Tabgha – Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes


Mark 6:30-44

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.’ But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?’  And he said to them, ‘How many loaves have you? Go and see.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

Day 2 – stop 3 on our journey.  The church is modern but it stands on the site of 4th and 5th-century churches. It preserves a splendid early Christian mosaic as well as the traditional stone on which the miraculous meal was laid.  While it is possible that this is the site of the feeding of five thousand, it is not very likely.  Despite that knowledge, I picked up good vibrations here.  Perhaps it was the fish who greeted us on the way in, perhaps it was the breathtaking flora surrounding the courtyard…I don’t know.  The story of the loaves and fishes is one of my favorites though and any celebration of it is okay by me.  To me, the story is about sharing what you have and not worrying about having enough for yourself.  Whenever we allow ourselves to do that we always find out there not only is there enough, but there is more than enough.  Sharing begets abundance.  It is a happy story with no ending if we will but extend ourselves into recognizing its truth in our lives.

A church of the Feeding of the Five Thousand was first built on this site in 350. The church was small and built differently than the later versions.  The church was significantly enlarged around 480 and an inscription attributes its building to the patriarch Matryrios (478-86) which included the addition of the floor mosaic. The church was destroyed around 685 AD.  The site was excavated in 1932 and a protective cover was built over the mosaics in 1936. In 1982 it was replaced by the modern Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes that stands today, which is a faithful reconstruction of the original.  Under the altar is a block of limestone that is thought to be the table of the Lord. It is unlikely to be the same one though.  It used to be that pilgrims would take chips from this rock but of course now they are no longer permitted to chip away at it!  In front of the altar is a restored mosaic of two fish flanking a basket of loaves.

To see pictures click on the album:

Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes
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2 thoughts on “Tabgha – Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes

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