Greece & Medjugorje Pilgrimage
In the Footsteps of St. Paul with Greek Isles Cruise!
Spiritual Director: Fr. Charles Puthota, Ph.D.
October 4 – 18, 2024
Thessaloniki · Phillippi · Kavala · Kalambaka · Delphi · Corinth · Athens · Kusadasi · Ephesus (Mary's House) · Patmos · Santorini · Medjugorje
Thessaloniki · Phillippi · Kavala · Kalambaka · Delphi · Corinth · Athens · Kusadasi · Ephesus (Mary's House) · Patmos · Santorini · Medjugorje
For eleven days you will follow the footsteps of St. Paul and experience beautiful sites throughout Greece. Visit Philippi where Paul the Apostle delivered his first sermon and established the first Church in Europe, Mars Hill in Athens where he spoke to the Athenians, Corinth and the site of St. Paul’s trials by Gallio, and more! You will even visit the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus in Turkey where she lived until her Assumption according to Catholic Doctrine. A popular Pilgrimage site, this Shrine has even received several papal visits and blessings. On your 3-day cruise you will discover the captivating and beautiful Greek Islands like Mykonos, Crete, and Santorini.
Your trip includes
- Lunches (Greece), Meals not mentioned, Tips to your guide & driver
Day 1 | Friday, October 4: Depart for Greece
Make your way to your local airport where you will board your overnight flight(s). Your meals will be served on board.
Day 2 | Saturday, October 5: Arrive Thessaloniki
Upon landing at Makedonia Thessaloniki Airport, make your way to the baggage claim area and collect your luggage. Proceed to the Arrival’s Hall, where you will be greeted by your tour guide and/or driver. You will be escorted to the bus to be transferred to your hotel. Enjoy some time to relax after check in and this evening enjoy a delicious meal. Overnight in Thessaloniki.
Day 3 | Sunday, October 6: Philippi - Kavala - Thessaloniki
After breakfast, start your journey in Greece with the first stop of the day in Philippi. Philippi was the city where Saint Paul the Apostle delivered his first sermon and where he established the first church in Europe. “And from there (He went) to Philippi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman Colony. We remained in this city some days…” (Acts 16:12-18). Also, it is the site where Saint Paul baptized a woman named Lydia, the first convert to Christianity in Europe. Visit the Roman Forum, where Saint Paul cast a spirit out of a fortune-telling woman. While here, you will have the opportunity to view the prison (now in ruins) in which Saint Paul and Silas were thrown into by the owners of the fortune-tellers. Continue to the modern port city of Kavala, which was once the ancient Neapolis. This port is where Saint Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy landed when they sailed into Europe. After enjoying this city by the sea, return to Thessaloniki for a delicious meal and restful overnight.
Day 4 | Monday, October 7: Thessaloniki City Tour - Kalambaka
Start your day with breakfast at the hotel. In the winter of 49-50 A.D., Saint Paul wrote two epistles to the Thessalonians. These letters urged Christians to “live blamelessly” and to refrain from living idly while they wait for the second coming of Christ. While in Thessaloniki, you will witness a number of ancient artifacts, such as the triumphal Arch of Galerius that is found at the start of Via Egnatia. Due to the convenient location, this arch was once a strategic artery of the Roman Empire. It was originally constructed in order to honor the Roman Emperor Galerius following the Roman victory over the Persians. Following your city-tour, transfer to Kalambaka. This evening, you will have a wonderful meal and a relaxing overnight in Kalambaka.
Day 5 | Tuesday, October 8: Meteora - Delphi
After breakfast, you will go for a short drive to the Meteora Monasteries. In the eleventh century, there were monks who settled within caves. However, as the occupation of the Turkish increased, the monks were forced to move their settlements higher upon the rocks until they were unreachable by any opposing enemy. These settlements became Monasteries by bringing building, and living, materials by ladders and baskets. The Meteora Monasteries are notorious for preserving not only the Hellenic religion, but also, their academics and arts. During your visit, you will be able to view stunning Byzantine art, as well as the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the Monastery. Continue to Delphi for dinner and an overnight.
