The Basilica of Annunciation
The Basilica of Annunciation is a must-see destination on your Christian tour of the Holy Land, since it was built on the site where the angel Gabriel informed Mary of the impending birth of Jesus. The church, located in Nazareth, is the Roman Catholic place of worship and a shrine to this event. A Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation is located nearby and worthy of visiting as well.
The Catholic church has been built and rebuilt many times in Nazareth over the centuries, with traces of the previous incarnations visible to contemporary pilgrims visiting the site. The modern church was constructed virtually from scratch in 1969 and decorated with plentiful artwork. The front door here is engraved with scenes from the life of Jesus, and a Japanese mosaic of Madonna and Child has been installed in the upper chapel. The cupola is designed as an inverted lily, a symbol of Mary's purity.
The lower chapel includes a sunken grotto, which contains the cave traditionally believed to have been home to the Virgin Mary. The cave is flanked by remnants of the earlier churches, and inside it is an altar with a Latin inscription. To the left of the altar is a mosaic with the words, "Gift of Conon, deacon of Jerusalem."
Mass takes place every day in the church in Arabic and Latin. Pilgrimage tour groups can book a private mass in advance. A guided tour offers a historical and spiritual perspective on the significance of the shrine.
A small archaeological museum attached to the church displays artifacts from the history of the Holy Land, from the days of the Old Testament to the Crusader period.