Tag Archives: Nazareth

Nazareth: Perfect Crusader Capitals — Scenes from the Gospels and Acts

One of the places in Nazareth that is rarely visited is the Archaeology Museum of Nazareth.  It is actually located below the plaza on to which visitors to the Church of the Annunciation exit!  Of the displays, pride of place must go to the five capitals of the crusade era, unearthed by Father Viaud at the beginning of the 1800s, in a grotto dug to the north of the crusade Basilica, close to the grotto of worship.

View of the only rectangular capital called the “Fides–Ecclesia.” Click on Images to Enlarge and/or Download.

The central capital shows a scene that has been open to several interpretations and represents a crowned woman holding a cross, while she travels to the left accompanied by a barefoot man among figures of the devil.
Some academics see the scene as the Byzantine theme of the liberation of Adam through the decent of Christ to the underworld. On the other hand, others identify the crowned woman with the Church Mother, holding the hand of an apostle, helping him to stand up to temptations, represented by the demons armed with bows and ready to shoot their arrows.

The capitals are made of high quality “sultan” stone.  The background surface is rough while the figures are very smooth.  The five, apparently unused, capitals from the Crusader Period depict episodes from the canonical apostles and from apocryphal writings regarding the life of the apostles.

View of one of the four octagonal capitals called the “Capital of Saint Peter.”

This capital represents two images of scenes from the life of the apostle Peter, taken from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.
The three arches on the right in all likelihood represents the episode of the apparition of Jesus to the apostles, after the resurrection, at the lake of Tiberias. Peter, throwing himself from the boat to reach the shore, holds his hand out to Jesus, who is calling him. Below the three left arches there is a scene of the resurrection of the disciple Tabitha, in the city of Jaffa, by the hand of Peter, as told in the Acts of the Apostles. The apostle lifts the disciple from her deathbed, while three witnesses observe the prodigious miracle.

View of one of the four octagonal capitals called the “Capital of Saint Thomas.”

This capital is one of the four octagonal capitals. Below six arches, a unique scene is depicted, narrating the episode of the meeting between Saint Thomas and Jesus Christ, after the resurrection.
Thomas, absent at the time of the first apparition, is put to the test by Jesus who is showing the apostle the wound on his ribs, which Thomas had previously not believed in when hearing the take from the other apostles.
Christ is recognizable by the halo and the cross. The other saints present at the scene are the apostles: among these can be noted Peter, to the right of Christ and the brothers James and John in the arch on the left [not visible in image].

Most of the above information is from the Custodia Terrae Sanctae: Sanctuary Nazareth.


The Crusader Period in the Holy Land is from 1099 until 1291.  However, after the battle of the Horns of Hattin on July 4, 1187 the rule of the Crusaders was doomed.

Nazareth: The House of Jesus?

Most visitors to Nazareth will visit the beautiful Church of the Annunciation with its wonderful murals of the Virgin and Child.  Nearby, is the Sisters of Nazareth Convent that is frequently visited by Catholic Pilgrim Group.  In the “lower level” of the Sisters of Nazareth are the remains of archaeological excavations including an area that Ken Dark argues was the house of the family of Jesus in Nazareth!

View of the remains of a first century house that is preserved in the lower level of the Convent. Ken Dark believes that this might be the house in which Jesus grew up. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

“. . . the rock–cut doorway of the first–century house . . . .  The combination of rock–built construction and quarried–rock construction can be seen clearly.  The door opens to the ‘Chambre Obscure,’ another part of the original house structure partly cut out of the natural rock.  The rock overhang in the corner is naturally occurring and was likely left in its current form to support the roof.  In front of the doorway, a fragment of the original floor survives.” (Dark, p. 56)

Another view of the remains of a first century house that is preserved in the lower level of the Convent. Ken Dark believes that this might be the house in which Jesus grew up. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

The east side [on right side of image] of the structure originally had rock built walls, as this part of the house was built away from the naturally occurring rock cave.  The visible wall was rebuilt in the Crusader period but may incorporate remains of the first–century A.D. wall. (Dark, p. 56)

View of the entrance to the Sisters of Nazareth Convent where first century, Byzantine, and Crusader remains have been found and preserved in the lower level of the Convent.

Dark, Ken. “Has Jesus’ Nazareth House Been Found?” Biblical Archaeological Review 41, no. 2 (March/April 2015): 54–63, 72.

Images for Advent/Christmas

As many of you prepare for the Christmas Season you might be interested in the images that I have posted on places that are associated with the birth of Jesus:

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View looking down into modern Nazareth
The Dome of the Church of the Annunciation is visible on the left
Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

20 images of Nazareth and the Church of the Annunciation.

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The Grotto in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
The traditional site of the birth of Jesus
Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

32 images of Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.

These are high-resolution images, with commentary, that are available for you to download and use (without cost or obligation) in your personal PowerPoint presentations.