Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/798

This page needs to be proofread.




eh of

there about ruO, bosiilcs "tho ilwcllinu of Mary con- verted into a biisiliea", the "aneient synagOKiie". A little treatise of tlio same rcntury, entitled "Liber nominum locorum ex Aelis", speaks of the el the Annuneiation and of another erected on 1 1 the house "where ourLordwasbrouRhi up". In 'i70 Arculf gave Adamnan an interesting descrip- tion of the basilica of the Annunciation and of the church of the "Nutrition of Jesus".

The toleration which the Moslems showed towards the Christians, after con- quering the country in 637, did not last long. Willibald, who visited Nazareth about 725, found onlj' the basilica of the Annunciation, "which the Chris- tians", he says, "often redeemed from the Saracens, when they threat- ened to destroy it".

However, in 808 the author of the "Commemo- ratorium de casis Dei" found twelve monks at the ba.silica, and eight at the Precipice, "a mile away from the town". The Greek emperor, .John Zimisces, reconquered Galilee from „ „ „ ^^ ^„

the Arabs in 920, but , five years after- *=

wards, he was poisoned by his eunuchs, and his soldiers abandoned the country. The basilica, finally ruined under the reign of the Calif Hakem (1010), was rebuilt by the crusaders in 1101, as well as the church of theNutrition, or St. Joseph's House. At the same time the Greeks erected the churcli of St. Gabriel near the Virgin's Well. The archiepis- copal See of Scythopolis was also transferred to Nazareth. After the disastrous battle of Hattin (1187), the crusaders, with the European clergy, were compelled to leave the town. On 2.5 March, 12.54, St. Louis and Queen Marguerite celebrated the feast of the Annunciation at Naza- reth; but nine years later, the Sultan Bibars completely destroyed all the Christian buildings, and Nazareth soon dwindled down to a poor village. In the fourteen! h century, a few Fran- ciscan Friars established themselves there, among the ruins of the basilica. They had much to suffer during their stay, and many of them were even put to death, especially in 1385, in

i of the present

1448, and in 1.548, when all the friars church of the annunciation

were driven out of the country. In ^^ nazareth

1620 Fakher ed Din, Emir of the ^^ fo^nMic. of tHe .rciert c^uroH

Druses, allowed them to build a , ,

church over the Grotto of the Annun- ' ^ Ph- c/ th> pre„ni ohuroh ^^^^

ciation; but it was ruined some years later by the the rock descends to an irregular grotto excavated Bedouins. The Franciscans nevertheless remained beneath the sanctuary. Several interesting details near the sanctuary, and in 17.30 the powerful Sheikh answer to the description given by Arculf in 670. The Dhaher el Amer authorized them to erect the church Franciscans are about to rebuild this sanctuary. which IS still to be seen. The mountain "whereon the city is built" ends in a

Sites.— In the fourth century, local tradition indi- row of hills that overlook the town. On the south,

catcd the house of the Virgin at the top of the south- ern point of the hill, which rises some 30 feel over the plain. The dwelling consisted of a lillle liuildinn «ilh a grolto in the rear. Even now, other (hvelliiigs like I hi- are to be found in Nazareth. Explorations made in 1909, beneath and around the present church, brought to light the whole plan otthe ancient basilica of Constantine. It was built from west (() east, divided into three naves by two rows of syenite col- umns, and the grotto was in the north nave. The crusaders fol- lowed the same plan, and even kept the two rows of columns; they only added new pillars and gave to the facade, as well as to the apse, the ap- pearance and solid- ity of a fortress. The Franciscans erected their church across the ancient building, so as to bring the grotto beneath the choir at the end of the central nave. The crypt was always three or four feet below the pavement of the church. Since 1730 there have been fifteen steps leading down to the Chapel of the Angel, and two i «i) ro .0 ,„ ,„„FjET more to the Grotto itself. Thechapel "^ is the traditional site of the house,

properly so-called, of the Virgin; at the north end of it, the mosaic pave- ment is well preserved, and is adorned W'ith an inscription in Greek letters which undoubtedly dates from the sixth century. A beautiful altar ded- icated to the mystery of the Annun- ciation occupies the Grotto. On the left are two columns of porphyry, certainly placed there in the fourth century.

About 300 paces northeast of the basihca of the Annunciation, "the church of the Nutrition " marked the traditional site of St. Joseph's dwell- ing, where, after the warning of the Angel (Matt., i, 20), he received Mary his spouse with the ceremonial prescribed by the law for matrimony. After his return from Egypt, Joseph came back to Nazareth and, with the Virgin .and the Divine Child, again occupied his own house. There Jesus was brought up and dwelt till he left the town at the beginning of His pub- lic life. Two documents of the fourth century allude to this place, and two others of the sixth and seventh men- tion the church of the Nutrition, built over it. Excavations made in 1909 brought to light the lower layers of a fine church of the twelfth cen- tury, from which a staircase hewn in