By Yvonne Blackwood ~
In keeping with the previous blog theme of architecture and religious sites, this week we will spotlight an amazing structure in Capernaum. On a recent tour of the Holy Land, I spent some time in Capernaum. It was a fishing village established during the ruling dynasty of Judea—between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE. Located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the town officials are by no means subtle in ensuring that you know the significance of the place—as you enter two conspicuous signs state, “Capharnaum The Town of Jesus.”
According to the biblical text Jesus left Nazareth and moved to Capernaum which became the centre of his activities in Galilee. He taught in the synagogue there. The ruins of the ancient Great Synagogue, said to be built in 4th century over two previous synagogues (one of these Jesus taught in) are still there today.
Capernaum was also the home of some of the apostles—namely—Peter, James, John and Matthew. The intriguing story of Jesus healing the man with palsy who was lowered through the roof (Mark 2 & Luke 5) took place in Capernaum.
The most interesting architecture that I saw in Capernaum is the Church of St. Peter. An octagonal building constructed in 1990, the project took into consideration the need to protect the holiness of the location and to preserve the memory of the Peter’s home and the places where Jesus preached. The structure is built right over the ruins of Peter’s house and a 5th century church. Pilgrims are able to observe the archaeological ruins of Peter’s house and the successive constructions, from a street-level path that passes beneath the structure. The upper level has a quadrangular oculus through which the site can be viewed from above.
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