Nazareth: Church of the Annunciation

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Nazareth: Church of the Annunciation



1. Nazareth is about 15 miles (24 km.) southwest of the Sea of Galilee, and about 23 miles (37 km.) inland from the Mediterranean Sea.


2. The Church of the Annunciation is in the center of the City of Nazareth, on Casa Nova Street. 

Historical Background


1. Nazareth had an estimated population of around 300 during the time of Christ.


2. It was a small farming town where everyone knew each other.

3. Nazareth had a bad reputation. 

Matthew 1:46: Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”


4. Christians began venerating the home of Mary and Joseph soon after Christ’s death and resurrection. Tradition holds that this home is in the cave grotto in the lower level of the Church of the Annunciation.


5. In the mid-4th century, Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor, Constantine, commissioned the construction of the Church of the Annunciation based upon tradition and evidence she found at the site.

6. The church has been destroyed and rebuilt around 5 times. In the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land in the 7th century, it was destroyed. In 1100, the Crusaders arrived and rebuilt the church. In 1620, the Franciscans purchased the ruins and rebuilt it. In 1730, the church was rebuilt again, and in 1877, it was enlarged.


7. From 1955–1969, the church was rebuilt to its current status. It’s now a massive two-story basilica with modern architectural style. In 1969, when it was completed, it was the largest Christian church in the Middle East. 

8. The church has two levels with two separate churches. The upper church level is for Nazareth’s Catholic community. The lower level is centered around the grotto which was the home of Mary and the site of the Annunciation. The remnants of the churches from the Crusader and Byzantine eras can be seen around the grotto area.

9. There is another church in Nazareth that commemorates the Annunciation of the birth of Christ as well. It’s the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, which is the traditional site held by the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Places of Interest (Please See Maps Above)


1. Statue of Mary – Her hands are blackened from touch.


2. Written in Latin across the facade over the triple-doorway entrance is the Bible verse: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).


3. The entryway doors to the Church have carvings of significant events that happened in the Old and New Testaments.


4. The current church is a two-story building. The main entrance is on the lower level.


5. On the lower level is the grotto that is believed to be the original home of Mary, and the place where the angel Gabriel appeared to her.


6. The words written on an altar table at the front of the grotto mean, “Here the Word was made Flesh.”


7. On each side of the grotto are remains of earlier churches.


8. The upper level of the basilica serves as the local Roman Catholic parish church.


9. Outside the upper level of the basilica are excavations buildings during the time of Christ.


10. Outside the lower level of the basilica is a covered area with mosaic panels of many countries from around the world.


Nazareth In the Bible


1. Nazareth was the home of Joseph and Mary and the place where the angel Gabriel was sent to announce to the Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of Christ the Messiah. 

Luke 1:26-38: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. 

Faith Lesson from the Life of Mary


1. Mary was a righteous person whom God saw would honor and obey Him with the great gift of being the mother of Christ. Are we devoted to God in such a way that He would entrust to us abundant blessings?

2. Mary did not remain a virgin after giving birth to Christ, as many believe. She had many other children as we can see all throughout Scripture (Matt. 15:55–56). Are we students of God’s Word so we believe the truth, or do we follow what our church or others teach instead? Who is our highest authority in what we believe: people or God’s Word?

3. Mary is not to be worshiped like some do but is an example to us of a person of deep faith and obedience. Do we revere and honor Mary, or do we worship her?

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