Depicted in the New Testament as the childhood home of Christ, Nazareth is a hub of Christianity in the Holy Land.
A prime destination for Christian pilgrimages, Nazareth is home to countless churches and monasteries each belonging to a different Christian order or denominations. The majority of these shrines are named after and dedicated to Biblical events surrounding Christ's life.
While Nazareth is currently the largest Arab-populated city in Israel, many of its Arab residents are Christian. Like the Arab-Christians that call Nazareth home, the city's monasteries are home to a wide range of clergymen and monks who come from all over the world to live and worship in the Holy Land.
With its rich history carved into the life of Christ, the city of Nazareth is a prime destination and one not to be missed when on a Bible land tour to Israel.
Nazareth - A visit to the Church of the Annunciation
Of its many religious sights, the Church of the Annunciation is Nazareth's most prominent Christian shrine. The largest church in the whole of the Middle East, the Church of the Annunciation marks the place where the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she is carrying God's child.
Over the centuries artifacts has surfaced suggesting that the Annunciation Scene in effect took place elsewhere. Still, the common belief of the Roman Catholic order remains true to the word as it appears in the Gospel of Luke, whereby the event of bringing the news to Mary took place on the very grounds where the Church of the Annunciation was later built.
Nazareth - A Trip to St. Gabriel's Church
An alternative to the Roman Catholic belief that the Annunciation Scene took place in the center of Nazareth is provided by the Eastern Orthodox church. Contending the Roman Catholic belief, the Easter Orthodox church positioned the Annunciation in a location somewhat removed from the city center.
In accordance with their belief, the Greek Orthodox order built St. Gabriel's Church. The Byzantine-styled cathedral thus marks the place where the angel Gabriel appeared before Mary.
Whether adhering to one order or the other, both churches are exceptional in their style and historic background and must not be overlooked when on a tour to the Holy Land.
Nazareth - Come See the Synagogue Church
Also belonging to the Greek Orthodox denomination is the Synagogue Church . Though its name may seem like a playful oxymoron, the Synagogue Church is hardly a merge of two religions. On the contrary, what was in Biblical times a Jewish synagogue was turned into a Christian church during the rule of Constantine the great over Palestine.
Despite turning the Jewish place of worship into a Christian one, the Greek Orthodox order which came to run it maintained the late synagogue's external appearance and remained true to the synagogue's history.
To this day, church officials claim that it was in this Nazareth synagogue that Christ gave his sermons to the Israelites. It was here, furthermore, that he performed many of his miracles.
Nazareth - Two More Churches Commemorating Christ's Life
When on a Holy Land tour to Israel it is customary to visit a variety of churches belonging to different orders. Touring the city of Nazareth is a surefire way to see places of worship for all denominations.
Two churches belonging to smaller denominations yet well worth a visit are the Church of St. Joseph's Carpentry and the Mensa Christi Church.
The Church of St. Joseph the Carpenter is built over a grotto wherein the ruins of Joseph's workshop can be found. When visiting the church, notice that the altar stands directly above the blessed ruins.
The Church of Mensa Christi, owned and run by the Franciscan order, commemorates the place where Jesus dined alongside his twelve apostles after his Resurrection.