Being Catholic and have spent many years in catechism studying, l know the story of Jesus….how the Angel Gabriel spoke to Mary. and told her that she would become pregnant with a boy. His name would be Jesus. He would be the Son of God. I was thrilled to be in Israel and to get to actually see where these events take place.
Our trip started in Jerusalem, so before I got to the Christian sites, I got to visit an amazing collection of sites holy to other religions. We visited the Wailing Wall and we went Behind the Wailing Wall to the mosque on the Temple Mount. After a few days, we travelled a few hours to the City of Nazareth. This small Jewish village was where Mary lived as a peasant girl, became pregnant, married Joseph, then bore a Son called Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but I would have probably freaked out if someone appeared in front of me and said you’re pregnant and are going to have a son. Especially as a young virgin.
The cave in which Mary received the news from Gabriel that she would give birth to Jesus is now the site of The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The Catholic church was established at the site where, according to Roman Catholics, the Annunciation took place.
The current church is a two-story building constructed in 1969 over the site of an earlier Byzantine-era and then Crusader-era church. The site has been a pilgrimage destination since earliest times and remains an important stop for Holy Land pilgrims today.
The outside doors of the church foretells the story of Jesus Christ by portraying pictures telling the story of his life. The artwork and detail of the door was very impressive.
Inside the church, the lower level contains the Grotto of the Annunciation, believed by many Christians to be the remains of the original childhood home of Mary. People gather behind the gates and admire the altar which was placed as a shrine.
A shrine was built in the middle of the 4th century, comprising an altar in the cave in which Mary had lived. The Church of the Annunciation was founded around the same time as the Church of the Nativity (the birthplace), and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (the tomb). Some version of it was known to have still been in existence around 570 AD, but it was destroyed in the 7th century after the Muslim conquest of Palestine.
In 1730, the Franciscans built a new church on the site. The church was enlarged in 1877, and then completely demolished in 1954 to allow for the construction of a new church, which was completed in 1969.
One of the most striking things about the Church of the Annunciation are the international mosaics contributed from around the world: Mosaics Church of the Annunciation