Tabgha, Church Of The Multiplication, Primacy Of Saint Peter – Full Guide

Tabgha guide starts with basics (map, opening hours), and then we tour both churches (including Church Of The Primacy Of Saint Peter). Let’s begin!

Map

Tabgha is an area located north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is positioned close to Capernaum and Church Of The Beatitudes.

Map of the area:

Seven Springs

If you translate the Hebrew name of this area, then it will be “Seven Springs”. So how did it became Tabgha?

The site’s name is derived from the Greek name Heptapegon (“seven springs”). Its pronunciation gradually changed to “Tabego”, and was eventually changed to “Tabgha” by the Arabic speakers. St. Jerome referred to Heptapegon as “the solitude” (eremos).

Source: Wikipedia

What Happened At Tabgha?

Tabgha is traditionally accepted as the place of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. And it is also the fourth resurrection appearance of Jesus (John 21:1-24) after his Crucifixion. So now, let’s visit the churches.

Church Of The Multiplication

This church has many names. Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish is the longer version of the previous name. Sometimes it is also called The Bread And Fish Church. And since the church is maintained and overseen by the Benedictine Order, sometimes people referred to it as the Benedictine church.

Miracle Of The Multiplication Of The Loaves And Fishes

“Feeding of the 5,000” miracle is reported by all four gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14).

The Feeding of the 5,000 is also known as the “miracle of the five loaves and two fish”. The Gospel of John reports that Jesus used five loaves and two small fish supplied by a boy to feed a multitude. According to Matthew’s gospel, when Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been killed, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Luke specifies that the place was near Bethsaida. The crowds followed Jesus on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus said that they did not need to go away, and therefore, the disciples were to give them something to eat. They said that they only had five loaves and two fish, which Jesus asked to be brought to him. Jesus directed the people to sit down in groups on the grass. In Mark’s Gospel, the crowds sat in groups of 50 and 100, and in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ instructions were to seat the crowd in groups of 50, implying that there were 100 such groups.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to Heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve baskets full of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. In John’s Gospel, the multitude has been attracted around Jesus because of the healing works he has performed, and the feeding of the multitude is taken as a further sign that Jesus is the Messiah, the prophet who (according to the promise in Deuteronomy 18:15) is to come into the world (John 6:14).

Source: Wikipedia

Opening Hours

Monday – Friday 8:00 – 16:45
Saturday 8:00 – 14:45
Sunday 11:00 – 16:45

Note: opening hours were updated in July 2019. In any case, recheck the official site before visiting.

Entrance Fee

Free.

Church Of The Multiplication Of The Loaves And Fish

So far we covered the essentials, and now let’s visit the church.

The interior of the church:
Church Of The Multiplication, Tabgha

One interesting detail is that the windows of the church are not made of glass. They are made from stone.

The Bread and Fish Church

Church Of The Multiplication, Tabgha

Mosaics

One of the main highlights of the church is its restored 5th-century mosaics. These are the earliest known examples of figurative floor mosaics in Christian art in the Holy Land. The mosaics in the two transepts depict various wetland birds and plants, with a prominent place given to the lotus flower. This flower, which is not indigenous to the area, suggests the artist’s use of a Nilotic landscape popular in Roman and Early Byzantine art. All the other motifs depict plants and animals from the Galilee. The mosaic found in front of the altar depicts two fish flanking a basket containing four loaves of bread.

Source: Wikipedia
Church Of The Multiplication, Tabgha

And there is a small pool with fish in the backyard.

Church Of The Multiplication, Tabgha

 

This a small compound and you can cover it within half an hour. And within a 5-minute walk, we can reach the nearby Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter.

Church Of The Primacy Of Saint Peter

The Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter is a Franciscan church, also in Tabgha. And as the name suggests, this church commemorates and allegedly marks the spot, of Jesus’ reinstatement of Peter as chief among the Apostles.

The Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, just south of the Church of the Multiplication, was built on rocks at the shore of the Sea of Galilee, traditionally considered to be the place where Jesus appeared the fourth time after his resurrection (John 21:1-24), during which, according to Catholic teaching, Jesus again conferred primacy on Simon Peter.

Source: Wikipedia

Note: Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter is sometimes called Mensa Domini Church.

Church Of The Primacy Of Saint Peter, Tabgha

Opening Hours

8:00 – 17:00 and the last entry at 16:45.

Note: opening hours were updated in July 2019. In any case, recheck the official site before visiting.

Entrance Fee

Free.

History

The modern structure was built in 1933 and incorporated parts of an earlier 4th-century church. At the base of its walls, opposite the main altar, foundations of the 4th-century church are visible. In the 9th century, the church was referred to as the Place of the Coals. This name refers to the incident of Jesus’ preparation of the meal for the apostles, building a charcoal fire on which to cook the fish. Also first mentioned in the year 808 is the “Twelve Thrones,” a series of heart-shaped stones, which were placed along the shore to commemorate the Twelve Apostles.

The church survived longer than any other in the area, finally being destroyed in 1263. The present Franciscan chapel was built on the site in 1933. This church was included in the itineraries of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II during their visits to Israel in 1964 and March 2000 respectively.

Source: Wikipedia

Church Of The Primacy Of Saint Peter and Sea of Galilee:

Church Of The Primacy Of Saint Peter, Tabgha

Church Of The Primacy Of Saint Peter interior:

Church Of The Primacy Of Saint Peter, Tabgha

The church contains a projection of limestone rock in front of the present altar which is venerated as a “Mensa Christi,” Latin for the table of Christ. According to tradition, this is the spot where Jesus is said to have laid out a breakfast of bread and fish for the Apostles and told Peter to “Feed my sheep” after the miraculous catch, the third time he appeared to them after his resurrection. (John 21:1-24) It is disputed whether this table or the one enshrined at the nearby Church of the Multiplication, is the one mentioned by the pilgrim Egeria in her narrative of the Holy Land circa 380. There is also another table of Christ enshrined at the Mensa Christi Church in Nazareth.

Source: Wikipedia

Summary

Tabgha is a lovely place for a short visit. Moreover, there are many interesting places nearby. For example Capernaum and Church Of The Beatitudes. And you can find the full list of nearby attractions at Sea of Galilee post.

 

Have you ever been to Tabgha? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned! 
 

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers:

And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.
 

Did not find what you were looking for? Email me at hi@israel-in-photos.com, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

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