Day 6 | Wednesday, October 9: Delphi - Athens
Visit Delphi, the center of the ancient world (navel) of the earth, whose prestige extended far beyond the boundaries of the Hellenic world. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Phthios. Visit the site and the museum and continue to Athens, “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…” Athens is one of the most glorious cities in the world and the cradle of western civilization as we know it today. Dinner and an overnight at your hotel in Athens.
Day 7 | Thursday, October 10: Athens - Excursion to Corinth
After a nice breakfast at the hotel, you will start with a tour of the oldest city in the world, Athens! Visit the rock that has dominated the panorama of Athens for twenty-five centuries, the Acropolis. At the Acropolis, you will see the ruins of the Parthenon, Erectheum, and Propylae. After, you will ascend Mars Hill of where Saint Paul spoke to the Athenians. At this site, Paul spoke to the Athenians about the one and only God (Acts 17:22). While in this city, you will be able to view the ancient Agora, the former public center of Athenian life. It held the focus of a political, commercial, social, religious, and cultural center. As you are in the former political center, proceed for a drive through the city to view the House of Parliament on Syntagma Square. Also, you will have the opportunity to view the University of Athens, the oldest higher education institute in Greece, as well as, the National Library of Greece that holds 4,500 Greek manuscripts. Then, visit Panathenaic Stadium, the beautifully marbled multi-purpose stadium. It is home to the Olympian Zeus, and is the site of the first modern era Olympics (1896). Following your visit in Athens, you will proceed to the ancient Corinth. Under the shadow of the towering Acropolis, Saint Paul lived in Corinth for two years. While here, Saint Paul felt great grief over the way that the Gentile Church in Corinth has become. As a result, he was prompted to write four letters, all with the overarching theme of love. In Corinth, you will have the opportunity to view the remains of the first century shops, the site of Saint Paul’s trial by Gallio, the Fountain of Peirene, and the Temple of Apollo. Following your visit to Corinth, return to Athens for a delicious meal and an overnight.
Day 8 | Friday, October 11: Athens - Start 3-day Cruise (Celestyal Cruises Cruise Line) to Mykonos
Following breakfast, you will proceed to the Piraeus port where you will board your 3-day cruise. Your first stop will be the Island of Mykonos, the most cosmopolitan of the Greek islands that attracts visitors from all over the world. After docking, transfer to Hora, the island’s capital. Upon arrival in Hora, you will enjoy a walking tour that will take you on the narrow cobbled streets of the city. Pass by chic boutiques, elegant nightclubs, and white washed houses to arrive in Alefkandra. This section of Mykonos is known as the “Venice of Mykonos”, as the homes have wooden balconies and are built on the sea. Historically, these homes were of the wealthy merchants and captains. Return to the cruise ship for dinner and an overnight.
Day 9 | Saturday, October 12: Kusadasi - Ephesus (Mary's House) - Patmos
After breakfast on board, arrive at the lively Turkish port of Kusadasi. Transfer to the small village of Mt. Koressos. While in this village, you will visit the small stone chapel that is situated upon the site where the Virgin Mary spent her last days following Christ’s crucifixion. Following this visit, your group will walk through the Magnesian Gate to the ancient Ephesus. Begin your walking tour, which will take you through the most magnificent excavations in the world. Some of the sites include the Odeon (concert hall), the Fountain of Trajan, the steam-heated Baths of Scolastika, the Temple of Hadrian and the Latrians, and the Library of Celsus. The last stop on the walking tour is the Great Theatre, the largest ancient theatre that had a capacity of 25,000 people and is a site where Saint Paul preached. On the return of your walking tour, follow the exact route that Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession via the Arcadian Way. This main street runs from the Great Theatre to the main city’s harbor. On your transfer back to Kusadasi, you will have the opportunity to view the Basilica of Saint John. In the sixth century, Emperor Justinian erected this structure over the grave of the evangelist, John. Upon arrival in Kusadasi, enjoy free time to explore on your own before returning to the ship. When you embark on the ship, your journey will continue to Patmos, where you will transfer to the village of Chora. While in this island’s capital, visit the monastery of Saint John the Theologian. This marvelous structure was built nine-hundred years ago, and continues to be supported by the walls of a strong fortification. In addition to the stunning main church that contains outstanding frescoes, you will have the opportunity to view the beautiful courtyard, dining room, and the bakery. Your tour continues to the small museum, where you will view priceless ecclesiastical treasures such as books, manuscripts, mosaics, icons, textiles, vestments, and jewelry. Board the bus, which will take you to the Monastery and Grotto of the Apocalypse. In this grotto, experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to view the site of where the Book of Revelations was written. The silver niches in the wall mark the pillow and ledge that were used as a desk by the author of the Book. Additionally, view the three-fold crack made by the voice of God who emphasized the importance of honoring the Holy Trinity. Your day will culminate with a transfer to the port of Scala. While in this quaint and picturesque harbor, you will enjoy free time before returning to the ship.
