Lebanon is a small but beautiful country of seacoasts, mountains, rivers – and, of course, majestic cedar trees – with a history stretching back thousands of years, to the Phoenicians, who invented both an alphabet and paper.
Tucked in between Syria and Israel, it is a crossroads between Asia and Europe, a unique land where Christians, Muslims and Jews live together in peace. Christianity took root here in its very beginnings, and Lebanon’s Maronite Catholics are a treasure in the global Church.
Our pilgrimage is not only a journey to holy places, but also a journey within, toward one place only — toward the heart of God, and our own personal unity with Him.
Our itinerary is a living itinerary; each day may hold unexpected encounters. Our prayer is to allow the Holy Spirit to be our guide.
Come with us to this ancient land where Jesus Himself walked …experience Lebanon for yourself: the breathtaking country Pope John Paul II called “a message of peace” for the world.
Our pilgrimage to this “Land of Ancient Faith” will be full of spiritual insight and enriching encounters. We will travel to the Qadisha Valley, the heart of eastern Christian monasticism, and Bkerké, the “Vatican” of Lebanon and the site of the Maronite Patriarchal See. We will witness the extraordinary devotion of the Lebanese Christians to their saints, including St. Charbel, whose monastery we will visit and at whose tomb we will pray.
Day 1: Saturday, September 14, 2024
- Arrive to Beirut
- Private transfer to Hilton Grand Hotel (you will be met upon exiting the secured area)
- Immediately check into the Hilton Grand Hotel to rest
- Welcome dinner at the Hilton on the 32nd floor overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea
Day 2: Sunday, September 15, 2024
- Attend Sunday Liturgy – St Rita’s Church Maronite Liturgy
- Breakfast at the Hilton on the 32nd floor overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea
- Depart for the Qadisha Valley ~ 2 hour drive. Lunch along the way
- Visit St. Anthony Monastery in the Qadisha Valley
The Monastery of St. Anthony is the birthplace of the first printing press in the Middle East. Some historians believe it was built in 1584. Its first printed text is The Book of Psalms, which dates back to 1610. The Lebanese Maronite Order renovated the printing press at the start of the nineteenth century. Its activities were halted at the beginning of the 1860 war. It resumed printing in 1871, but stopped again at the beginning of World War II.
- On our way to our hotel, we will visit the Basilica of Saba in Bacharre
- Dinner will be at our hotel near the Cedars of God
Day 3: Monday, September 16, 2024
We will visit many holy sites and encounter many people in the area, including monks and hermits.
- Breakfast at our hotel near the Cedars of God
- Visit the summer residence of the Maronite Patriarch in the Qadisha Valley, then continue to the home and cave of St. Charbel
- Drive down into the Qadisha Valley to visit Saint Elias Monastery
- Lunch – once-in-a-lifetime experience dining at a restaurant amongst the trees on the bottom of the Qadisha Valley and along side the rushing Abou Ali River
Qadisha Valley (The Holy Valley) The Qadisha Valley cradles centuries of Christian monasticism and the roots of the Maronite church in Lebanon, which date back to the 4th century. According to Unesco: “The Qadisha valley is one of the most important early Christian monastic settlements in the world.”
Day 4: Tuesday, September 17, 2024
- Breakfast at our hotel
- Khalil Gibran Museum: Khalil Gibran was born in Bcharre, in the Qadisha Valley. His coffin rests in the hermitage which is part of the museum. Lunch nearby.
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls” – Khalil Gibran, The Prophet (1923)
- Visit the Cedars of God: Horsh Arz el-Rab. The cedars in Lebanon are mentioned in the Bible 103 times. One quote from Ezekiel:
“Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs”
- Dinner will be overlooking the great cedars of Lebanon and under one of the oldest trees in the Cedars of God
- While in the Qadisha Valley, we will enjoy once-in-a-lifetime sunsets above the clouds
Day 5: Wednesday, September 18, 2024
Depart the Qadisha Valley for Beirut. On our way we will visit:
- Monastery of St. Hardidi (1808 – 1858) — a Maronite monk, priest and scholar. He is best known for being the master of St. Charbel
- Monastery of St. Rafca (1832-1914) –– a Maronite nun canonized in 2001 by St. John Paul II. She was known for sharing in the suffering of Christ by offering her own suffering of blindness and paralysis to Christ
- Lunch overlooking the sea in Batroun, known for its fresh seafood. Afterward, we will take a tour of Batroun via a golf cart, stopping along the way at churches, the souk, and places of interest.
- Dinner at the Hilton on the 32nd floor overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea
Day 6: Thursday, September 19, 2024
- Breakfast at the Hilton on the 32nd floor overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea – relaxing morning
Today, we will visit downtown Beirut:
- Nejmeh Square — the central square with the famous clock tower built by the Ottomans
- Martyr’s Square –– a rich history and home to the bullet-holes martyr’s statue, art exhibits can be found on many days
- Solidere District — The French Mandate historic city, which was destroyed during the civil war, was recently renovated and transformed into a chic high-end shopping and cafe quarter
- The many cathedrals in downtown Beirut –– St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, St. George Maronite Cathedral, and St. Elias Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral
- Beirut Port –– site of the August 4, 2020 explosion
- Lunch in the old city of Beirut