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The Shepherd's Guild

The Holy Land - Nazareth & Northern Israel

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above photo: Mount Tabor

Known colloquially among the Greek Orthodox worshippers of Galilee whom it serves as Kniset el-Rūm, or Church of the Eastern Romans in Levantine Arabic, the church is located over an underground spring, which according to Eastern Orthodox belief is where the Virgin Mary was drawing water at the time of the Annunciation. Water from the spring still runs inside the apse of the church and also fed the adjacent site of Mary's Well, located 150 yards (140 m) away.


The Church of St. Gabriel is the Orthodox counterpart to the Catholic
Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. According to Orthodox tradition, the Virgin Mary first received the news from Gabriel that she would bear the Savior while she was out fetching water. The Orthodox Church of St. Gabriel is therefore located over the spring that fed Mary's Well, the traditional place where Mary fetched water for her household.


Biblical tradition In
Christian tradition, the event by which Mary was informed by the angel Gabriel of God's intention to make her the mother of Jesus is known as the Annunciation. In the New Testament of the Bible, in the Book of Luke (1:27-35), it is written that Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth,

to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was
Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!": But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
He will be great, and be called the Son of the Most High;
and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
And he will reign over the house of
Jacob forever;
And of his kingdom there will be no end."
And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her,
"The
Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be born will be called holy,
the Son of God."

While it mentions the town of Nazareth, the Book of Luke omits mention of details that might help to identify the precise location of this event therein. However, the
Protoevangelium of James, a 2nd-century apocryphal text, states that, "She took the jar and went out to fetch water. Then a voice spoke to her: 'Greetings, you who have received grace. The Lord is with you, you blessed among women.'"The text continues to state that having looked around and seen no one, Mary returned home, placed the jar of water aside, and began to spin, whereupon the angel appeared before her to continue to inform of her appointed role.[1]

There are 18 churches of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation is located over the cave that is believed to have been Mary's home. The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciiation is located over the spring where it is believed that Mary first heard the angel Gabriel's voice. This spring, which is mentioned in the writings of pilgrims to Nazareth over the centuries, is also thought to be where the six-year old Jesus was sent by his mother to fetch water, as is recorded in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas.

  • The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth is a modern Catholic church built over the remains of Byzantine and Crusader churches. It incorporates the cave in which the Virgin Mary received the news from Gabriel that she would give birth to Jesus. The site has been a pilgrimage destination since earliest times and remains an important stop for Holy Land pilgrims today.History of Basilica of the Annunciation Early sources on Nazareth's history are scarce, but Eusebius says Nazareth was a small Jewish town in the Roman and Byzantine periods. Evidence of Jewish converts to Christianity in Nazareth is provided by the historian Africanus in the 3rd century and pilgrimage to Nazareth is first attested in the late 4th century.

The cave that is enshrined inside the basilica was identified no later than the 4th century as the place of the Annunciation. It is not known when the first church was built here, but one probably existed by the early 4th century. An altar is referred to in c.384 AD and a church is mentioned by c.570 AD.

A Byzantine church has been excavated beneath the current church, which dates from the 4th or 5th century. It had three aisles, a single projecting apse and a large atrium. A small monastery was built south of the church. Inc.680, the pilgrim Arculf recorded seeing two churches in Nazareth, one at Mary's spring and the other on the traditional site of the Annunciation, where the basilica stands today.

The Byzantine church on the site of the Annunciation survived as late as the 9th century, when 12 monks associated with the church are mentioned in the Commemoratorium of 808 AD. The church was apparently destroyed before or during the Crusades; the Abbot Daniel recorded in 1106-08 that it had been laid waste but thoroughly rebuilt by Tancred and the Franks.

The Crusader church was larger than the Byzantine church over which it was built. The church had three aisles and six bays, probably with a crossing covered by a dome fronting three apses. An edicule in the north aisle covered the House of Mary on a lower level. Much money and effort was put into the decoration of the Crusader church, which included magnificent capitals carved with scenes from the lives of the Apostles by French craftsmen. There were monastery buildings on the south side and a bishop's palace on the north side.

After the Battle of the Horns of Hattin in 1187, the Christian inhabitants of Nazareth took refuge in the church but were slaughtered. The church was thereby profaned, but it was left standing. In 1192, Salah al-Din allowed a few clergy to return and granted Christian access to the shrine. St. Louis made a pilgrimage here in 1251.

However, in 1263, an emir of Baybars attacked Nazareth and razed the church to the ground. Pilgrims were still allowed to visit the grotto (which was venerated also by Muslims), but in 1283 Christians were explicitly forbidden to rebuild the church. By the 14th century, pilgrims were charged an entrance fee by the Muslims guarding the grotto. The site of the church was filled with garbage and was later used for stabling cattle.

The Franciscans established a monastery in Nazareth in the 14th century and appear to have gained control of the holy site for a period in the mid-16th century. They restored and occupied the former bishop's palace and began to repair the church in 1620. However, they were expelled several times throughout the 1600s. In 1730 the Franciscans finally completed a new church, which was enlarged in 1871.

The Franciscan church was demolished in 1955 for the construction of the present church, which was built over the Crusader and Byzantine foundations. It was consecrated in 1969. Today, the Basilica of the Annunciation is the parish church for 7,000 Catholic Christians in Nazareth and the focal point of Catholic and Protestant pilgrimages.

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The Greek Orthodox Church (Monastery) of St. Elias on Mount Tabor

The Church of the Transfiguration - Latin is a Franciscan church located on Mount Tabor in Israel. It is traditionally believed to be the site where the Transfiguration of Christ took place, an event in the Gospels in which Jesus is transfigured upon an unnamed mountain and speaks with Moses and Elijah.

The current church, part of a Franciscan monastery complex, was completed in 1924. The architect was Antonio Barluzzi It was built on the ruins of an ancient (4th–6th-century) Byzantine church and a 12th-century church of the Crusader Kingdom period.There is a Greek Orthodox church located on Mount Tabor as well, dedicated to the same purpose

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The Sea of Galilee, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles

The Church of the Twelve Apostles (also called "The Church of the Apostles”), located in the north-western corner of Capernaum (Kfar Nahum) on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, is a Greek Orthodox Church and as such it is elegant and beautiful and built in the shape of a cross. The walls of the Church of the Twelve Apostles are white and it features distinctive bright pink colored domes. The name of the Church of the Twelve Apostles, which was built in 1931, points at an important local event- according to Christian tradition it was in this area that Jesus chose his twelve Apostles. Those who will not be satisfied with an outside view of the Church of the Twelve Apostles and enter it will discover beautiful frescos that are filled with elements taken from the New Testament. And if you are already here, it is very much recommended to visit the nearby "Tayelet HaBsora” (Gospel Promenade) and the other churches of Capernaum (Kfar Nahum) as well. Arrival at the Church of the Twelve Apostles: the Church of the Twelve Apostles is located not far from the entrance to the Kfar Nahum (Capernaum) National Park, which one can reach from Kfar Nahum Junction which is on road number 87.