Day 10 | Sunday, October 13: Heraklion - Santorini
This morning you will awaken and transfer to the largest city on the island of Crete, Heraklion. While in this administrative capital, visit the ancient ruins of the Palace of Knossos. These ruins were discovered in 1899, and the palace is currently partially reconstructed. This ancient palace is believed to have been the mythical Labyrinth of King Minos and the seat of ancient Minoan culture. Additionally, it is the site where Saint Paul met the owner and captain of the ship who warned him of continuing his journey to spread Christianity in Rome. Following this historical visit, you will embark the ship that will take you to the idyllic island of Santorini. Santorini is definitively the most breathtaking island of all of the Greek Islands. Upon arrival in Santorini, visit Thira with its iconic white-washed houses, narrow streets, open-air cafes, and glittering boutiques that cling to steep cliffs. This evening you will return to the ship for your last dinner and overnight on your cruise.
Day 11 | Monday, October 14: Athens – Medjugorje
Today marks the end of your cruise. Following disembarkation, you will say your heartfelt farewells. You will be transferred to the Athens airport for your flight(s) to Medjugorje. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your tour guide and/or driver, who will take you on the 2.5 hour drive to the village of Medjugorje. Dinner and an overnight.
Days 12 - 14 | Tuesday - Thursday, October 15 - 17: Medjugorje
The most beautiful features of Medjugorje are its simplicity and peace. While in Medjugorje, you may experience your faith grow, and share in the faith journey of pilgrims from all over the world. A local guide will accompany your group throughout your stay in the village.
Some activities that will accompany you in your spiritual journey:
Attend Daily Mass: Each morning at 10:00 AM, your group will assemble at St. James Church for Mass (English-Speaking). At the end of each Mass, regardless of language, there is a blessing of the religious articles that you have with you.
On Feast Days, and Sundays: English Mass is at 12 PM.
Climb Apparition Hill: This mountainous hill is where the visionaries first encountered Our Lady. At the base of this hill is a Blue Cross, where it is said Our Lady appeared to the children while they hid from the communist police in the early days of the alleged apparitions. While climbing, your group is invited to recite the Rosary, pausing five times for each decade of the Rosary. At the top of the hill, you will witness the exact location of the first alleged apparition of Our Lady to the visionaries, and enjoy private time for prayer.
Climb Mt. Krizevac (Cross Mountain): In 1933, the villagers built a 30′ high cross atop a mountain to commemorate Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. Your group will have the opportunity to climb this mountain, and venerate that very cross. While climbing, your group is invited to pray the Stations of the Cross (to meditate on Jesus’ suffering Road to Calvary), pausing fifteen times for each Station.
Apparitions: Each evening at 5:00 PM (or 6:00 PM depending on Daylight Savings Time), your group can join the villagers and fellow pilgrims of Medjugorje at either St James Church or Apparition Hill to commemorate the time Our Lady appears to the Visionaries. There you can pray the Rosary, as you all await that time (5:40 PM or 6:40 PM during Daylight Savings Time).
