After breakfast at the hotel, we boarded our busses for the short ride to Nazareth. Nazareth is the site of Mary and Joseph's home and the town where Jesus played as a child, learned a trade, and grew to manhood. We first stopped at the Basilica of the Annunciation. As you walk up to the massive limestone façade, you can read the Latin words carved into it: verbum care factum est et habitavit in nobis, "The word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14). Surrounding the Basilica are mosaic tile depictions of Mary from nations around the world.
Entering the church at ground level we could look down to the lower level which contains the remains of a cave. This is the exact spot where Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, lived and where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her more than 2,000 years ago. This is the place where Mary said "Yes" to God. The altar in the cave home reads in Latin, "The Word became flesh here." The room built onto the front of the cave has disappeared. The Holy House was thought to have been taken away by relic hunters, or carried by angels to Loretto, Italy. For those who traveled on the pilgrimage to Italy last year, or followed our blog, may remember that we visited the Holy House and heard the miraculous story of its transport to Italy.
Very near to the Basilica of the Annunciation, is the Church of St. Joseph, built over what is believed to be the workshop and home of St. Joseph. Our guide explained that stone was the most common building materials in the time of Jesus, and was a resource found near the town of Nazareth. Most likely, Joseph worked in both wood and stone as a builder or artisan. We celebrated Mass in the Church of St. Joseph with Bishop Malesic giving us a homily about saying "yes." It is interesting to note that when you celebrate Mass at a holy site in the Holy Land, you celebrate the liturgy that the site commemorates, rather than the liturgy of the day. Therefore, since we were in Nazareth on the property of the Basilica of the Annunciation, we celebrated the liturgy for the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
After Mass we enjoyed lunch across the street at the Casa Nova Franciscan House. Then we traveled on to Cana, a short distance from Nazareth, where Jesus performed his first miracle at the request of his mother, turning the water into wine. Here in the Franciscan Wedding Church, a parish church for the Catholic Arabs, many of the couples on the pilgrimage renewed their wedding vows. We then returned to our hotel in Tiberius for dinner.
Click Here For More Photos