Following the invitation from Israel Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, 31 of the 33 miners who were rescued after spending 68 days trapped underground in a mine in Chile are arriving in Israel, accompanied by their spouses, the Regional Governor of Atacama, and Chilean journalists to take part in a “Pilgrimage of Thanks in the Holy Land” (February 23–March 2).
In his invitation, Minister Misezhnikov wrote: “Your bravery and strength of spirit, your great faith that helped you survive so long in the bowels of the Earth, was an inspiration to us all. It would be a great honor for us to welcome you as our guests in the Holy Land.”
Together, the miners and their spouses will embark upon a spiritual journey throughout the Holy Land, visiting various sites holy to Christianity, and enjoying some of Israel’s leading pilgrimage and tourism locations. The miners and their spouses will visit many of Jerusalem’s holy sites including, among others, the Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Garden of Gethsemane, Room of the Last Supper, as well as Western Wall, and King David’s Tomb. While in Jerusalem, they will be welcomed by President Shimon Peres at an official reception in his residence.
They will also visit the Dead Sea and Masada, before traveling north to visit, among others, the Church of the Annunciation, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, Caesarea, and Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The pilgrimage will also include a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Pilgrimage represents one-third of incoming tourism to Israel annually. In 2010, Israel’s record year, 69% of the 3.45 million tourists who visited Israel were Christian, of whom more than 60% cited pilgrimage as the reason for their visit.
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