The History and a Brief Outline
Introduction and History
It is in St. Peter’s House that the biblical Jesus established his residence, healed the sick, taught the people and instructed his disciples. It became the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.
Peter was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples and his house was situated by the shores of the lake of Galilee in Capernaum – the site of Jesus’ public ministry. Its original Semitic name is known as Kfar Nahum, due to an inscription in the Hammat Gader synagogue and other rabbinic sources. The gospels and the account of the historian Flavius Josephus more commonly refer to the village by its Greek translation Kapharnaum. Capernaum was a fishing village and had a rough population of 1,500. Two synagogues built over one another have been revealed by archaeological excavations, and the church near Capernaum has been discovered to be the house of St. Peter.
In 1838, the ancient ruins of Tell Hum were investigated by the American archaeologist Edward Robinson (1794 - 1863). On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Robinson was inspired by the biblical archaeology, but it was only Englishman Charles William Wilson (1836 - 1905) who first made the connection between the ruins and Capernaum of the gospels in 1866. There were many archaeological explorations of the Capernaum site by Heinrich Kohl (1877 – 1914), Carl Watzinger (1877 – 1948) and then Wendelin von Menden, who extended investigations in 1905. Yet it was only in 1921 that St. Peter’s House was fully founded.
On the 30th October 1921, Father Loffreda was allowed to excavate a trench underneath the floor of the fourth century domus ecclesiae in order to determine the age of the house. A pot used in Herod’s time was discovered alongside oil lamps, plaster and pavements. It was then concluded that this room must have been used for first century gatherings of Judeo-Christians in which many miracles had taken place; that of St. Peter’s house.
Since then Capernaum has become one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the Holy Land. Many Christians and Jews flock there every year in order to see this iconic site in which Jesus’ ministry took place.