Sussita National Park: A New Destination for Pilgrims in the Holy Land
We are delighted to announce the recent addition of Sussita to the booking system for Mass and Prayers ceremonies in the Holy Land, joining the sites of Caesarea Philippi, Kursi, Korazim, The Good Samaritan, and Avdat National Parks.
Data from the Christian Information Center, which oversees pilgrimage activities in the Holy Land, reveals that prior to the pandemic, Israel welcomed approximately 500,000 pilgrims annually, spread across 15,000 groups. A significant majority of these groups are Catholic and perform daily Mass ceremonies during their time in the country.
For this purpose, they book venues from among the dozens of churches throughout the nation using an online reservation system accessible to all inbound tourism agencies. Over the last couple of years, due to the increase in the number of pilgrims, a collaboration was established between the Franciscan Custody (responsible on behalf of the Vatican for Christian activities in Israel and neighboring countries and also oversees the pilgrimage) and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
Through this partnership, several national park sites were designated as Mass ceremonies venues available for advanced booking by pilgrim groups. These sites include Caesarea Philippi, Kursi, Korazim, The, and Avdat National Parks. This week, Sussita, which was opened to the public six months ago, joined as the sixth site on the list.
Sussita boasts two areas intended for prayers and Masses: one overlooks the Sea of Galilee and the “Evangelical Triangle” (comprising of Capernaum, Mount of Beatitudes, and Tabgha) – sites of profound significance to Christian believers. The second offers a panoramic view of the Jordan Valley and Mount Tabor, a location revered in the Christian tradition for the Transfiguration event. The Sea of Galilee and its surroundings, including Susita, have deep ties with the life of Jesus. As you tour around the Sea of Galilee, adding the newly opened Sussita site to your itinerary is a must.
Specific references to Sussita’s significance in Christian history include:
– “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
– The miracle of the swine (Matthew 8:28–34)
– The eight churches that were excavated in the city.
According to Dr. Hagay Dvir, the INPA’s Tourism Product Manager, “This addition is significant news for tourism agencies and groups looking to rejuvenate their pilgrimage experience by holding prayers and Masses at heritage and nature sites. These venues narrate the Christian story in the Holy Land and offer a profound spiritual experience to the pilgrims”.
We invite you to explore the mesmerizing beauty, historical depth, and spiritual resonance of Sussita National Park. With its unparalleled landscapes, rich history, and proximity to the iconic Sea of Galilee, a journey to Sussita promises an unforgettable experience for every traveler to Israel.
Please note: From September 1st, 2023, there is an entrance fee to the site, ensuring its preservation for future generations.
For Mass and Prayers ceremonies bookings, visit the Franciscan Custody’s website: https://www.cicts.org/en/fpo.m