Spotlight on Religion: The Ancient Village of Capernaum
History of Capernaum
The ancient village of Capernaum existed along the edge of the Sea of Galilee from the 2nd century B.C. to the 7th century A.D. and was rediscovered in 1838. Jesus made Capernaum his home during the years of his ministry while Peter, Andrew, James, and John lived in the village and worked as fishermen. The tax collector Matthew lived there, as well. Capernaum is known for being one of the three cities cursed by Jesus for its lack of faith, and he gave his sermon on the bread of life in the synagogue at Capernaum.
The Franciscans restored several old churches and synagogues in the 1960’s. They also unearthed the “House of St. Peter”, which seemingly served as a meeting place for early Christians. They discovered plaster fragments bearing Christian symbols and inscriptions including the names of Jesus, Simon, and Peter there, too.
A modern church was built on top of the ruins of the House of Saint Peter in the 1990’s with a glass floor in the middle so visitors can view the original church below.
The location has been designated a national park, and the Israel Parks and Nature Authority built a dock for tourists to disembark after sailing to Capernaum from Tiberias or Ein Gev. Capernaum can also be reached by hiking the Gospel Trail or Jesus Trail. Visitors can stroll through the park’s natural and domesticated plants enjoying such species at the Christ-thorn jujube, which is said to be the species that Jesus’ crown of thorns was made from.