With the current war in Israel resulting in the cancellation of many planned tours and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, the Magdala Tourist Center in the biblical town of Magdala is offering a “virtual pilgrimage” during Advent to help bring the Holy Land to those who cannot get there in person.

Dubbed the “Star of Wonder Advent Pilgrimage of Peace,” the free virtual pilgrimage began on Sunday, December 3, the first Sunday of Advent. Videos are available on Magdala’s YouTube page.

The pilgrimage consists of videos from different locations throughout Israel and Palestine, all of which are significant to the story of Jesus’ birth. A different video will be released each Sunday, the Magdala Tourist Center told Fox News Digital.

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In addition to Magdala, believed to be the birthplace and hometown of Mary Magdalene, “stops” on the pilgrimage include the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem; Nazareth; and Bethlehem, the location of the birth of Christ

The Church of the Visitation is built on the traditional location of the meeting between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth as told in the Gospel of Luke. 

star of wonder advent pilgrimage of peace logo

The virtual “Star of Wonder Advent Pilgrimage of Peace” aims to help fill the spiritual gap left by canceled pilgrimages during the Israel-Hamas war.  (Magdala)

Overseen by Kathleen Nichols, director of Magdala Media’s English team, the pilgrimage videos will also include reflections on the biblical meaning of peace, said a press release from Magdala Media. 

“Kathleen and her small team made the journey into Palestine to film the now-empty sites connected with Christ’s birth, hoping that virtual pilgrims can fill them with prayers for peace from all over the world,” said the release. 

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“The staff at Magdala feel blessed to have this opportunity to bring followers closer to Christ during the 2023 Advent Season,” said the release. 

The aim of the pilgrimage is “answering not what is peace, or how to attain peace — but rather, who is peace,” Nichols told Fox News Digital. 

Kathleen Nichols in a cave

Kathleen Nichols stands in a cave in Nazareth, the hometown of the Virgin Mary. Nichols will “take” pilgrims there on a virtual pilgrimage during Advent. (Magdala)

The answer, of course, is the “Prince of Peace,” Jesus Christ. 

“Two months ago, the conflict inspired this initiative,” she said.

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In addition to the videos, a companion booklet is available for pilgrims. 

This booklet includes additional prayers, such as “A Litany for Peace in Troubled Times,” and a calendar of daily scripture passages and meditations. 

“It’s an opportunity to have some strong, systematic contact with the sites of the Holy Land, which brings the scriptures alive.”

The Star of Wonder Advent Pilgrimage of Peace follows several other virtual pilgrimages hosted by Magdala during the coronavirus pandemic, Fr. Eamon Kelly, LC, vice director of Magdala, told Fox News Digital. 

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During the pandemic, foreign pilgrims were unable to travel to Israel and Palestine. 

Kathleen Nichols in Bethlehem

One of the “stops” on the virtual pilgrimage is the birthplace of Jesus Christ (seen above) in Bethlehem. (Magdala)

“Our experience has been very rewarded by the benefit for so many people who would have loved to have been here during the period of COVID, and who were able to live the sites of the Holy Land,” said Kelly. 

The virtual pilgrimage provides spiritual benefit not only to those who cannot physically go to the Holy Land, but also for those who have visited in the past, said Kelly. 

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“For those who have experienced it already, it’s a real refresher of the delight and the grace they received when they’re here, and it refreshes their contact with the scriptures,” he said.

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“For those who are not able to come, or never able to come, it’s an opportunity to have some strong, systematic contact with the sites of the Holy Land, which brings the scriptures alive,” said Kelly. 

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“Then God gives His grace — which is His doing,” he added. 

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