What to know before you register for the Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Every pilgrimage, if approached appropriately, is a sacred and important event in our spiritual life. The Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land is especially so, given the significance of the holy places visited, and the integration of the pilgrimage with the internal lives of our Church Abroad’s monastic and missionary presence across the Holy Land.

Before registering to take part in the pilgrimage, we ask all potential pilgrims to consider the following:

A Pilgrimage of the Church Abroad

This is not a tourist trip or a sight-seeing adventure: it is a spiritual pilgrimage intended to bring Orthodox Christians to a deeper repentance and love for God, growing in the Life in Christ and in the embrace of the life, customs and traditions of His Church. It is open to Orthodox Christians in good standing, who have the written blessing of their Spiritual Father to take part. (On occasion, non-Orthodox spouses of Orthodox participants may be admitted to participate, but this is strictly as space may permit.)

In visiting the Holy Places, the unique customs, heritage and practices of the ROCOR are emphasised throughout the pilgrimage: our approach to fasting, to the Divine Services, to our history, etc.

A Pilgrimage of the Diocese

We are able to accommodate a group of 50-60 pilgrims each year, and generally have many more requests than this, requiring us to utilise a waiting list. It is important to note that, as a Diocesan pilgrimage, intended in part to bring the children of the Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe together in their shared spiritual life, priority is given to registrations of individuals who are parishioners in the parishes of the Diocese. Those registering from other ROCOR Dioceses, elsewhere in the world, are given secondary priority; registrations of those from canonical Orthodox parishes of dioceses outside the Church Abroad are considered after these.

Walking abilities

There is a substantial amount of walking involved in this pilgrimage. While none of this requires the scaling of any perilous terrain, some of it is nonetheless steep (e.g. the ascent to St Chariton’s Lavra in the cliffs, or the ascent of the Mount of Temptation), some involves walking on unpaved (e.g. dirt, stone) paths; and all of it is done in a region of intense heat and humidity. It is therefore essential that pilgrims be able to walk in such conditions.


The pilgrimage is carried out in Russian and English, and pilgrims speaking either language are catered for — in terms of talks, historical information, interactions with local monastics, casual conversation amongst the pilgrims, etc. Divine Services are carried out in the local language of the monastery or church being visited (generally Church Slavonic, Greek, or Arabic). Smaller services carried out by the pilgrimage group itself (e.g. molebens, Gospel readings, akathists) are sung by the pilgrims in their local languages (Slavonic and English). Some French is also spoken, and French-speakers often participate in the pilgrimage; however, the main talks that are provided in Russian and English are not also translated into French; if you require a more substantial level of French-language guidance, we invite you to consider the annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land organised by the Dicoese’s Geneva Cathedral.