*Afterward, Croatian Mass is held at St. James Church and is free to all to attend. It is broadcasted by the radio, simultaneously in order to translate the services from Croatian into many languages. Following the Croatian Mass, there is a Blessing of the Sick.
**For details about the Visionaries, please visit: www.206tours.com/visionaries
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: Our Lady has always called us to be close to her Son. For this, you will have the opportunity to adore the Blessed Sacrament at the altar outside of St. James Church. Adoration is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays; Veneration of the Cross is held on Fridays inside the church. Additionally, there is an Adoration Chapel on the grounds of St. James Church, where Adoration is held in the afternoon hours.
Visit to the Community of Cenacolo: You will have the opportunity to visit the community of Cenacolo, founded by the Sisters of Charity, for young men and women who have taken a wrong path and are on the road to recovery. You will be able to listen to their inspirational words about their journeys back to Jesus Christ.
Prayer at the Statue of the Risen Christ: The bronze statue of the Risen Christ is located on the grounds of St. James Church. Many pilgrims sit and pray on the benches surrounding this peaceful statue. This statue miraculously seeps droplets of water at all times of the day, out of Christ’s right knee.
* Your time in Medjugorje is intended to provide a personal retreat. As such, your time in Medjugorje is not designed to be a “tour” but rather, to provide opportunities for prayer and reflection as you feel called. Upon arrival in the village, you will have an orientation tour. For the remainder of your stay, you will not have a guide however, a representative of 206 Tours will be available should you have any questions or requests. Daily Mass in English and English confessions are available at St. James Church in Medjugorje.
If you would prefer our traditional pilgrimage/tour of Medjugorje, we would recommend you consider our Tour #1 (www.206tours.com/tour1) that provides a tour escort and spiritual leader throughout your stay.
Day 15 | Friday, October 18: Return Home
After an early breakfast and heartfelt farewells, your group will leave by motor coach for Dubrovnik, Split or Sarajevo Airport for return flights home.
*206 Tours Disclaimer:
Occasionally local religious and national holidays, weather, traffic conditions and other events may necessitate changes in the sequence of events or the missing of certain events/places. Though every effort will be made to follow the itinerary, it should be considered as an indication, rather than a contract of events and places to be visited.
About your trip
Medjugorje, located in Bosnia & Herzegovina, is the site of the 1981 Marian Apparitions. On June 24th 1981 six children witnessed the Blessed Virgin Mary on what is now known as Apparition Hill. The apparition of Our Lady had a message of peace for the world, as well as a call to conversion, prayer and fasting. She appeared to them with an infant in their arms and confided several secrets to the children. Some of the children, now adults, continue to witness Our Lady’s apparitions.
Medjugorje is a place of peace and prayer where over 40 million people have visited the now popular Pilgrimage site. In 2018 Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Henryk Hoser the “Apostolic Visitor” to Medjugorje in steps to officially recognize Medjugorje as a sacred Catholic site. On May 13, 2019 the Holy See officially announced that Dioceses and Parishes throughout the world are officially authorized to organize Pilgrimages to Medjugorje.
About the Six Medjugorje Visionaries
About Greece and Saint Paul
The important role that Greece has played in history is widely known; philosophy, the arts, medicine, democracy. But there is also a great page in the history of Christianity: early days of Christianity and the ministry of the Apostle Paul! This amazing man, moved by the Holy Spirit preached “good news” to Jews and Gentiles. Traveling along the major trade routes of the Roman empire and visiting large thriving communities of Asia Minor and Greece his mission was accomplished; Christianity became the biggest religion in the world. Our tours are not just tours; they are an inspiring journey to the actual places where the Apostle Paul lived and preached God’s word. Travel with our bible-oriented guides down timeless roads; take time to pray and rejoice in the ancient biblical sites; visit thousand-year-old Churches and temples; and encounter a unique spiritual experience that will help you to better understand “The Steps of Paul” selecting bible-oriented guides, incorporating lectures and providing printed material, for people to achieve a deeper understanding of the Apostle Paul and his work.