A scholastic and religious pilgrimage to the Christian Holy Lands was organized by Neapolis University’s Department of Theology Graduate Program, in conjunction with “Leda Travel Paphos” travel agency. The dual scholastic and spiritual journey took place between the 15th and 20th of January of this year 2018. Both graduate students and academics took part in the trip, with professors George Martzelos and Aphrodite Koutroubeli leading the group.
Professor Martzelos is director of Neapolis University’s Department of Theology Graduate Program and Professor Emeritus at the ΑΠΘ (Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki), and Aphrodite Koutroubeli is an academic associate of the department. The group was accompanied by the outstanding guide and theologian Andreas Georgiou.
The six day visit to the Christian Holy Lands received blessings from His Blessedness the Patriarch of Jerusaleum, Theophilou the III who graciously received the group at the official hall of the Patriarchate.
His Blessedness welcomed the group to the Christian Holy Lands, making brief mention during his address of the difficulties facing the Patriarchate. In response, Professor Martzelos began by thanking His Blessedness for the time he graciously set aside from a scheduled visit to Nazareth to welcome the group, and conveyed to the Patriarch the University’s desire to assist the Patriarchate in any way they can. Upon thanking the pilgrims on behalf of himself and the Patriarchate, His Blessedness bestowed upon the group’s academics and the University library a golden leaved volume concerning the Ecclesiastic History of Jerusalem. To the graduate students His Blessedness offered an Icon of the Holy Virgin Mary the Jerusalemite.
The tour, which began at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, included all of the most sacred sites of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, the deserts of Judea and Galilee, Tiberias, and the River Jordan. The group had the exceptional blessing to witness the ceremony of the sanctification of Christ (Byzantine Calendar and Christian Gospel) and be subsequently baptized on the eve of Epiphany (Byzantine Calendar) at the site of Christ’s baptism on the River Jordan.
The scholastic and spiritual pilgrimage ended with the group’s visit to the tomb of St. George the Martyr and Trophy-Bearer in Lydda (Lod, Israel).”