Stepping Back in Time Along the Sea of Galilee – Memories of Capernaum, Israel

“A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home.”  -Mark 2:1

Capernaum, the home of many stories and parables we know well. Capernaum, a city that saw the rise and fall of beliefs and religions. Capernaum, a city that witnessed moments that would change history. 

As I walked through the gates of the city, I could immediately feel the energy from long ago. The voices of the ancient residents, the smells of spices and animals, the laughter of kids playing in the streets, all still linger in the air just soft enough to not hear. Yet if you sit still and listen carefully, you can hear a voice in the distance, singing melodies of the past. 

I see the children running through the streets, weaving in and out of the adults buying fruit and spices along the road, goats and sheep roaming around through the alleys, men and women on their way to do their daily chores. Fisherman bringing in their catch ready to sell, potters and blacksmiths trading materials, vendors of every kind attracting attention with a loud yell. 

And walking through the midst of people, walk a group of men and women that would forever change the course of the way we think and speak. 

The ancient city, sitting along the coast of the Sea of Galilee, was once a small fishing village that is suppose to be where St. Peter and Jesus lived during the time of his ministry. Here lay the ruins of what is believed to be Peter’s home and built above are the remains of an ancient Byzantine church and  a modern Franciscan church.  

The Byzantine octagonal church

The modern church

Looking down at the ruins of St. Peter’s house from above in the new church

Here in this peaceful ancient city you can find the ruins of an ancient synagogue dating between the 2nd and 5th century A.D. that was almost certainly built above the synagogue where Jesus would have taught. 

It was crazy to try and picture that in these very streets and homes, Jesus and the apostles lived, walked, prayed, and spoke about an idea that would change the world. Beyond the stories of the Bible, I tried to imagine the little moments and memories that bring humanity to the stories. What were the first reactions to the words of Jesus, were the residents inspired? Were they confused?

What rumors and words were spoken in these very homes that I look at? Which home did Jesus eat at or how many residents of this city did he have a personal relationship with? Questions that were all racing through my mind at once.

Looking out over the water I could almost see the shimmering figure of Jesus, for it was in these waters that miracles happened. It was from these peaceful waters that the world was soon to change.

St. Peter

Although being a small and poor fishing village, Capernaum now holds a special place in my heart and in the history of Christianity. Driving along the coast of the Sea of Galilee you can see many of the places where Jesus performed miracles including the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy, the Multiplication Church, Mount of Beautitudes, Bethsaida, and Migdal. It is such a beautiful and peaceful region – do not miss it!

Have you ever been to the Sea of Galilee or Capernaum? What was your experience? 

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