Church of the Primacy of St. Peter
The Church of the Primacy of St. Peter is dedicated to the Bestowal of Primacy and is an essential stop on any Christian tour of Israel. It was originally established by the Crusaders in Tiberias and has been restored in modern times. Domed ceilings are decorated with artwork depicting biblical scenes, while domed windows feature stained glass decorations. Visually, the Petrine Primacy narrative from the Book of John is explored here extensively.
In front of the altar, visitors will see a projection of a limestone rock, venerated as a Mensa Christi. This is one of the spots traditionally thought to be the location where Jesus laid out a breakfast of bread and fish cooked on coals for the Apostles. The Crusader church was built on this site to commemorate the event and was called Place of the Coals.
The current church was built by the Franciscans on the ruins of the ancient one. If you look carefully at the base of the walls opposite the altar, you can still spot the original foundations. The Franciscans named it Church of the Primacy, to commemorate the favoring of Peter by Jesus. This event has been interpreted by the Catholic Church to give the Pope (successor of Peter) authority over the worldwide church. Due to its significance, Pope Paul VI included the church on his Holy Land tour in 1964.
The church serves as a center for the small Christian community in the mostly Jewish contemporary city of Tiberias. Mass is held daily, and Christian holidays are celebrated with the community. Major celebrations take place on the Sunday before the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Pilgrimage groups wishing to celebrate mass in the sanctuary should book in advance.