Monday, June 29, 2015

The Church of the Loaves and Fishes

A STORY OF REVERSALS OF FORTUNE: A history of the Church of Loaves and Fishes: Burned down, again. Originally built in the 4th century, the ancient church was lost to time, rediscovered in the early 20th century and rebuilt – only to be badly damaged by fire last week (Elon Gilad, Haaretz). Excerpts:
On Wednesday night [i.e., a week ago Wednesday - JRD], the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, suffered serious damage that the police suspect was caused by arson: Hebrew graffiti found on the site read “False idols will be smashed.” The church was only 33 years old, but was built on the same site of the first church built to mark the spot more than 1600 years ago.


The gospels do not say exactly where this miracle happened, beyond Luke’s account that it was in “a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.” We are not sure where Bethsaida was either. But during the first three centuries of the Common Era, a tradition developed among local early Christians that the rock formation by the side of the road on the northwestern corner of the Sea of Galilee was the site of the miracle.

First church, 4th century: Founded by the convert Josepos

In the middle of the 4th century CE, a small church was erected on the site, possibly by a convert named Josepos.


Second church, 5th century: The Egyptian custom

During the second half of the 5th century, a much larger Byzantine church was built on the site of the original church. The patron of the construction project was Martyrios, the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Background on the heinous destruction of the church is here and links.

UPDATE: Thousands of Christians hold protest rally outside burned Galilee church (Peter Kenny, Ecumenical News).
Thousands of Christians have held a protest rally in the Galilee, near the historic church in northern Israel that was seriously damaged after a suspected arson attack which included anti-Christian sentiment scrawled in Hebrew on a wall.

The Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha was set on fire early on June 17 and the suspected hate crime drew fierce condemnation from Israeli leaders from major political parties, The Times of Israel reported.

Yes, the response of the Israeli government has been exemplary. I hope they catch the perpetrators soon.