One of the holiest Catholic shrines in Israel, Tabgha, situated on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, was the unfortunate site of a destructive fire, which broke out last week in several places inside the church, causing the roof to collapse. Firefighters doused the fire and treated two people for minor smoke inhalation. The fire is being considered a nationalist crime that was set deliberately. Hebrew graffiti from a Jewish prayer the mentions the elimination of idol worship was painted in rep paint on a wall just outside the church.
The mosaic inside the floor at the Church
Christians believe that Tabgha is the site where Jesus performed the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes. The site is an extremely popular pilgrimage site to many of the 2.3 million Christians who travel to the Holy Land annually. According to Father Gregory Collins who iis the head of the Benedictine Order that runs the church, approximately 5,000 Christians visit the site daily.
Seaside at Tabgha photo courtesy Travelujah-Holy Land tours
A fifth century mosaic floor including one depicting two fish flanking a basket of bread loaves is depicted within the mosaic that was uncovered in the floor of the church. In addition to visiting the actual church on the premises, many Christians take time to walk down to the shore of the Sea of Galilee to touch the waters and to enjoy time for prayer and meditation beneath the shade of the outdoor chapel area.
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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land Tours, the leading Christian travel network focused on connecting Christians to Israel. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.