Mary’s Fear Church: And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way. (Luke 4:30)
Prepare for a hike
Mary’s Fear Church has numerous names, including: Our Lady of Fright and Notre Dame de l’Effroi. This church is located on the southeast side of Nazareth on a small hill north of Mount Precipice. Mount Precipice is on the cliffs of Mt. Kedimum overlooking the Yizrael Valley and Mount Tabor. Mary’s Fear Church can be reached in a car by following the signs on the highway that bypasses Nazareth going toward Jewish Nazeret Illit.
From the old rock quarry at the base of Mount Precipice, Mary’s Fear Church can be accessed by hiking up a steep, barren hillside. This site is well worth the physical exertion, because it provides a panoramic view of the beautiful Yizrael Valley. If visitors aren’t up for that much exercise, the site can be access on the north side through the shopping center section, but it is unmarked.
The original church is in ruins. All that remains of Mary’s Fear Church are the broken stairs, the arched entrance way and a small room of the original chapel. The extraneous things, such as: the cistern and sanctuary are all gone.
Biblically, the Nazareth villagers were very upset after Jesus, a veritable unknown, came into the synagogue and quoted Isaiah. In doing so, he asserted that he, himself, was the messiah the listeners had been waiting for. According to Luke 4, the listeners grew very angry at this and chased or drug him out to a huge rocky cliff. Now that cliff is called the Mount Precipice.
From there they attempted to throw him down the jagged rocks, thus killing him. However, in his miraculous power, Jesus escaped this torturous death. As legend has it, his mother Mary stood at a small distance and looked on with much fear for Jesus’ life. Her extreme trepidation for her child’s well being earned the spot where she stood afar off worrying for Jesus the name “Mary’s Fear Hill” or “Point of Mary’s Fright.”
The Greek Orthodox Diocese originally built a small chapel on this spot. They met regularly for vespers and prayer. However, the Franciscans were granted possession of much of Nazareth in the early 1800s per an agreement with the Israeli government. In 1876, the Franciscan order built a church on the spot. However, through disuse and weathering the chapel is almost gone. Only the remnants of the chapel remain for the devout and determined visitor to the Holy Land.