We awoke to a very pleasant day with a sunny, cool breeze. After a buffet breakfast, we drove down into old Nazareth to explore Jesus hometown. As we meandered through the narrow streets, our first stop was one of two sights laying claim to be the area where Mary was greeted by the Angel to announce that she was the chosen one to carry and birth Jesus. The first site belongs to the Greek Orthodox church. They claim Mary was at the one town drinking water well when she received the news. This well is now part of a church of course. The second site at the purported house of Mary located in the crypt of the Basilica of the Annunciation.
excavated by the Franciscans. They found an inscription that reads: “I have come here to venerate Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” This site witnessed multiple destruction and re-buildings. In 1960 Israel gave the permit to build the Basilica which took 9 years. Maybe the Angel visited Mary twice to give her time to reflect before saying yes. Around the corner is a sculpture of Joseph on the grounds of a church that claims in the crypt is a cave where Joseph had his workshop. How about that! I never imaged people of Nazareth living in caves.
We also saw a very simple stone chapel that experts believe was a 6th century synagogue. There are no other spots in Nazareth where they have found an earlier one. Eventually it was abandoned then discovered by the Franciscans who gave it to the Eastern rite
Melkite Catholic Church. So maybe this is the site that fits that gospel story of Jesus reading the scroll of Isaiah that alerts to the signs of the Messiah- proclaiming the release of prisoners..good news to the poor..etc. and then said that the Scriptures have been fulfilled which caused an uproar leading to Jesus hastily leaving Nazareth before he is hurt. This was my favorite spot today. . So peaceful. I was imagining Jesus today causing commotion over the treatment of the poor, the oppression of different groups in this world, the vast amount of folks in prisons,etc. What would he say about the divisions in these lands that he travelled?
We had lunch at a restaurant that served multi-courses of soup, salad, spaghetti and then roasted beef in a sauce with a macaroon like cookie. Our last stop was a delightful tour given by this witty older Irish nun of the ruins below their house and church that shows different stone construction eras…Byzantine, Crusader and a first century cave structure that she claims maybe the home of the holy family. Check out the photos.
Today, Nazareth is a population of 80,000 with 50,000 Muslim and the rest Christian. It is called: “The Arab capital of Israel.” We finished early today so some could wander and others rest. I chose rest and blogging. All these churches tire me out. I’m looking forward to the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum and the Mt of the Beatitudes which will be our last full day before a early morning ride to the airport in Tel Aviv due to a change by the airlines.