Tabgha/Multiplication

Wednesday 25th June 2014

Photos uploaded on 27th June in Ecce Homo, Jerusalem.

The second site we visited was Tabgha. Like so many places we have visited in this hot, dry, dusty, rocky land, it is a place of springs. Its ancient name was Heptapegon, a Greek word referring to seven springs. It is said that these provided water which was warmer than that of the Sea of Galilee, so the site attracted fish, and hence fishermen!!

Tabgha is the place where the Christian community commemorate the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, as reported in Mark 6: 30-44.

Feeding the Five Thousand
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35 When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And all ate and were filled; 43 and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

The miracle is commemorated in what is called The Church of the Loaves and Fishes or The Church of the Multiplication. Again, it is a recent church, built on the site of a 5th century Byzantine church. The modern church is run by the Benedictine monks who have a Monastery on the site. The church is simple but elegant.

The nave of the Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha, Galilee

The nave of the Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha, Galilee


The church is noted especially for its mosaic floor, some of which goes back to the fifth century, while the rest is the work of modern copyists who made up what was missing, but took care to make sure that it matched the original design.
The sanctuary of the Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha, Galilee

The sanctuary of the Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha, Galilee


The most famous mosaic design in the floor is just in front of the altar. It is a mosaic of the loaves and the fishes. It has become the iconic item of Christian pilgrims. It is ubiquitous. It is in every souvenir shop, as a design on ceramic goblets/chalices, ceramic plates/patens, circular ceramic plates, square ceramic tiles, rectangular ceramic tiles.
The altar of the Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha, Galilee.  The stone under the altar is said to be the stone on which Jesus laid the loaves and fishes prior to blessing and distributed them.  The famous mosaic, featuring the basket of bread in the centre and fishes on either side, is  set in the floor in front of the altar/stone.

The altar of the Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha, Galilee. The stone under the altar is said to be the stone on which Jesus laid the loaves and fishes prior to blessing and distributed them. The famous mosaic, featuring the basket of bread in the centre and fishes on either side, is set in the floor in front of the altar/stone.

The stone in front of the altar is said to be the stone on which the original loaves and fishes were placed before they were miraculously multiplied. I think it is a very imaginative explanation that would be very dubious historically! However, it does attract the pilgrim, focuses the attention, and makes for a good story!!

For more information and photos of Tabgha see:
http://www.bibleplaces.com/tabgha.htm
http://www.seetheholyland.net/tabgha/
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/church-of-loaves-and-fishes

Shalom, Peace, Salaam!!!

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