Capernaum–Town of Jesus

We traveled north along the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee to Kfar Nakhum / Capernaum, known as the town of Jesus. He was of course from Nazareth, but after Herod Antipas arrested John the Baptist, Jesus came to Capernaum on the seaward road in Galilee which connects Damascus and Syria in the east to the Mediterranean in the west and Phoenicia and Egypt in the south. Today Capernaum is in ruins. A hundred years ago, excavations discovered the house of Peter which was a few feet from the local synagogue. The site of the house of Peter was also where at least three other structures were built, indicating its significance to the early Christian community. Today a church is built over the original site. This was where we celebrated Mass at 9:00 AM today.

I was especially moved to be celebrating Mass at the site where Jesus gathered his disciples at the home of Peter many times throughout his ministry. The 8 mile stretch between Tabgha and Kfar Nakhum is where Jesus spent the bulk of his earthly ministry. And today we celebrated the Mass of the Holy Eucharist. Peter surely heard Jesus proclaim himself to be the Bread of Life for the first time in Capernaum. And on the site of his home centuries later, other structures would be built because it was sacred to the memory of early Christians. And today, it is sacred to us as well.

After Mass we visited the synagogue next door. Other structures nearby are of black stone. The ruins of the synagogue are white stone indicating its importance to the local community.

The accessible area stretches around the synagogue to the shore. There is also an outdoor altar between the church and the shore which probably is used when the weather is warmer.

On the way back to the bus we pass the bronze statue of St. Peter, the Franciscan residence, and a replicated mosaic on the plaza from the 5th century church built on the same site as the home of St. Peter.

A short ride from the home of St. Peter is the Kfar Nakhum State Park from where we took a boat ride to the Yigal Allon Centre. The Centre houses the remains of the hull of a 2000 year old boat found by two fishermen brothers in 1986 when the Sea of Galilee underwent a period of severe drought. Because it was found to be about 2000 years old, it is also known as the Jesus boat. But there is no direct evidence Jesus ever owned a boat or if this one was in any way connected to him or his disciples. But it makes for a good story.

And upon our return to the hotel, a meal of fried fish and chips. Tilapia, also known as the Jesus fish, is abundant in the Sea of Galilee, and likely a common meal since the time of Jesus.

After a short rest, we headed out to two more sites.

Rolo B Castillo © 2023


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