LET’S KEEP NAZARETH TOGETHER
The place where the History of Salvation began
Facing the conflicts and sufferings that are tearing the whole world apart, today we are called to keep our gaze fixed on the place where the History of Salvation began and where our hope originates: the humble house of Nazareth where Mary received the announcement of the Angel.
There, in the exact place where the Word became flesh, from the first centuries Christians have guarded and venerated the small cave that was the house of Mary, around which today stands the Basilica of the Annunciation.
The Basilica of the Annunciation
Like many shrines in the Holy Land, the Basilica of Nazareth also has a fascinating history behind it, which it is important to make understandable to pilgrims from all over the world.
For this reason, the Franciscans for 800 years custodians of the sanctuaries of the Holy Land, continue the study of the finds and testimonies that allow us to reconstruct the history of the Holy Places.
To support the Franciscan work, however, we really need the help of all Christians who, today as in past centuries, care about the place where our faith originates.
These are not just stones…
Knowing the history of the shrine of Nazareth allows us to grasp the traces of the facts narrated in the Gospels and to understand that we are part of a community of believers who for 2,000 years have lived the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ.
The oldest trace of Marian worship in Nazareth, in fact, is prior to the middle of the fifth century: an engraving in Greek, left by ancient pilgrims on the basis of a column and discovered only a few years ago. The inscription clearly shows the name of Μαρία “Mary” preceded by an abbreviation of two letters Χε, interpreted as Χαίρε “Chaire“, corresponding to the Latin “Ave”.
It is the angelic greeting addressed to the Virgin, according to the Gospel of Luke: “Hail Mary”.
The inscription confirms with certainty that even then the small cave of Nazareth was venerated as the place of the announcement of the Angel.
These discoveries are important because they make us understand how Marian devotion has always been fundamental for Christians.
The inscription in question predates even the Council of Ephesus, which represents the official beginning of the worship of Mary Mother of God.
The walls that tell…
During the Crusader era, a large basilica was built in Nazareth. The perimeter walls of this ancient sanctuary were rediscovered during the excavations for the construction of the current Basilica, along with many finds of extraordinary importance, but still awaiting restoration.
Among them are the remains of the large decorative arch of the west portal.
HELP US TO PRESERVE
The traces of our faith
The remains of the arch are now in the warehouses of the Custody of the Holy Land, but our desire is to restore them to exhibit and explain them to pilgrims. All these historical testimonies, in fact, are important because they show how from the beginning Christians all over the world went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and loved and guarded the traces of the life of Jesus among men in churches and shrines.