Saint John’s Church: After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. (Matthew 11:1)
Arrange visits by contacting Father Caorico at 04-9910368, 04-9917333 or 04-498470
Saint John’s Church is on the south side of the old city of Acre, next to the walls and very near the lighthouse at the south-east corner of the city. To walk to the church, follow the southern walls promenade towering above the church or enter from street level through Ha-Hagana Street to the intersection at Salah and Bazri Street.
Saint John’s Church’s bright red turrets and roofs set it apart from the other Acre churches. The ramp is actually part of the walk around Acre, which makes that entrance great for sight seers. As with most of the churches in Acre, Saint John’s Church has many entrances. Southern entrance has a stone relief of the Franciscan cross, which is a large cross with four smaller crosses, one at each of the corners. Franciscan Cross was originally used by the Crusaders in Jerusalem and later adopted by the Franciscan order. Under the Franciscan Cross on the stone relief are two arms crossing. It is the symbol used for the possession of the Holy Lands by the Christians. The bare arm belongs to Jesus Christ, and the arm with a sleeve is that of Saint Francis of Assisi. Both hands have holes in them, representing the nail through the hand of Jesus Christ and the stigmata suffered by Saint Francis.
A simple arc-shaped door is on the north side of the church which is the door that opens up to the old city Acre. Behind the door is a residence apartment for a patriarch of the church and stairs leading to the main part of Saint John’s Church.
In 1118 the Pope commissioned the Templar Knights religious organization to keep pilgrims and visitors to the Holy Lands safe as they traveled. The Templar Knights were free to use force if necessary. Crusaders were driven out of most of the Holy Land by Saladin in 1187. The Templar Knights then retreated to Acre, which was the last stronghold of the Crusaders. They then built their palace on the southwest side of the city and a fortress in the center of Acre. The fortress is now gone, but it was originally surrounded by tall walls and towers.
The church, originally called Saint Andrew’s, is the current location for Saint John’s Church. The church of the Crusaders lasted until the 17th century. In addition, the Templar Knights dug a tunnel 350 M wide underneath the fortress to the southwest side of Acre.
Mamluks came through in 1291 and destroyed everything in the city. Acre was in ruins and neglected until the 17th century. Saint Andrew’s church existed until the new one was built in another Templar location nearby (Philippe Auguste Street). This new church is a Greek Orthodox one.
Franciscans then came and built over the ruins of the FIRST Saint Andrew’s church in 1737. It was renamed Saint John’s Church in memory of John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus Christ.