Home page > Pélerinage > Les sanctuaires en bref > Tabgha and Magdala

26 December 2011

Tabgha and Magdala

English français

Church of the Primacy of Peter; The site of the first multiplication of loaves; The site of the Beatitudes

The pilgrims, continuing the tradition of the Christians who lived continuously in Capharnaum since the times of Christ, localized three Gospel memories in Tabgha: the multiplication of the loaves, the appearance of Christ risen to the Apostles and the Beatitudes. Continuing towards Tiberias, after the plain of Ghinnosar, Magdala is reached, the place that gave its name to Mary Magdalene, the ardent disciple of the Lord.

Church of the Primacy
- P.O.B. 1931 - Tabgha
- 14101 Tiberias

Tel.: 04-672.47.67
- Fax: 04-671.69.62

Opening hours of the sanctuary


The Christian tradition

Not far away (from Capharnaum) the stone steps on which the Lord stood can be seen. There, near the sea, the land is covered with grass and hay is plentiful. There are a lot of palm trees ad nearby are seven springs which provide abundant water: in this lush land, the Lord fed a multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish. The stone on which the Lord laid the bread has become an altar. The public thoroughfare, where Matthew had his tax collection post, passes near the walls of that church. The neighbouring mount is where the Lord went to say the Beatitudes". This text, kept in a small medieval book on the Holy Places and attributed to the pilgrim Egeria (381-384 AD), is the best evidence of the Christian memories of Tabgha, the name of which is a deformation of the Greek Heptàpegon (seven springs).

The church of the multiplication of the loaves (brought back to the light in 1932 by the Benedictine E. Mader) is in the plain, amidst the springs, with its ancient mosaics of the Nilotic type and the famous rock under the altar in front of which a mosaic represents the bread and fish used by Jesus to feed the multitude. The Sanctuary of the Beatitudes stands on the nearby mount: the older one, lower down, near the road (excavated in 1936 by Father B. Bagatti) and the new one (designed by the architect A. Barluzzi in 1938) on a higher hillock.

The whole place, but in particular the mount that dominates it, took the name of the Lord’s Table (from the venerated stone under the altar in the church) in the 9th century whilst the memory of the appearances of Jesus at the lake, with the episodes of the miraculous catch and the primacy of Peter, developed. The Russian abbot Daniel (12th century) talked of: "a church built on this spot is consecrated to the Holy Apostles".

The Church of the Primacy was rebuilt on top of the ancient ruins in 1933 and restored in 1982. The Tabgha sanctuaries were studied again by Father S. Loffreda in 1968 from the archaeological point of view.

The neighbouring city of Magdala was one of the most important in Galilee. The excavations, conducted by Father V. Corbo and Father S. Loffreda between 1971 and 1977, brought to the light part of the Roman city (1st century BC -4th century AD) and remains which indicate that probably there was an ecclesiastical building from the Byzantine and Arab period (5th – 9th century AD) nearby.

The Site

General plan


1. Sanctuary of the Primacy.
- 2. Small Crusader castle.
- 3. Old sanctuary of the Beatitudes.
- 4. Sanctuary of the multiplication of the loaves.
- 5. Polygonal Byzantine water tower, Birket Ali edh- Dhaber.
- 6. Water mills (recent).
- 7. Circular Byzantine water tower, Hammam Ayyub.


1. Sacred rock, Mensa Christi.
- 2. Remains of the church of the 4th-5th century.
- 3. Rocky bank and steps mentioned by Egeria.
- 4. Six stones in the shape of a heart called Twelve Thrones (in Arabic Hajar en-Nasara) from the Byzantine and Arab period (5th-I9th century AD).

Biblical texts

Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep

After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.

As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

(John 21,1-17)

The first multiplication of the loaves

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.

And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

(Mark 6,34-44)


Guide. To God who, in his Providence, built the Church on the Rock of Peter and the Apostles, we address our pleas. All. Listen to us, O Lord.

1. For the Pope, Peter’s successor, so that he may precede all in the unfailing love for Christ, the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the flock. Let us pray:

2.For all the believers in Christ, so that the shepherds and faithful make every effort to repair the net of the Church which is torn by divisions and discord. Let us pray:

3. For the rulers of peoples and the heads of nations, so that they see in the Church of Christ the sign and the instrument of the unity of all mankind. Let us pray:

4. For the Catholic faithful, so that they may feel the grace and the responsibility of being part of the Church guided by the Pope and by the Bishops in the bond of unity, of charity and peace. Let us pray:

5. For all those who are suffering and undergoing ordeals, so that nothing and nobody may ever separate them from the salvific love of Christ. Let us pray:

6.For ourselves, pilgrims, so that the memory of the continuation of Peter and of the other Apostles , of Mary of Magdalene and the first women followers renew in us the grace of the discipleship. Let us pray:

Guide. O God, supreme shepherd of the believers, look at Your Son’s flock with love and bring together in the integrity of the faith and in the bond of charity those who have been consecrated by a single baptism. For Christ Our Lord. All. Amen