"Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them…" (Matthew 5)
Tabgha is set on the shores of the sparkling Sea of Galilee in a thin, fertile valley, just two miles west of Capernaum. Its name was originally Heptapegon, which means seven springs in Greek. The spring water here was much warmer than the lake water and, as a result, it produced much algae. This in turn attracted many fish and thus the spot was known to fishermen for millenia. To date, only six springs have been found here.
Traditionally, this was a special place during the life of Jesus; this is where he walked on the shore and called out to the disciples, asking them to follow him. He called to Andrew, to Peter and to Simon who were busy casting their nets. Christ then called to John and James who were helping their father to fish.
Church of the Multiplication of the Bread and the Fishes
Today one can visit the Church of the Multiplication of the Bread and the Fishes. Some say that Jesus Christ performed this miracle here, feeding 5000 pilgrims with just five loaves and two small fish placed upon a rock (Matthew 14:13-21). Christian pilgrims traditionally came here to visit, breaking off pieces of this rock to cure their illnesses.
During the fifth century, a monastery and church were built here complete with exquisite tiled floors. Unfortunately, the buildings were destroyed in the seventh century. Today, a restored Byzantine Church has been built and, preserved below, you can see the Byzantine mosaic portraying the miracle and the actual rock beneath it. However there is some dispute as to the exact location of this miracle; some say that according to scripture, this miracle was known to have happened in Bethsaida.
The Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter
Tabgha is also famous for its The Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter, commemorating the miracle of the loaves and fishes. This is also the spot where Peter was made "Shepherd of the People" by Jesus Christ. According to scripture, Peter took the disciples on a fishing trip in the waters outside Tabgha. A man called out to them, telling them to throw their net starboard and promising them a good catch. Swarms of fish raced into the net, prompting Peter to jump off the boat and find the mysterious man. It was Jesus himself. In the bible, it then tells us that Jesus and the twelve apostles then had a meal together.
This church is built around a rock that is said to be the very table where the feast was served. Although the Church was destroyed by the Persians in 614 CE, it was rebuilt by the Francsicans in 1933. Outside, on the shoreline, one can see the steps where Jesus stood and called out to the disciples, as written in the bible verses:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake" (Matt 5:3-11 KJV).