Tabgha: And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. (Matthew 14:19)
Monday-Saturday 8:30 to 5; Sunday 10 to 5
Tabgha is an Arabic word which means “seven springs,” named for the seven springs flowing within this territory. In Hebrew, it is called Ein Sheva, Ein meaning “springs,” and Sheva meaning “seven.” Tabgha is an area located on the north-west corner of the Sea of Galilee. It is on the ancient road from Tiberias to Damascus. Driving from Tiberias, going 7 kilometers to the south, Tabgha is located after the water pumping facility on the north side of Galilee. The seven springs in Tabgha make up the west side of the territory of Capernaum.
Tabgha is one of the best places for fishing along the Sea of Galilee. Some of the springs are warm sulfuric springs, which cause fish to gather there in cold winter months. Over the years, the numerous springs delivered water to the fields and villages around the Sea of Galilee using an aqueduct system. There were also pools used to raise the level of the water in order to push them through the aqueducts. Water based bread mills were also powered by the quickly moving waters of the springs. The last bread mill to be powered by the springs was retired in 1948.
Tabgha has been a very important place of Christian pilgrimages because tradition asserts that Jesus performed two miracles there. Jesus performed the first feeding of the 5000 with five loaves and two fish mentioned in Matthew 14, Mark 6 and John 6. The other miracle is named the Apparition of Jesus and refers to Jesus appearing to the apostles after his resurrection, mentioned in John 21.
Most notable in Tabgha is the Church of the First Feeding of the Multitude, commemorating one of the miracles Jesus performed in the area. The large church is impressive, with its white stone and mosaic floor, rendering fishes and loaves to commemorate the miracle. The courtyard draws thousands of Christians annually. The Church of the First Feeding of the Multitude has taken great lengths to care for the rock where Jesus supposedly laid the loaves while performing this notable miracle.
The large church sits where two others used to be. The first church in Tabgha commemorating the miracle of the loaves and fish was built in 350 AD. Its remains can still be seed on the right side of the altar. There was also another church, built in 450 AD, toward the east. The mosaic floor was laid and inscripted around 480 AD.
During the Persian invasion in 614 AD, the church was destroyed. It remained in ruins until 1932. The new church was then built around 1982.