Day 20: Spiritual Day at Capernaum, Church of the Primacy of Peter, & Magdala!

Day 20 of Andy’s month-long ‘Spiritual Journey to Israel & Palestine was the first day of a New Year—January 1st, 2019! It seemed like the first day of a new spiritual life too!

It was New Year's Day at Capernaum and admission was FREE! Everything is always FREE with Jesus!

It was New Year’s Day at Capernaum and admission was FREE! Everything is always FREE with Jesus!

Visiting Capernaum, Tabgha (Church of the Primacy of Peter), and Magdala, all in close proximity along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, simply overwhelmed me spiritually and blew me up & away into another dimension of life. This one day generated six Biblical Moments! What a day for my Splendid Spiritual Self! TROML Baby!

Capernaum is the heart and soul of Jesus’ 3-year ministry which mainly transpired along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The recovered archaeological structures there—mainly the Temple—transport you quickly into the Biblical Time of Jesus. You can sense His Spirit there, feel the Power of The Holy Spirit and literally stand in the Presence of God.

In the Temple with Jesus... I could sense him preaching here!

In the Temple with Jesus… I could sense him preaching here!

This is where Jesus, pretty much exiled from Nazareth (Mount of Precipice experience after reading Scripture in the synagogue and revealing that he was the Anointed One,) came to live in Peter’s house. The ruins of the House of St. Peter are exposed and encompassed within the walls of a 5th Century Octagonal Byzantine Church. Both lie beneath the modern Church of the Octagonal dedicated in 1990 as a Memorial to all that lies below. The floor of the altar is plexiglass allowing one a bird’s eye view of St. Peter’s House and the 5th century church below!

Octagonal Church above Peter's House in Capernaum...

Octagonal Church above Peter’s House in Capernaum…

Why an Octagon-shaped Church? According to Agape Bible Study, for Jews 8 was the number which symbolized salvation, rebirth and regeneration: 8 members of Noah’s family were saved in the time of the Great Flood and it was on the 8th day of his life that a boy child was circumcised, signifying his entrance into the covenant family of Israel, the chosen people of God.  But for early Christians 8 was the number which symbolized the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the formation of the New Covenant.  Jesus was raised on the day after the 7th day, which was the Sabbath, making Jesus Resurrection on the 8th day, Sunday, which was the first day of the week and the day of the New Creation just as the old Creation also began on what is the first day of the week.  It is for this reason that Christian churches built during the Byzantine period were 8-sided structures. 

Remains of Peter's House surrounded by Octagonal Church from the 5th century!

Remains of Peter’s House surrounded by Octagonal Church from the 5th century!

The rediscovery of the ruins of St. Peter’s house in Capernaum was verified by the identification of a central room used for Christian worship which was reconfigured as an 8-sided room. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the significance of the number 8 for Christians in article # 349: The eighth day.  But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ’s Resurrection.  The seventh day completes the first creation.  The eight day begins the new creation.  Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption.  The first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first creation.

The Sea of Galilee...

The Sea of Galilee…

The third component of the town of Capernaum so moving to me was the Sea of Galilee. Just like Jesus did you can walk out on its shores and enjoy a contemplative moment. A calm day with no waves just ripples of water approaching the beach of pebbles and rocks.

Coming back from the sea is a large courtyard with a statue of St. Peter with the Matthew 16:18 inscription “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My church,” which led me to my next stop on this New Year’s Day!

The Church of the Primacy of Peter right on the shores of the Sea of Galilee...

The Church of the Primacy of Peter right on the shores of the Sea of Galilee…

The Church of the Primacy of Peter! Peter was the one and only one Jesus choose to build His Church upon! Just a bit south on the shore from Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee this too is a contemplative and restorative place. Here I took off my socks and shoes and waded into the Sea of Galilee just a little bit. Biblical waters I went in now include the Red Sea, Dead Sea, Jordan River, and the Sea of Galilee. I made it into the Mediterranean Sea too!


As day light was fading I arrived too late at Tabgha the place of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and where Jesus appeared after His Resurrection.

Further down the road on the way home to the Panorama Hotel in Tiberias I saw a sign for Magdala so I stopped and was happy to learn that it was open for a few more hours past dark. The home of Mary Magdalene, Magdala dates back to the third century BC.

The first century Synagogue at Magdala...

The first century Synagogue at Magdala…

The synagogue and surrounding town were likely quite affluent from the fishing industry as evidenced by numerous mosaics and private purification baths in some of the houses. In the synagogue was found the Magdala Stone which represented the Temple of Jerusalem. The market area was extensive and the harbor much closer than where the Sea of Galilee is today which is within a couple hundred yards of Magdala.

As magnificent as the archaeological park is, the Duc in Altum which commemorates the Public Life of Jesus is even more striking! The modern and artistic building houses the Women’s Atrium, the Boat Chapel, four Mosaic Chapels and an Encounter Chapel.

Duc In Altum... Atrium with Eight Women Pillars and the Boat Chapel...

Duc In Altum… Atrium with Eight Women Pillars and the Boat Chapel…

The Women’s Atrium features eight pillars representing the seven women mentioned in the Bible plus women of faith across all time. The Boat Chapel is directly above the first century port and features a replica boat from Jesus’ time as its altar. Very interesting and spiritual place of worship. The four Mosaic Chapels are for Mary Magdelene, Jesus Walking of Water, the Daughter of Jairus and Fishers of Men. And the Encounter Chapel is modeled after the Magdala First Century Temple.

Magdala is definitely ‘the Crossroads of Jewish and Christian History!’

A full day indeed and one of the most amazing spiritual days of my life!


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