Tag Archives: Israel

Capernaum, Part 1

Capernaum figured largely in Jesus’ ministry.

The church is built over the excavation of a house that was used church by early Jewish Christians in mid to late first century.

The church offers a commanding view of the synagogue built over the one in which Jesus preached.

Surrounding the synagogue are excavated remains of first century homes.

Under the glass floor of the modern church are the excavations of a fifth century church and also a fourth century synagogue, and under that was a first century house church, called the “House of Peter,” where there were discovered hundreds of Christian inscriptions in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew saying Jesus, Lord, and Peter.

The altar where we offered Mass.

Excavations in the early 20th century revealed a fourth century synagogue.

The fourth century synagogue was built over the first century synagogue where Jesus preached. Notice the basalt foundation of the synagogue from the time of Jesus.


Approaching Masada.

View of the dead Sea from Masada. This was the last stand of the Jews during the Bar Kochba revolt of 135.

Herod the great fortified Masada and created a luxurious palace for himself.

These are frescoes preserved from the first century.

This circular structure was part of the palace.

A commanding view.

Part of the elaborate bath system.

The caldarium which heated the water from below.

The furnace.

The exterior furnace.

Church of Saint Stephen

We arrived early in the morning to celebrate Mass at the church of Saint Stephen, the first martyr.

The interior of the church built over the ruins of a 4th century church dedicated to his memory, the Church of Saint Stephen.


Saint Luke

Saint Joseph

Saint Jerome

Saint Mary Magdalene

Saint Catherine of Siena

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Dominic

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Dormition Abbey Part 3

King David.

The Dormition Abbey .

The dome structure was built by the Muslims.

The Muslims recycled a column with a capital that depicts a pelican feeding her young with her blood which is a symbol of Christ who feeds us in the Eucharist.

Pope Saint John Paul II celebrated Mass here in 2000 and gave the sculpture as a gift that witnesses to peace.

The current structure was built during the crusade period. It was the southern gallery of the church of Saint Mary of Zion. Later it was turned into a mosque. Notice the 16th century mihrab or prayer niche facing Mecca.

The Upper Room. Although this is not the original location this is where we commemorate the Last Supper.

Agni Parthene – Oh Pure Virgin Orthodox hymn sung by Eikona – performed in Greek and English.

The Dormition of the Virgin Mary

In the center of the floor mosaics in the upper church is the symbol of the Triune God.

The eight prophets who foretold the coming of Jesus.


The penultimate circle has the evangelists and the signs of the zodiac.

   The circle quotes Proverbs 8:23-25.

Ab aeterno ordita sum et ex antiquis antequam terra fieret
necdum erant abyssi et ego iam concepta eram necdum fontes aquarum eruperant
necdum montes gravi mole constiterant ante colles ego parturiebar.

Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth.

The crypt of the Abbey. The main altar which depicts our Lady as Queen of the Apostles on Pentecost. The inscription says:

Et factus est repente de caelo sonus tamquam advenientis spiritus vehementis et replevit totam domum…

And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house…


A life size statue of the sleeping Virgin made of rosewood and ivory.


The mosaic shows Jesus ready to receive the Virgin Mary into heaven. Notice the six women from the Bible: Eve, Miriam, Jael, Judith, Ruth, and Esther.

The main altar.

Dormition Abbey

This is Dormition Abbey, on Mount Sion where tradition says Mary was assumed into heaven from this place.

Below are side altars in the main church.


(This is John the Baptist. His banner reads “Behold the Lamb of God.”).

Queen of the Prophets, Daughter of David.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse.

Queen of the Patriarchs, Pray for us.

Saint Peter in Gallicantu

On the way to the church where Peter denied Christ three times.

Saint Peter in Gallicantu, which commemorates the three time denial of Peter at Caiaphas’ palace. Notice the rooster on the dome.

And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. ~ Luke22:59-62

Excavations around the house give some strength to the fact that this was his palace.

petering-014204cuThe mural says “I give you the keys of the kingdom.”

The excavated road from the time of Christ which is from the gate to Mount Sion is certainly the one Jesus walked.

Notice the finger of Jesus does not point to them but to us.

The pit where Jesus was placed.


“I do not know him”. ~Luke 22:57


“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” ~John 21:17

The altar where we celebrated Mass.
The caves under the church that served as prison in the times of Jesus.