Tabgha


"So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place." (Mark 6:32)

Tabgha, the traditional site of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes, is situated near the northeastern shore of Lake Kinneret (The Sea of Galilee), 2.5 kilometers south of Capernaum, and some 12 kilometers north of Tiberias. The name "Tabgha" is an Arabic contraction of the Greek Heptapegon (the place of seven springs). Several springs still flow in this area, which is also associated with the teaching of the Beatitudes and the confirmation of the primacy of Peter.

The Lady Egeria, who visited in 383, lists some steps on the shoreline where Jesus once stood; an adjoining grassy field where Jesus fed the people with the five loaves and the two fishes; and a nearby cave on the "mountainside" where Jesus preached the Beatitudes. She only mentions one religious building (a church containing the stone on which Jesus placed the bread when dividing it for the multitude), but modern archeological investigations found that small chapels had been built at all three sites during the second half of the 4th century. These investigations also determined that the site matched the Gospel description of "a solitary place", as no evidence was found of houses or cultivation.

In the 5th century, the church at the assumed site of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes was rebuilt and enlarged, but this building and the two nearby chapels were destroyed sometime in the 7th century, probably at the time of the Persian invasion. Bishop Arculf, who visited the place in 670, found only a grassy and level plain with no traces of buildings, except for a few columns around a spring.

The small chapel on the lakeshore was rebuilt sometime later, but the Crusaders found it in ruins when they arrived in 1099. They rebuilt it, but this chapel was also destroyed in 1187, after the defeat of the Crusaders at Hittim. Rebuilt in about 1260, the chapel was razed to the ground by the Mamluks in 1263.

The present Chapel of the Primacy of Peter was built by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land in 1933. The nearby Benedictine monastery and Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes was consecrated in 1982.


Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry