The Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land take us on a tour of the archaeological discoveries found in the New Testament town.
A virtual pilgrimage to Capernaum, the ancient fishing village where Jesus lived, is now available online thanks to the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land.
The Franciscans have served as caretakers of holiest sites in the history of Christianity since the 14th century, when Pope Clement VI assigned them the role of official custodians.
For centuries Catholic pilgrims to the Holy Land have sought out the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land as guides to the holy places where Jesus and his Apostles walked. Now, thanks in part to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Franciscans have made these pilgrimages virtual, with videos of guided tours of the most significant sites in the Holy Land.
Among the holy sites under their jurisdiction is the archaeological site of Capernaum. Known as “the town of Jesus,” the ancient village of Capernaum served as Jesus’ base during his three-year ministry.
A virtual pilgrimage to Capernaum
In this video, the Franciscans take us to the archaeological site located on the northwest shore of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). We learn that at this site, from 1968 to 2003, 23 excavation campaigns were carried.
It was here that archaeologists discovered an octagonal Byzantine church used until the the 7th century. A dwelling located underneath that church was identified as the “House of Simon Peter,” based on archaeological data backed up by literary sources.
In the video, Brother Stanislaus Loffreda, one of the witnesses to the discovery, talks about finding St. Peter’s house.
“There I really felt that as an archaeologist I had to confess, I was moved. I saw that what they had said in the literary sources corresponded accurately. The writings say that the House of Peter was turned into a church, although the walls are as they were in the past,” Br. Loffreda said.
Capernaum: Site of many miracles
As we learn on the virtual pilgrimage, archaeologists discovered a synagogue at Capernaum, which they determined to be the site of the “Eucharistic Promise.” This was the place where Jesus talked to his disciples (John 6) about the bread of life, following the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
In addition to the miracle of the loaves and fishes, there were several other miracles that took place in Capernaum during Jesus’ public ministry according to the Gospels. The Centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13), a paralytic (Mark 2:1-12), and a court official’s son were all cured there (John 4:46-54).
An echo of Jesus and the Apostles
Until we can once again freely travel to the Holy Land, the virtual pilgrimages the Franciscan brothers have put together are the next best thing to walking in the footsteps of Jesus and his followers.
Br. Francesco Patton, ofm, of the Custody of the Holy Land, explains in the video, “When we read the pages of the Gospels and we can visit these places, it is as if we can still see and hear Jesus and the Apostles somehow speaking and being alive.”
To learn more about the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land, visit https://www.custodia.org/en