1/21 – After our morning in Nazareth Village, we spent the afternoon checking out the churches. The Basilica of the Annunciation is the largest Catholic church in the Middle East. Completed in 1969, it was built over several previous churches on the spot where Mary’s house might have been, when she and the Angel Gabriel met.
We arrived right at noon, in time to hear all the bells pealing (drowning out the noon Call to Prayer from the White Mosque across the street), and a chorus of Ave Maria (which we haven’t heard since France). A priest came out to perform the daily blessing in the grotto that looks down into excavations from earlier churches.
The basilica contains images of Mary provided by countries around the world. I love seeing her image reflected in every race and artistic style.
Next to the basilica stands the Church of St. Joseph, who had a big role in the raising of Jesus, but doesn’t usually get that much press. I really loved the images portrayed here.
We were consulting our Google Maps for the location, when a helpful passerby told us to keep walking until we saw the big tree. When we got to the square, we did indeed see a big tree! They take Christmas very seriously here in Nazareth – although January is almost over, there is still tinsel and Santa all around the town.
The Greek tradition has the Angel meeting Mary out at the well to give her the news, so Mary’s Well is here, and bottles of the water from the well are for sale. I loved the images here too – how often do you get to see the Disciples’ knees?
We passed the Church of Christ’s Table – not sure what this one commemorates, so I’ll let you read the sign yourself: