Holy Land Franciscans 129 years ago.  The Franciscan Friars of the Holy Land, who guided Rev. James Pfeiffer and his companions all those years ago, are still guiding pilgrims through the Holy Land today.  Being a part of a Franciscan Holy Land Pilgrimage means being part of 800 years of history and experience.

 

Rev. James Pfeiffer chronicles the six-month journey as he and fellow pilgrims traveled from New York to France, Italy, Egypt, and the Holy Land.  Rev. Pfeiffer traces the footsteps of Jesus with captivating detail, including heart-rending accounts of experiences at such places as the Garden of Gethsemane, Calvary, and a dinner in the very inn that rejected Mary and Joseph according to tradition.

Rev. James Pfeiffer chronicles the six-month journey as he and fellow pilgrims traveled from New York to France, Italy, Egypt, and the Holy Land. Rev. Pfeiffer traces the footsteps of Jesus with captivating detail, including heart-rending accounts of experiences at such places as the Garden of Gethsemane, Calvary, and a dinner in the very inn that rejected Mary and Joseph according to tradition.

Discovering the Past in the Present

Here are just a few of the many fascinating and intriguing excerpts found among the 268 pages of Rev. Pfeiffer’s First American Catholic Pilgrimage to Palestine, 1889, and now available online at the Holy Land Gift Shop

Church of the Annunciation

“Nazareth is beautifully situated in a valley, surrounded on all sides by hills. It mostly contains stone houses, having flat roofs … The Latin Church, called “Church of the Annunciation,” is one of the finest in Palestine. Christ lived in Nazareth about thirty years, and for this reason it is so celebrated. It was in this humble village of Nazareth, where St. Joseph and the Immaculate Virgin dwelt, and that the Son of God took upon Himself our human nature so as to accomplish our Redemption.”

The Tomb of St. John, The Apostle, in Ephesus

Amongst the ruins we saw here, of any interest to us, was the Tomb of St. John the Evangelist, who was Bishop of Ephesus. Several of our party, including myself, knocked small pieces of marble off his tombstone. I was so much the more interested, since this beloved apostle of Our Divine Lord is also the Patron Saint of my church. We also saw some ruins of a large building, said to have been his church.

“Amongst the ruins we saw here, of any interest to us, was the Tomb of St. John the Evangelist, who was Bishop of Ephesus. Several of our party, including myself, knocked small pieces of marble off his tombstone. I was so much the more interested, since this beloved apostle of Our Divine Lord is also the Patron Saint of my church.  We also saw some ruins of a large building, said to have been his church.

On our way back to the station, the ruins of the celebrated Temple of Diana were shown to us. Diana, an ancient Italian divinity, in many respects corresponded with the Greek Artemis.  Artemis was a twin sister of Apollo. She, like Apollo, sent plague upon men and animals. She was represented as a goddess. She was the goddess of the moon, also the guardian of young girls and women. She wore a long robe and veil and loved to live in groves and at wells. Her statue was of ivory and richly ornamented with gold.  

The Temple of Diana at Ephesus was considered one of the seven wonders of the world.”

The View for the Shore of the Sea of Galilee

“On the side of the town of Tiberias our tents were pitched for the next two nights.

Tiberias has about 3,500 inhabitants, of whom about 400 are Catholics. The Franciscan Fathers of the Holy Land have a hospital here. The church in which we said mass next morning, (it being Sunday), is dedicated to the Apostle St. Peter. According to tradition, it stands on the spot where Christ said to St. Peter: “Feed my sheep.” It was here also, that Christ gave to St. Peter the keys of heaven. Rt. Rev. Martin Marty, O. S. B., DD. of Sioux Falls, S. Dakota, is Bishop i. p. of this town. It is sixty-five miles north of the Dead Sea. Sunday morning about ten o’clock we went boat-riding on the beautiful Lake of Genesareth [known today as the Sea of Galilee] to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. The lake is pear-shaped, being fifteen miles in length and six miles wide. From north to south the river Jordan flows through it, connecting it with the Dead Sea. Its water is clear and sweet and the hills that surround it are of a uniform brown color.

Our trip was most delightful, the lake being perfectly calm.”

An Historic Trip Recounted for Generations to Come

A reproduction of a historical artifact, this book is recognized by scholars for being culturally valuable for the fascinating insight it offers into the earliest account of a formal pilgrimage from the United States to the holiest of sites in Jerusalem and beyond. A copy of First American Catholic Pilgrimage to Palestine, 1889, may be purchased in the online Franciscan Holy Land Gift Shop for only $19.95.  Your purchase, as with every purchase made at the Holy Land Gift Shop, supports Christian families in the Holy Land.

For more information on upcoming pilgrimages, including an special Christmas pilgrimage, to the Holy Land with the Holy Land Franciscans, visit holylandpilgrimages.org.

For more information on upcoming pilgrimages, including a special Christmas pilgrimage, to the Holy Land with the Holy Land Franciscans, visit holylandpilgrimages.org.

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