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The Church of St. Joseph

The Church of St. Joseph is situated in northern Israel in the city of Nazareth where Jesus grew up, the church is thought to be built on the site where Christ’s earthly father, Joseph, once lived and worked as a carpenter. Following their union, this would have been Mary’s home as well. The Church of Nutrition and the Church of Joseph’s Carpentry are two other names for the church. The site was first identified as the holy family’s home in the 17th century when texts referred to it as “Joseph’s house and workshop.” The Church of Saint Joseph’s Carpentry, along with the Franciscan convent Terra-Santa, are part of the same complex as the Basilica of the Annunciation. Architectural objects discovered during excavation can be seen in the courtyard.

Several interesting stained glass windows and paintings depicting scenes involving Joseph can be found inside the church that now stands at this site. There’s the wedding scene between Joseph and Mary, Joseph dying in the arms of Jesus and Mary, Joseph teaching Jesus how to work in the carpentry shop as Mary looks on, and Joseph’s dream. The current church was built in 1914 on the ruins of a Crusader church, which had been built on a series of caves. The caves, which were most likely used for food storage in Biblical times and may have housed the workshop. A stairway leads down to a crypt and through a grille in the stone, where the caves can be seen, from the current church.

Further down, there is a 2m2 pool or basin with a black and white mosaic floor that is believed to have been a baptistery from the first century AD. The floor mosaic depicts what appears to be a ladder, which may represent the spiritual advancement of new Christian converts. This suggests that Christians gathered here long before the town had official churches in Biblical times. The house, which has been known as the Holy Family’s residence, appears to have been used for Christian worship during the Byzantine period.

There are a few more steps, which appear to be older, that lead to a narrow passage that eventually leads to a bed. There are caves cut into the limestone in this room that was used for grain storage and as water cisterns. During the Roman period, this was a popular storage process.

Visit the Church of St. Joseph as part of our Nazareth and Sea of Galilee Tour.

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