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Capernaum follows the footsteps of Christ

By Catholic Online
February 28th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Capernaum, an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel is home to a celebrated Byzantine-era synagogue. The town is also where Jesus healed a paralytic and St. Peter's mother-in-law. Capernaum is frequently mentioned in the Gospels and was Jesus' base during his Galilean ministry. It is referred to as Jesus' "own city" and a place where he lived. It was the home of his first disciples, Peter and Andrew.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Many familiar scenes from the Gospel took place in this village. Capernaum is where Jesus first began to preach after the Temptation in the wilderness and called Levi from his tax-collector's booth. It was while teaching in the synagogue of Capernaum that he said, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

Capernaum is where Jesus healed a centurion's servant without even seeing him, Peter's mother-in-law; the paralytic who was lowered through the roof, and many others who were brought to him.

Christ grew angry with the city of Capernaum, as the people there remained sinful and unrepentant in spite of all of his miracles. "And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."

Now predominantly an archaeological park, Capernaum was originally a fishing village inhabited continuously from the 1st century BC to the 13th century AD. As the first town encountered by travelers on the other side of the Jordan, it was equipped with a customs office and a small garrison overseen by a centurion.

The synagogue of Capernaum is located just inland from the shore with its facade facing Jerusalem. It has been difficult to date, with scholarly opinion ranging from the 2nd to 5th centuries. It stands on an elevated position, was richly decorated and was built of imported white limestone, which would have contrasted dramatically with the local black basalt of the rest of the village. All of this would have given the building great beauty and status.

The ruined synagogue and church stand quite close to each other near the shore, with ruins of 1st-to-6th-century houses in between. Also on the site are finely carved stones that belong to the synagogue, included one with a Star of David, and a new Greek Orthodox church nearby.

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