Wedding Church: This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. (John 2:11)
Park on the side of highway 154 and walk down the narrow path. The Wedding Church is on the right.
Hours: Monday-Friday 8am to noon, 2pm to 6pm (closes at 5pm during the winter)
The Wedding Church is located in the city of Cana, also known as Kafr Kanna in modern times. Kafr Kanna (Cana) is a small Galilean about five miles northeast of Nazareth on highway 154. Both Muslims and Christians make up its population of 8500 people. Kafr Kanna is thought to be the Biblical Cana, the city in which Jesus Christ performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding.
Like many sacred sites in Israel, the actual place Jesus turned water into wine is disputed. The historical location of the Biblical Cana may never be known for certain. However, Kafr Kanna has more evidence for being the actual place of the first miracle of Jesus Christ. There is a main road between two large and important cities (Sepphoris and Tiberias). Kafr Kanna sits on this road, making it a natural location for a wedding with attendees from both cities. Kafr Kanna is also quite close to Nazareth.
There have been ruins found that actually date back to the time of Jesus Christ’s life. In addition to this evidence for Kafr Kanna actually being the location of the Wedding Church in Cana is that there is no evidence of running water in Biblical times. This would necessitate bringing water in from a far away water source and storing it in large jugs like those mentioned in the Biblical account of the wedding miracle. There has also been found ancient graffiti of overzealous Christians in reference to this miracle dating back quite early into Christendom. The only piece of evidence to suggest otherwise is the fact that a small Biblical village near Nazareth has been uncovered. There have been suggestions that this new excavation has uncovered a more probable location for Cana than Kafr Kanna.
Franciscans have built the Wedding Church to remember this amazing miracle that began the ministry of Jesus Christ. The Wedding Church is relatively small and has a lovely courtyard in front of the entrance. There are angels in the rock façade of the church and a bell tower on each side. The Wedding Church has two levels. The top level is a small chapel with a dome on top. The curators of the Wedding Church have preserved the remnants of a Byzantine mosaic and the original inscription thanking the man who donated it, Joseph son of Tanhum.
The lower church has a small museum of artifacts from the original sight and another quaint chapel. The artifacts included in the museum are a wine press, plastered cistern and a jar said to be one of the six used in the miracle performed by Jesus Christ.
There are records of a church built in Cana by Helena, mother of Constantine during the 4th century. The ruins were found by visitors to Kafr Kanna in the 1600s. Further excavation has found ruins of houses from as early as the first century, an atrium from the 5th century and a Christian funeral building from the same time period.
Kafr Kanna’s land was sold to the Knights Hospitaller in 1254 by the Lord of Sidon. The Franciscan order came to Cana in 1641. They began to build the present Wedding Church. Over the years, it fell into disrepair and was rebuilt and consecrated in 1883.