Day 3, Part 2:
Next we visited the site of the house of St Peter and surrounding houses, including the remains of the town synagogue. The bottom layer of black basalt stone was from the time of Christ; the white stone layers on top were from the fourth century, after the destruction of the second Temple. The foundation of St Peter’s house is surrounded by the foundation of a Byzantine church, and on top of that is built a modern Catholic Church.
Next we drove to Tiberias, the town where Christ told the Disciples to throw their nets on the right side of the boat after a day of bad fishing, and their nets were miraculously filled to capacity with fish. It was also where St Peter was reconciled to Christ after his denial. We visited the monastery there, and an Australian monk spoke to us about the 3-aisle basilica style of the monastery, and invited Fr Panagiotis to anoint all of us with oil from their altar mixed with holy myrrh. We then visited a seaside restaurant for a fish lunch and a little rest. From there, we boarded a fishing boat and were treated to a sermon about Christ calming the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee, while sailing across the same sea. We sailed to a kibbutz that has a small museum for a 1st century fishing boat that was excavated from that shoreline, certainly a contemporary of boats Jesus would have used.
Our final stop of the day was the Church at Tabgha, a Benedictine Catholic Church on the spot where the first feeding of the multitudes took place. It was very simple in structure, but had beautiful mosaics on the floors of birds and animals from the Nile region, and under the altar, a famous mosaic depiction of the loaves and fishes on a stone. Father spoke to us on the bus about how this miracle was not focused on the charity or hospitality that comes to mind at first, but it is a foreshadowing of the Last Supper and the Eucharistic offering of Christ to His people. Outside this church was an ancient olive press, and Yair demonstrated to us how the olives were pressed, the olive paste was put into jute bags and they were stacked up on top of each other over an oil receptacle, and were left overnight. The oil that collected from gravity alone overnight was considered extra virgin olive oil, and was used for temple sacrifice and anointing. The olive paste was then pressed to collect the next batch of oil for more ordinary use.
We had an hour drive back to our hotel in Nazareth, and most of us napped on the way home – jet lag seems to be hitting everyone today and we need to rest up for our trip to Jericho and Jerusalem tomorrow.