The Synagogue Church
The Synagogue Church in Nazareth, close to the Old Market, reveals details of Jesus’ “Silent Years” or “the hidden life”. According to Christian tradition, in a Jewish synagogue on this spot Jesus stood on the Sabbath to preach the stirring words of Isaiah 61 (Luke 4:16-27) and it was here where he endured an angry response (Luke 4:28-30). The gospel differs in Matthew 13:54-58 and Mark 6:1-6.
Christian pilgrims have visited the church on the site of the synagogue since the 6th Century. The Synagogue Church is a 12th Century church built by the Crusaders on the site of the original of the Roman period synagogue. The Crusaders level is more than a meter lower than the modern church, and there are seven steps that lead down to its floor. The Synagogue Church was under the control of the Franciscans until 1771, when the ruler Daher al-Omar passed it to the Greek Catholics. In Arabic the church is called “Madrasat al-Masikh”
The church is a small and simple single hall structure. On a raised altar, the bishop faces the people behind the stone table. On the table is a single cross. Behind this table is a large picture with the scene of Jesus preaching in the synagogue.
The New Greek Catholic Synagogue Church, Nazareth
Adjacent to the site of the Synagogue Church is parish church of Nazareth’s Greek Catholic community, built in 1887 and managed by the Melkites. The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is located in the middle of the Old Market of Nazareth, in the Churches district. The Greek Catholic Church towers over the market, with its dome and two bell towers.
The Greek Catholic church (Melkites) split from the Greek Orthodox church in 1724. Today the Melkites are roughly 25% of the Christian population in Israel, where the Greek Orthodox are about 33%, 18% are Latin-Catholics, 4% are Maronite and 20% other Christians.