Today, among other things, we visited the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
It is built over a cave in Nazareth which, from the fourth century on, was a pilgrimage site associated with the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). The picture at right is a close up of grotto itself. Our tour guide is a parishioner of the Basilica, and was able to get our little group of Domers and Steubies permission to celebrate mass just outside the grotto. The experience was stunning, to say the least.
Not far away is the Church of St. Joseph, built
over another cave identified since the early centuries as the home of the Holy Family.
One can question the exact locations, but it is clear that in the first century AD, Nazareth was a small community of only about 250 residents, who lived not in houses but in caves on the hillside. This much can be demonstrated archeologically.
Our Lord was born in a cave, and raised in a cave. We worship the great Caveman. G.K. Chesterton would be proud. (If you don’t understand that, read The Everlasting Man).
The modern basilica was constructed by the local Roman (Latin Rite) Catholic community, which numbers about 5,000. It is the largest Catholic church building in the Middle East, and the largest parish (by members) in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (which includes Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus). The local parish community built the church themselves despite constant economic duress brought on by frequent wars and political turmoil. They are heroic, and deserve our support. I’ve uploaded two photos of the basilica—inside, and out.